As the automobile association for Austria with more than two million members, the Österreichische Automobil-, Motor- und Touringclub (ÖAMTC in short) is responsible for various services concerning mobility. In March 2017 the new corporate headquarters were officially opened in the predominantly industrial Erdberg quarter of Vienna. The spectacularly dynamic architecture of the Viennese architectural office Pichler & Traupmann called for unique solutions when it came to fire safety, too – solutions that could be achieved effectively with Pilkington Pyrostop® glazing for various fire resistance classes and in a number of glass compositions.
In addition to latest traffic updates, the ÖAMTC above all offers its members roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown and deploys rescue missions to accident sites – just as diverse as the scope of services offered are the functional and layout requirements for the new administration and organisation centre. Service workshops for repairs in the lower part of the building as well as a helicopter landing platform on the roof, the new building complex houses all required service functions under one roof.
The concepts of service and support are equally important in terms of the ÖAMTC organisation as they are to the building itself. The social component embodies the impressive structure with a gross floor space of almost 30,000 square metres to the outside in colour, form and layout. When it comes to form and choice of material, it deliberately stands out from the monotonous block structures of its surroundings. At night, the diagonal supporting structures of the curtained, point-screened-printed glass façade are lit discretely in the corporate colour yellow. The circular and star-like shape impressively conveys the message that everything at the ÖAMTC is centred around mobility and the associated services. At the same time, the dynamical and lively form seeks to symbolise the efficiency, speed and responsiveness of the organisation.
From the service workshops to the heliport, all topical elements are extended along a single vertical axis, in other words from the counter to the reception and the event areas through to the large atrium, so as to arrange the offices in a curved shape. The concept of short distances enabling highly efficient logistics, as it should be key to any such office building, has been transformed into architecture.
Open communication shapes the layout
On the counter, you will be facing an oversized glass pulpit, in the middle of the workshop, where the technicians have driven the vehicles to accessing the basement via a ramp. Customers have a panoramic view of all ongoing activities, which they can enjoy comfortably from a bird's eye perspective. From the counter, an airy and spacious area opens upwards, through which stairs lead into the lobby. On this lobby level, you can also enter the building in just a few steps coming from the metro line U3-Erdberg. The building and hence the ÖAMTC are open to all visitors and spectators in every direction.
All parts of the building communicate with each other – yet the message conveyed to the outside world is important, too. This is realised in the public/semi-public area: the entrance level comprises the event hall, conference rooms, TV studio, while the floor above accommodates the vitally important call centre, which is continuously online connected to the outside world, this clearly and functionally forms the central space. All these areas are arranged around a two-storey foyer. At the same time, this is also the first floor of the large office atrium, from which the routes and sightlines lead upwards. This in turn encapsulates the internal communication flow.
Escape to safety by easy evacuation to the outside
The fire safety concept for the ÖAMTC building has been developed by the Graz-based engineering office Norbert Rabl and coordinated with the authority in charge, the Building Inspectorate of the City of Vienna/MA37. The building was subject to special measures regarding fire and smoke protection, as specified for building constructions with integrated assembly points and office units in Austria. An essential feature of the concept is the escape stairwell located externally and connecting all storeys, which facilitates everyone to escape to the outside into the open rings of the main façade in the event of a fire.
The large atrium is kept free from smoke in the event of a fire by a pressurised ventilation system, as well as a smoke and heat extraction facility in the roof. The pressurised ventilation system comprises a ventilation system that prevents the penetration of smoke into the protected escape areas of the building by means of pressure differences and air flows. Further special measures for containing a potentially destructive fire are fire-proof sliding doors, as well as comprehensive sprinkler protection for the office areas.
Ample supply of daylight through extensive transparent walls of fire-resistant glass
The continuous ingress of light via the outer façade and atrium into all important areas inside is an essential feature of the open space architecture. This feature could also be implemented in the functional areas, where special fire safety measures are required. Fire and smoke compartments as well as escape route access points are permanently protected by passive fire protection systems. An attractive feature of the transparent fire protection is the inner façade of the large atrium in the core of the building. It was fully equipped with Pilkington Pyrostop® of fire resistance class EI 30, in order to provide protection against a potential vertical flashover from one floor to the next. In addition, a partial area of the faceted roof was glazed with Pilkington Pyrostop® insulating glass complying to fire resistance class EI 60 in combination with anti-glare coated outer panes comprising laminated safety glass. The appearance was perfectly matched to the adjoining, non-fire-resistant glazing in terms of visual appearance and light transmittance for this unique installation situation.
Expert support from Pilkington Austria
When the fire-resistant glass applications had to be developed and specified, the building benefited from the comprehensive support and expert advice provided by Pilkington Austria GmbH, Bischofshofen, from the planning phase through to completion. Part of the services involved the organisation and implementation of third-party fire tests with doors, partition walls and façade elements providing proof and validation of the required fire safety properties for bespoke structures in large dimensions. Owing to the wide range of different applications, dimensions and glass compositions – combined with in total over 1000 m² of fire-resistant glass – the project implementation, which was completed without delays, is impressive evidence for the competence and customer focus of Pilkington Austria.