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Graz | The Joanneumsviertel by Nieto Sobejano

Place: Graz, Country: Austria
Client: Universalmuseum Joanneum
Architectural design:
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos - Madrid
eep architekten - Graz.
Text by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit
Photos by UMJ / N. Lackner.
All images courtesy of Universalmuseum Joanneum.

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The Joanneumsviertel is the cultural core of Graz. The capital city of the Austrian region of Styria is renowned for the exceptional quality of its exhibition venues, including the famous Kunsthaus by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, which blue presence marks the city center when seen from the Schlossberg hill.

Founded in 1811, the Universalmuseum Joanneum is the institution than manages most of the museums in Graz and its surrounding area. In 2005 a masterplan was developed, so to refurbish the area in Graz’s center where three historical buildings were located, with the objective to find a proper house for the Neue Galerie, the Natural History Museum and the Styrian State Library.

After an invited competition held the following year, the project by Spanish studio Nieto Sobejano with Austrian practice eep architekten was selected for the creation of the Joanneumsviertel, the new Joanneum quarter.

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Completed in 2011, along with the complete renovation of the existing building, the project envisaged the ralization of a new visitor center.
Entirely underground, located where a garden once was, the new two-levels trapezoidal wing interconnects the three historical buildings, dedicated to the museums and the State library, but also provides a centralized lobby, temporary exhibition spaces, storages, a lending area for the library, an auditorium and various visitor services, including a cafè-restaurant and a shop.

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The extension is characterized by a series of iconic round openings, providing light and view to the rooms below ground. The largest of this cavities, 13 meters across, is the main access to the Joanneum complex and its lobby; from here the visitors are received, informed and directed toward the museums and the library, which are accessible from below through staircases and a series of elevators.

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The materials adopted for the visitor center, bare and plastered concrete, glass and perforated metal, along with wooden furniture and the generous natural illumination provided by the ample lightwells, create a welcoming and airy space.

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Along with providing an enhanced visibility to the old buildings, the project add public plaza to Graz’s historical center, equipped with playful and coloured street furniture, where culture, art and city ideally embrace one another.

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Text by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit
Photos by UMJ / N. Lackner, Courtesy of Universalmuseum Joanneum


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The Joanneum quarter (Joanneumsviertel) is a complex in Graz housing 3 museums: the Neue Galerie, the Natural History museum and the Multimedia collections

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