Human memory is short, as we all know, but here it is preserved. The foot (though not the rest) of a 3,000-year-old mummy, a million specimens of alpine butterflies, Gothic sculptures, prehistoric hand axes, string instruments by the legendary Tyrolean violin-maker Jakob Stainer – the list goes on. Millions of historic treasures from state museums in Tyrol with an estimated value of over one billion euros are stored in the new Collections and Research Centre in Hall.
Reduced and hermetic
Like a gigantic safe the monolith on a square plan guards countless cultural treasures brought here from collections and storage facilities throughout the state. Against the powerful backdrop of the Alps a dark and mysterious looking treasure chest protects and preserves Tyrol’s cultural memory.
The façade has the hermetic, unyielding look of a suit of armour; bulges in the shape of hand-axes protrude here and there from its grey, fibreglass-reinforced concrete panels (FibreC). Only a few reduced openings perforate this strong protective shell: the vehicle gate, ventilation louvres, the legally required windows of the carpenters’ workshop, and the main entrance. When the double gate is opened outwards on workdays its bright red inner faces are exposed to view.
Built like an onion
The spatial concept is clear and simple. Like the rings of an onion the different zones of the building are formed around its centre. The outermost zone offers 7,500 m2 of storage space; the next ring is a connecting circulation zone; and at the core, light-flooded workshops and studios for the ca. 35-strong team are grouped around an introverted green atrium. Research staff had expressed a wish for a contemplative space of this kind that would facilitate concentrated work.
A place to store, research, conserve
Two of the building’s three floors are completely embedded in the ground, ensuring an optimum climate of 19 degrees Celsius and 50 percent humidity in the storage area and eliminating the necessity for complex climate-control technology. The side elevation shows how the building is cut into the sloping site.
Through airlocks, the circulation ring provides easy access to the items stored in the outer zone from all offices, workshops, packing, unloading and conservation rooms as well as the photo studio and the carpenters’ workshop. ‘For us conservators the working conditions have greatly improved,’ says Laura Resenberg, head of the conservation workshops. ‘Now, you can simply go and take a quick look at an exhibit. The studios are located directly across from the relevant storage zones. Being able to move on one level with our carts without any obstacles makes everything so much easier.’
Researching, thinking, reflecting, discussing questions with other experts – all in one place, focused, undisturbed, with the respective object close at hand. Human memory is short and preserving it is a lot of work, but it is certainly worth the effort.