This year’s prestigious AZ Award went to the Loft Panzerhalle in Salzburg, Austria. The residential was designed by Austrian architecture studio Smartvoll, who won an internationally advertised contest to design the loft in 2013. The 2018 AZ Award was announced at the annual gala in Toronto in July. Over 950 submissions were received and 64 finalists were selected from the submissions.
The 350 square metre loft is spread over two storeys. The design captivates through specific, spatial dramaturgy and the design team reinterpreted the classic idea of a “loft” in many ways when they designed Loft Panzerhalle. Special attention was paid to the exhaustion of materials and what is technologically possible. The architecture of the loft unfolds within the interior of the structure, which is marked by smoothed and waxed concrete shapes.
Adolf Loos from Smartvoll says the design team wanted to revitalise the space’s original charm. The spatial experience and magnanimity of both stories were priorities. To ensure consistent brightness throughout the loft, Smartvoll decided against constructing galleries that are typical in lofts to leave the upper ribbon window free. The kitchen is the 7m-long epicentre of the space with the bathroom, guestroom and bedroom distributed throughout the space as separate entities.
A concrete stair sculpture rounds off the space by appearing to carry the separate bodies that encompass the loft. The stairs are described as “an architecture within the architecture”. It creates a roof over the kitchen and adds elevations within the space. A glass shower protrudes from the fully glazed bathing block, with the highlight of the loft being a wellness area that includes a fireplace.
Besides concrete, the only subtle and semi-transparent material used is Prolift, which separates the guest area, acts as a curtain for the bedroom and doubles as furniture in the form of a hanging steel shelf. All of the other furniture pieces seem to be integrated into the architecture of the loft. The two balconies look like additional alcoves of the overall concept and feature a contemplative zen garden.
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