Sports hall for monastery secondary school in Kremsmünster by Poppe*Prehal Architekten

published in sb 1/2017

Corridor turns into subterranean activity area

The original purpose of the architecture competition was to create a corridor linking the existing secondary school in the Upper Austrian community of Kremsmünster (population 6,500) and the monastery study house area. In addition, a sports hall was to be designed on a given, separate site. However, in the course of the competition, architects Poppe*Prehal found that positive synergies would be generated if these two elements were combined and devised a solution integrating these two areas in a single concept.

The roughly 100 m long corridor had to be built underground for structural reasons and because of monument preservation issues. However, such a long corridor is highly problematical as it can easily acquire the quality of a railway tunnel, and thus posed a major design challenge. The architects therefore created not a corridor as such but a connecting element. Almost a third of the connecting element runs alongside the sports hall, the wall of which is visually opened by glazing, and the corridor is partially illuminated by the natural lighting from above. Two different areas accommodating people in motion thus abut and create exciting visual relationships. The corridor flares out into a subterranean activity area thanks to a roughly 20 m long climbing wall.

Baroque building fabric

In the study house, vaulting is omnipresent, and this theme has been taken up by the design and projected onto the fair-face concrete wall as an architectural design feature in the form of a series of folds in order to break the monotony of the corridor and intensify the interplay of light and shade. As a result of this unconventional room design, users find the corridor not oppressive but invigorating.

The dark-blue ceiling makes the corridor seem upwardly open and allows the fair-face concrete to appear in a finally balanced shade of blue that one associates with the sky. A subtle play of changing colours is generated from different viewing angles. The culmination of the corridor and the transition to the staircase is marked by the statue of St Benedict (former bridge figure). A place long-sought for this figure has now been found here.

Underground sports hall

The sports hall is situated behind the monastery wall along the moat. Creating an opening in the wall was not permitted under monument conservation regulations, so an equally high wall of sand-blasted fair-face concrete was erected parallel to the quarried stone masonry. The for the most part underground sports hall is framed by the two walls. Between the walls, space has also been found for a ground-level carport, with the study house garden extending beyond the new wall.

The interior of the sports hall has a colour scheme of shades of silk-gloss gold and bronze. The sports hall is given a special atmosphere of space and light by the vis­ible glued laminated beam construction with symmetrical, scattered light funnelling down from rooflights. In addition, flush strips of lights have been embedded in the ribs framing the funnel-like wooden openings. This means that the light is uniformly distributed at all times of day, be it with daylight or artificial lighting.