Extension of the Malles Civil Safety Centre

Client: market town Malles
Address: Bahnhofstraße 19
Completion: January 2021
Construction time: 18 months

Photo: Renè Riller


General: The Civil Protection Centre is located directly on the main road through the Venosta Valley on the southern edge of Malles. The existing Civil Protection Centre was built on a sloping terrain, which made it possible to arrange the facilities in the most favourable way for the case of need: the rescue service, fire brigade and disaster control centre were located around the courtyard on the road, and meeting and training rooms are located on the first floor of these buildings. Around the courtyard, which is one level lower, are the mountain rescue, ancillary rooms of the fire brigade and the storage for disaster control. The architecturally most striking component of a fire brigade headquarters is the hose tower. Here, the situation of the building site was used to place the tower like a "joint" in the terrain. This offers the advantage that - seen from the first courtyard - it develops upwards and downwards and thus does not visually push itself into the foreground in the townscape of Malles, which is characterised by church towers. The municipal administration intends to build an extension on the existing part of the building of the Civil Defence Centre to the north to accommodate the premises for the "White Cross". The existing part of the building is currently used as a garage to accommodate the rescue vehicles of the "White Cross". On the east side of this building there is an exhibition area for the volunteer fire brigade of Malles. This exhibition area is generously glazed and opens to the entrance to the area of the civil defence centre.

Idea: The existing Civil Defence Centre is an architecturally very high-quality building. The existing building is articulated by a multi-storey main building and two lower annexes. An additive arrangement of various building elements is characteristic. All structural volumes dissolve over a wide area and create a heterogeneous overall picture that fits adequately into the existing townscape. Despite the large volume, the existing building appears small and well proportioned. Our extension should be understood as a further knitting of the existing building and never be in competition with it. The basic idea of the design is to erect a new building on top of the existing garage. This extension articulates itself as its own, adapted to the existing in its language of form and materiality. The new building is an angled cuboid clad with aluminium lamellae, which stands out from the existing building due to a dark "shadow gap" running around it. The slope is chosen so that the new volume faces the main street and adapts parallel to the slope of the terrain. The thus artificially created parting line is executed alternately in glass and black plaster. The existing building is white and the new building dark or in aluminium slats. This differentiated materiality creates its own new identity and underlines the technical character of the civil defence centre.

Function: The newly planned extension takes over the existing column grid in order to keep the constructive interventions on the ground floor as low as possible. The existing flying roof must be demolished and replaced by a solid reinforced concrete ceiling. The existing columns must be reinforced and the closed wall on the north side of the building must be supplemented with reinforced concrete slabs. The existing foundations must also be partially reinforced and enlarged. The open area between the existing administration building and the existing garage will be closed and glazed to the south. Immediately after the entrance on the ground floor, a new staircase with intermediate landing leads to the first floor. From there, a long corridor on the north side of the building leads through the building. This corridor also serves as a functional structure and acoustic separation between the main street and the recreation rooms and bedrooms. The functional structure is kept linear and homogeneous. Furthermore, the existing White Cross area on the ground floor of the administration building will be renovated and functionally adapted. The office, a meeting room, bathroom facilities, storage rooms and a small exercise room will remain there. The recreation rooms and the dormitories will be built in the new building or on the upper floor of the extension building. There is a kitchen with a recreation room and then the dormitories with bathrooms and changing areas.