GS Architects : the stunning headquarters for Uniopt Pachleitner Group

Project: MP09 Headquarter Uniopt Pachleitner Group (Black Panther)
Location: Graz, Austria
Site area: 10,940 square meters
Built up area: 17.054 m²
Net area: 14,438 m²
Project: 2006
Completed: 2010
Program: Office
Authors: Daniela Gojic, Michael Gattermeyer and Brigitte Spurej-Jammernegg
Architectural office: GS architects ZT-GmbH | Arch. DI Michael Gattermeyer, Arch. DI Danijela Gojic, Arch. DI Brigitte Spurej-Jammernegg
Project manager: Arch. DI Michael Gattermeyer, Arch. DI Danijela Gojic
Assistance: DI Mathias Flacke, DI Robert Lamprecht, DI Doris Loidfellner, DI Werner Maiacher, DI Ana Ocic, DI Siegfried Pavel, DI Peter Rous, DI Nirmala Salkic, DI Hubert Schuller, DI Martha Stieg, DI Rainer Strele, Eva Zagler
Client: Dr. Michael Pachleitner Privatstiftung
Photographer: Gerald Liebminger
Film producer: M.Brischnik
Film team: D.Zeschko, H.G√ľnther, K.Fitz

The stunning, new headquarters for Uniopt Pachleitner Group, an innovative eyewear and jewellery company, based in Graz, Austria.  The original name is MP 09, but nicknamed ‘black panther’ by GS Architects, as after all the ‘black panther’ is the symbol of femininity, elegance, and power; the architectural brief was to construct a landmark building which reflects the products of Uniopt Pachleitner Group, the innovation, the culture and the philosophy. The company was set in focus to translate its philosophy and the nature of the company into architecture. 

An artistic, sculpture-like aesthetic is clearly visible on the architectural design; GS Architects have achieved to create an aesthetic with imposing angles and dynamic sharp edges.  The building’s black cladding assists in making it imposing, prevailing, yet elegant.  GS Architects selected a ventilated rain screen cladding system from Sto; the specific mechanical system has allowed for an exceedingly ambitious design, as well as for the pure and elegant black finish. 

Emphasis was given to the selection of the protective glass system by Sto as ‘protective glass’ characterizes the nature and the philosophy of Uniopt Pachleitner Group.  The lightweight rain screen cladding system of StoVerotec provided all the functional and aesthetic design elements that the client and GSArchtiects required; StoVerotec Glass Panel is bespoke manufactured to meet the color, size and other requirements.  The ‘black panther’ is erected over a concrete base develops from a compact tail to a more and more resolving head cantilevering towards the city.  The different directions of the building structure are retrieved in the inside structure of the spaces. From almost every position there are vistas through the whole building to the outdoor spaces. A special quality of the building evolves out of the individually designed technical solutions concerning the facade, partition walls, doors, staircases and many other components.

Through the elements used the ‘black panther’ manages to emotionalize the architecture by describing the vision and making it physically and sculpturally ascertainable; “where design and shape evolve, ideas emerge and become manifest in mass.”  Despite the dynamic design, the ‘black panther’ creates zeal and alacrity to the urban architecture.  An architectonic punctuation at an exposed site of the city – a fresh and distinguishing landmark entree to the city of Graz – a future oriented potential for development of the entire area.

Pachleitner Group, which specializes in the design and marketing of spectacles and jewellery and Wegraz, (Graz-based company for urban renewal and refurbishment), set up competitions for an office and a hotel building, as well as the headquarters building with a wing to be rented out, a flagship store and a restaurant in 2006. Both projects established a two-stepped competition among altogether nine offices decided unanimously by the jury.  During the competition phase the client presented images of airplanes, ships and cars that expressed the feeling he wanted the building to convey. GS Architects derived the building’s design from the images presented by the principal; the design was that of a crouching black panther, poised ready to spring, which provided a metaphor that accurately describes both building parts and which omitted them to a goal: to create an appearance that would be both powerful and elegant.  Construction of the 32-million Euro project began in 2007 and was completed in 2010.  The ‘black panther’ is located on a triangular shaped site that originally sloped to the southwest. 

The interior design is equally startling with the exterior architectural design, and the sculptural elements throughout.  Attention was given to the interior details and very few colors in various surfaces and materials define the interior.  Bespoke furniture designed exclusively by GS Architects is consequently congruent to the architectural design.  The client demanded a tranquil, beautiful space to inspire creativity. The materials specified to achieve the highly contemporary look posed a significant acoustical issue; StoSilent Panel Alu was chosen to adequately deal with the echo of the reflective materials. The selling factor to both client and system designer was the ability of the acoustic system to add to, rather than subtract from the other interior elements.   The result is a beautiful, six-storey statement building which currently dominates the surrounding skyline.


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