Joanneumsviertel  Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos

"The Joanneumsviertel of Graz is comprised of three buildings from different periods and with different functions that up to now have had their backs turned toward one another and faced a residual rear courtyard: the Museum of Natural History from the eighteenth century; the Regional Library of Styria; and the New Gallery of Contemporary Art, built at the end of the nineteenth century. Addressing each of these organisms belonging to the same institution, the project emerged from the need to endow the complex with a common means of access, welcoming spaces, a conference hall, reading areas and services, along with a lower level for archives and storage. Instead of giving in to the temptation of developing an iconic intervention, as has often happened in recent museum expansions, however, the project offered a unique opportunity to carry out an at once urban and architectural transformation. Whereas the historic center of Graz is known for its expressive “roofscape,” our proposal developed entirely below ground: we simply defined a new pavement that, like a large carpet, takes up the entire exterior space between the buildings and conceals below ground those spaces housing the required program."