Gerhard Garstenauer: Congress Center Thermenkongress, 1968D–1974

  • Bad Gastein, Austria, Show on map
  • #COM #Western Europe
  • “Garstenauer’s 70s architecture in Gastein is still world class, its treatment a disgrace, thus dealing with it is the duty of the active generation of architects.” (Ute Woltron)

    With a series of uniquely identifiable buildings Gerhard Garstenauer sought to counteract the gradual decline that had in the 60s begun to overtake the once posh health resort: among the projects he ultimately realized were a pool facility blasted into the mountainside, a congress center, and four futuristic-looking geodesic aluminum structures on Kreuzkogel.

    Garstenauer widened the dark, narrow street in the heart of Bad Gastein into a large platform, creating a main square from which the one-story volume of the Congress Center overlooks the town. Below this platform lie two more levels staggered inward. In addition to the large convention hall, the new center was brought to life by a restaurant, a café, a bank, numerous shops, as well as a casino and night club.

    The dramatically cantilevering concrete structure – loved but also hated for being so uncompromising – provided the city with a place to gather and a spectacular lookout point. Bought by an investor in 2004, the building was abandoned in 2007 and has apparently been left to decay.

    (Written by Sonja Pisarik, Architekturzentrum Wien)

    After its heyday around the turn of the century, Bad Gastein tried to fight decades of decline with this congress center. It is perched spectacularly on a steep slope and contrasts the surrounding buildings with its functionalist exposed concrete design language. Garstenauer opened up the square above and created a large, well lit space to set the project apart from the surrounding narrow alleyways. 

    (Written by Norbert Mayr)

  • Vacant, dilapidating. Envisioned as valley station for a cable car connecting the economically weak historic city to the skiing area. Thus, threatened by substantial transformation plans.