The town of Magreid, embedded between the wineyards and orchards and leaning on the slopes of the Mendel mountain chain, is located on the Southern Tyrol Wine Route (magreid an der südtiroler Weinstrasse / magré sulla strada ddel vino). Not only is the location attractive, but the unique urban structure is enchating. You can still notice the medieval roots and the Reinassance is present everywhere; however, the town gladly accepts modernity.
Due to its small economic structures, the town was probably spared more extensive contruction transgression, like some tourist resorts or business zones. Also, thanks to considerate urban construction policies, which stimulated new architecture of a high quality, the town now has its place in the recent history of the South Tyrol region. A significant leitmotif is the integration of new into old structures. A team of architects, bergmeisterwolf, (gerd bergmeister and Michaela wolf) adapted the cellar valuts underneath the City Hall to show that great gestures are not necessary for a dialogue with the existing to be achieved successfully.
Another project, realized in magreid by these architects from brixen, was also an underground construction. Caverns in the shape of cellar vaults and tunnel portals are well-known construction elements in this hilly and vineyard region. The selected solution not to use (expensive) cultivated areas as construction sites for the new fire station, but to locate it inside a hill, turned out to be, despite technical difficulties, economically the most beneficial. Three ditches ten metres wide and 6.5 meters high were cut in the bedrock using the new Austrian method NÖT / new Austrian tunnelling method NATM, and connected with a lateral trench of smaller dimension. This is where the entire space volume is situated.
Nevertheless, the fire station is not invisible, but quite imposing. Appropriately slanted and curved in relation to the hill´s slope, the reinforced concrete plate, framing the entraces to the three ditches, is a characteristic architectural element that makes this fire station visible from a far and at the sametime serves as protection for the slope. A special treatment of the plate surface softens the technoid roughness and establishes a relationship with the content: beech charcoal powder was applied by high pressure to the freshly plastered walls. The powder was specially manufacted in a restoration workshop and adds velvety texture and burned wood colour tone to the walls. Two vehicle halls are open to the outside through glass gates framed by a steel construction.
Offices are located on two floors of the third ditch protruding from the hill through the concrete plate like a two storey glass cube. In this way, a lot of daylight reaches the inside of the hill and adds to the good interior atmosphere . Strategically speacking, the position of the command centre on the ground floor of the cube is favourable. A lecture hall over the centre connects the cavern with the glass cube and offers a panoramic view of the sorroundings. The hill’s interior may also be a haptic experience, namely, there is no inner shell, but the rock surface was treated only with the with insulation mortar. The interior elements were mainly done in stainless steel, glass and wood.
The precise finish of those details supports the impression of a high quality ambience, which is rare in building of that sort, but they still leave the main role to the hill because of their formal reduction. There are red coloured accents on some elements, such as locker rooms and, naturally, the fire engines. The vehicle halls are not heated , but use the heat sink of the rock. Only the offices and other staff premises are thermo insulated and heated. This building is an example of the conservation of resources, energy and land, as well as of a sensible attitude to the landscape. The bergmeisterwolf architects have always cared about integrating art into their architecture. In the case of this rather pragmatic communal construction task, this was achieved with two works by young local artist Christian Kaufmann, which enance the status of the magreid fire station as a constructional and cultural statement
Text from orisLocation: Johann Steck Strasse 34, 39040 Margreid, Italy Architect: bergmeisterwolf architekten Project name: In the rock, fire brigade Magreid
Client: Gemeinde Margreid an der Weinstraße Planning of structural framework: Werner Hunglinger
Art on the construction: Christian Kaufmann
Photos: Günter Richard Wett, Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger Construction: 2009 – 2010
Gross floor space: 690 m²