The Vienna-based LABVERT design studio around chief designer Stephan Vary is responsible for the refurbishment of a storefront facade in the Old Town of Wels, Upper Austria. The architecture accommodates to the existing adjacent buildings from the 19th and 20th century while giving material expression to a contemporary interpretation of inner-city store architecture.
Store tradition & sky view:
When, in the late 19th century, the first department stores opened in Europe’s big cities, this was the first time that retailers sought to attract customers with glazed storefronts, large shop windows and passageways. Technological innovation made it possible to open up closed facades and let the urban street life passing by get a glimpse of the glittering world of consumer goods. For the design of the storefront in Wels, LABVERT developed classical department store architecture further by affording not only a view of the world of consumer goods, but also of the sky above.
With their frames protruding from the wall at different angles, facing different directions, they break up the rigid alignment pattern of the facade. The buildings around and across the street are reflected in the window panes. Townscape and sky, street life and goods display all flow into one another, the clear geometry of the building fits in with the ensemble of the neighboring facades as well as with the paving-stone pattern in the street in front of the building. But that’s not all yet.
Like in many Austrian towns and cities, the city center of Wels has become passé as a shopping district. Shopping malls on the outskirts have replaced downtown department stores. So, commercially, there was no need for a third floor to be added to the store, but architecturally, there was: to be even with the height of the adjacent buildings LABVERT decided to, literally, put up a facade. The second upper floor which only exists as a screen facade was assigned a new function: the top-floor windows provide the framing for three views up into the sky.
“The look into the consumer world turns into a view up into the sky.”
LABVERT is a design and architecture office established 2001 in Vienna. The office works in the areas of architecture, product design as well as shop and interior design. Aside from leading international luxury brands like Dior and Armani, for whom LABVERT does the shop decoration, they also provide designs for Austrian companies such as Römerquelle, Palmers, and most recently, Nägele & Strubell.LABVERT