Formerly the residence of a nobleman, 200 years later the Palais Pálffy has become the permanent headquarters of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe). Its eventful history has changed the face of the palais, while preserving the historic character of the building.
The unpretentious-looking facade is just a front, for the palace at Number 6 Wallnerstraße is one of the most notable and distinguished city palaces in Vienna. Careful renovation has restored some of its historic details, evoking the splendour of former days. Simultaneously the new architectural intervention is set to open new perspectives. Today, after 14 years of planning and construction, Palais Pálffy has become the permanent headquarters of the OSCE. Bene designed the colour and furniture concept for this outstanding combination of impressive, showcase environments and modern offices.
Play of contrasts.
The past and present coexist in harmony at Palais Pálffy, creating intriguing contrasts. Viennese architects Ablinger, Vedral and partners, who also developed the master plan, wanted to create an open environment. To this end, parts of the historic building were restored, while other sections of lesser historic value were removed to introduce light and air.
Play of light.
The street façade’s historic details were carefully restored. Meanwhile the modern architecture at the rear of the building, with its minimalist design - featuring glass, metal and wood - contrasts with the historic splendour of the front building. The large inner courtyard at the centre of the site was exposed and enclosed with a glass facade on three sides, allowing natural light to enter the building. A cafeteria with large sliding doors opens to a patio, furnished with bamboo plants, white gravel, a reflecting pool and a wooden terrace.
Play of history.
Built between 1809 and 1813, Count Pálffy von Erdöd sought proximity to the imperial court and commissioned the building of the palais as a family residence. Later occupants redesigned the building according to their preferences: At the beginning of the 20th century the building housed a bank; until the late 1980s it was used as the Federal Administration Archives; and later as the Federal Administration Academy. Originally designed in the Empire style, different generations of occupants have left their marks. Nonetheless, the noble building still displays many notable features that bear testimony to its former splendour.
Play of illusion.
Marble floors and life-size marble figures welcome visitors with a grand gesture. The impressive banquet halls of the bel-étage are flanked by lavishly decorated marble fireplaces, showcasing rich stucco and precious French silk wallpaper dating from the 18th century. An eye-catching feature is the marquettry flooring made of seven different types of veneer. The colours of oak, ash, cherry, walnut, rosewood, mahogany and maple make a play of light and shadows, creating an illusion of depth. The surface displays a rhombus pattern, creating a trompe l’oeil 3D-effect. Visitors appear to balance on a grid. Bene’s white tables suggest a safe point of reference to the (deceived) eyes, anchoring the space to reality.
Play of colours.
With responsibility for the colour and furnishing concept of the newly designed Palais Pálffy, Bene created an interior full of contrasts. Furniture, colours and surfaces form a pleasant contrast to the historic architecture and delineate separate areas for concentration and communication. The building’s occupants sought to pair ‘ambassadorial’ spaces with modern offices, and Bene developed a suitable furnishing concept. The integrated provider focused on designing executive and conference spaces as well as areas for informal communication. Bene’s T-platforms workstations were designed in line with individual colour concepts on each office floor.
Play of functions.
Bene’s Coffice seating in reception areas welcomes guests and staff of the global organisation in an elegant setting. Comfortable black and red chairs and sofas on the bel-étage encourage informal exchange, enable the use of laptops and offer relaxation in front of the fireplace. The M_Com table accommodates large and small meetings alike, forming an invigorating facility that offers integrated IT and AV, complemented by Dexter cantilever chairs. Not only did the leading Austrian integrated provider design the colour and furniture concept for the palais, but Bene was also in charge of project management and coordination of the move – a successful service for an outstanding establishment.
Object: Palais Pálffy, OSCE headquarters, ViennaBuilding owner: Republic of Austria
and master plan: Ablinger, Vedral & Partner ZTGmbH, Vienna
Construction period: 2004 to 2007
Net floor area: 9,213 square metres
Workplaces: 320 by 2010
Furniture: Bene Coffice, Dexter, M_Com and M_Com table, T platform T 07, K2 pedestal and KT, Kizz, Comforto
Bene is convinced that there is a clear connection between the design of office and work environments, company culture and the success of a company. Bene’s concepts, products and services turn this philosophy into reality. Development, design and production as well as consulting and sales are united under one roof. With 76 sites in 30 countries and 1,430 employees worldwide, Bene offers its customers regional access to all of its services. In the business year 2007/2008, consolidated sales of the Bene Group amounted to EUR 252.5 million. Bene is market leader in Austria and number six in Europe. www.bene.com
For questions and further information.
Bene AG press office: Ursula Grabher, Désirée Schellerer, Caroline Weber
Renngasse 6, A-1010 Vienna, tel. +43-1-534 26-1265
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Internet: www.bene.com