ORF Multifunctional Communication and Media Center
The Multifunctional Communication and Media Center for the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) is located in central Vienna, inside an iconic functionalist building designed for ORF by architect Roland Rainer. Veech x Veech has upgraded the company's 1960s conference space with augmented functionality that meets contemporary standards and is ready to embrace the technological evolution of the 40 years to come. The result of an 18-month-long development process is a space where engineered experience meets choreographed efficiency.
Primarily used as a meeting room for the Board of Directors of Austria’s largest media provider, ORF’s conference space – unchanged for several decades – has undergone thorough transformation into a 21st-century multi-faceted media center that a leading national network can proudly identify with.
Augmented functionality: Besides the 260-sqm, state of the art conference room, the 600-sqm facility comprises two lounge spaces, a technical gallery, and catering area. Strict requirements posed by the specifics of its use are addressed through an intelligent spatial organisation that both facilitates the workflow and maximises its efficiency.
The new layout incorporates two separate lounges for press and for the Board members, each connected to the conference room via its own entrance. An extension to the media lounge is fit out for press conferences where journalists are briefed on the Board’s deliberations.
The project dramatically augments the functionality of the conference space. Originally, it has been exclusively hosting the Board meetings, whereas its new, expanded capacities are suited for a variety of internal meetings, conferences, and special events. As a result, the space that had been previously used for only several days a year has become the heart of the company and its pièce de resistance.
Functional aesthetic: On a relatively compact footprint, the conference room distills VxV’s 25-year experience as media architects who have collaborated with the likes of Al Jazeera, Red Bull Media House, and RGE Media Group. Its aerodynamic forms with painstakingly crafted detailing radiate a distinctly futuristic feel, and yet the entire project is a vivid proof that form has never been a priority for VxV. On the contrary, form is the outcome of their determination to merge architecture and media in an all-embracing, economically feasible, bespoke solution to the project’s diverse requirements.
Unlike the original, U-shaped design, the new elliptical table provides an optimal geometry for the Board’s 42 members to see each other at all times. The elliptical shape occupies the least possible space within the room, while comfortably sitting all of the participants, and enhances peripheral vision to facilitate communication between them. What’s more, by removing the corners, the design team secures an equal, non-hierarchic place for each participant.
The radial pattern of the custom acoustic textile ceiling visually enhances the perspective depth – the space feels more dynamic as a result. The ceiling’s sculptural, three-dimensional shape derives from three built-in video projectors and the centrally positioned, LED-based ambient light feature, while the raised and carpeted central part of the conference table additionally improves the acoustics.
With uninterrupted focus being crucial for the Board meetings, seamlessly integrated equipment serves the double purpose of removing all visual distractions and streamlining the workflow. A combination of pre-programmed, task-specific lighting setups; motorised block-out shades and strategically placed retractable projection screens, as well as the hidden presentation plinths that pull out of the tabletop at the push of a button sets the room in the required functional mode within seconds – and without the conference participants needing to turn or move to other parts of the room.
VxV define their work as creating an interface between the architectural space, the technology, the workflow and the human senses. Applied to their projects, this results in controlled environments that celebrate sensory comfort. Thus, in the ORF project, custom lighting scenarios, the positioning of light fixtures and accent lights form a powerful toolkit that helps maintain energy and concentration levels for highly demanding sessions that can last up to 8 hours. Fine-tuned balance of matte and glossy surfaces; meticulously selected materials with specific tactile and acoustic properties contribute to the positive experience of the space.
Even the fact that the ceiling height was significantly reduced due to the integrated equipment has had a positive effect. The change of proportions has shifted the focus towards the band of panoramic windows offering a 270° view of Vienna. This enhanced horizontal accentuation strengthens the sense of inclusion within a circle of collaborators, whereas the openness of the space towards the exterior reconnects them to the larger context. Rather than an isolated spaceship, the conference room feels like a cockpit of an aircraft, while the notion of augmented reality takes on a new, human-scale dimension.
- ORF - Austrian Broadcasting Corporation
- Vienna, Austria
- Project Duration:
- 2016 - 2017
- Design Team:
- Stuart A. Veech, Mascha Veech-Kosmatschof, Thomas Milly, Bernhard Trummer, Mihai Potra
- ©Hertha Hurnaus
- Project Partners:
- ORF TAST, Vasko & Partner, Tonarchitektur Willensdorfer, Hasenkopf, Schlosserei Pinterich