Vienna and Brixen-based architectural practice, Bergmeisterwolf Architekten, have designed the In the rock fire brigade project. Completed in 201o, this contemporary fire station depot can be found in Margreid, Italy.
Bergmeisterwolf Architekten have completed another architectural gem with this project. We were blown away when we first set our eyes on this design.
The town of Margreid is embedded between the wine yards, orchards and leans on the slopes of the Mendel mountain chain, on the Southern Tyrol Wine Route.
Not only is the location attractive, but also the unique urban structure is enchanting.
You can still notice the medieval roots and the Renaissance architecture is present everywhere. However, the town gladly embraces modernity.
Due to its small economic structures, the town was probably spared more extensive construction, unlike some tourist resorts or business zones. Also, thanks to strict urban planning laws, which stimulated new architecture of a high quality, the town now has its place in the recent history of the South Tyrol region.
A significant leitmotif is the integration of new into old structures.
A team of architects, bergmeisterwolf, (Gerd Bergmeister and Michaela wolf) adapted the cellar vaults underneath the City Hall to show that great gestures are not necessary for a dialogue with the existing to be achieved successfully.
Another project, in magreid by the architects from Brixen, includes an underground construction.
Caverns in the shape of cellar vaults and tunnel portals are well-known construction elements in this hilly and vineyard region. The decision not to use expensive cultivated areas as construction sites for the new fire station, but to locate it inside a hill, turned out to be, despite technical difficulties, economically beneficial.
Three ditches ten metres wide and 6.5 meters high were cut in the bedrock using the new Austrian method NÖT / new Austrian tunnelling method NATM, and connected with a lateral trench of smaller dimension. This is where the entire space volume was situated. Nevertheless, the fire station is not invisible, but quite imposing.
Appropriately slanted and curved in relation to the hills slope, the reinforced concrete plate, framing the entrances to the three ditches, is a characteristic architectural element that makes this fire station visible from a far and at the same time serves as protection for the slope.
A special treatment of the plate surface softens the technoid roughness and establishes a relationship with the content: beech charcoal powder was applied by high pressure to the freshly plastered walls. The powder was specially manufactured in a restoration workshop, and adds velvety texture and burned wood colour tone to the walls.
Two vehicle halls are open to the outside through glass gates framed by a steel construction. The fire station offices are located on two floors of the third ditch protruding from the hill through the concrete plate like a two storey glass cube.
In this way, a lot of daylight reaches the inside of the hill and adds to the good interior atmosphere.
A lecture hall over the centre connects the cavern with the glass cube and offers a panoramic view of the surroundings.
The interior elements were mainly finished in stainless steel, glass and wood. The precise finish of these details supports the impression of a high quality ambience, which is rare in building of this sort, but they still leave the main role to the hill because of their formal reduction.
There are red coloured accents on some elements, such as locker rooms and, naturally, the fire engines.
The vehicle halls are not heated, but use the heat sink of the rock. Only the offices and other staff premises are thermo insulated and heated.
The building is a great example of the conservation of resources, energy and land, as well as of a sensible attitude to the landscape.
The bergmeisterwolf architects have always cared about integrating art into their architecture.
In the case of this rather pragmatic communal construction task, this was achieved with two works by young local artist Christian Kaufmann, who enanced the status of the Margreid fire station as a constructional and cultural statement.
Images courtesy of Günter Richard Wett, Jürgen Eheim and Ullrich Egger