Eduard Wallnöfer Platz, Innsbruck

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This is a fascinating public square designed by LAAC for an open competition initiated in 2008 by the local government of Tyrol in western Austria. LAAC won the competition and completed construction of the square in 2012.

The square is 9,000sqm in area and is resolved as an undulating surface of white, reinforced concrete. Its aim is “to create a contemporary urban public place that negotiates between the various contradictory conditions and constraints of the site. [It] establishes a stage for a new mélange of urban activities characterised by a wide diversity.”[1] We like this project because it takes a single, unifying idea – an undulating concrete surface – and employs it across a large public space to create a diverse range of spatial experiences. In places, the concrete rises up to form bench seats, in others it defines pedestrian entries into the plaza, and in yet others it is shaped around fountains and monuments. Photos of the plaza show a wide variety of people happily coexisting within it, from businessmen, to skaters, to the elderly, to families with young children.

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While a predominantly blank concrete surface might not be a suitable design solution for Streets Without Cars, Eduard Wallnöfer Platz offers a few valuable lessons:

  • Designing for diversity is both important and possible. One of the clearest messages we received from your briefing input into Streets Without Cars was your wide range of backgrounds, interests and activities. We don’t want to exclude people from Drummond Street, nor do we want to dictate how you use it. Whatever design we come up with, it needs to be inclusive and flexible.
  • A singular idea can draw together a very large space into a unified whole. The context of Drummond Street has all sorts of asymmetries: there is a slightly different rhythm of houses along each side; it opens onto Curtain and Fenwick Streets in different ways; the presence of Shakespeare Street is unusual; there is a slight rise towards the north; even the street trees are not in perfect alignment. We want to create a design solution that draws these peculiarities, as well as the peculiarities of the brief, together into a unified whole.

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[1] Sourced from project description of Eduard Wallnöfer Platz; LAAC; viewed online 20140120.

Image sources:

  1. Eduard Wallnöfer Platz, context plan. All photos sourced from A AS Architecture and copyright Günter Richard Wett.
  2. Eduard Wallnöfer Platz, overview.
  3. Eduard Wallnöfer Platz, aerial view.
  4. Eduard Wallnöfer Platz, undulating surface.
  5. Eduard Wallnöfer Platz, bench seating.
  6. Eduard Wallnöfer Platz, detail at night.
  7. Eduard Wallnöfer Platz, at night.

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