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THE IN SITU WALLS AND CEILING PROVIDE A COLOUR AND TEXTURE THAT CONTRASTS WITH THE HYGIENIC LOOK TYPICAL OF THE MEDICAL WORLD

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CONCRTETE QUARTERLY / WINTER 05

The combination of an open-minded client and the aim to present a building as a holistic 'wellness' centre, not just a shop (pharmacy), led Austrian architect Artec towards theatrical place making. The fully glazed frontage, curtained when closed at night, otherwise reveals an art-installation-like interior. Ordered by parallel bands of ceiling light, display cabinets appear to drop from slots in the ceiling, wrapped in this light, or slide out from slots in the walls. The feeling is movement, though the cabinets are in fact fixed.

These cabinets are the figures against a ground of concrete walls, ceiling and floors, and as with fi gure-ground compositions the ground has to do work too - it is not merely a neutral background. Particularly, the in situ walls and long-span in situ ceiling (rebated for lighting, stitched into precast upstand beams at the perimeter) provide a colour and texture that contrasts strongly with the hygienic look typical of the traditional medical world. The floor is of Confalt (www. confalt. com), a pourable, plasticised mortar and asphalt mix, here with a green tinge.

Called the Lion of Aspern Pharmacy, located at Aspern near Vienna, the 580m 2 building includes courtyards around trees - one a large established chestnut - dispensary, lab, seminar/ multipurpose rooms for discussions and for sessions on holistic health, and a roof terrace for staff and visitors. Medicinal herbs are planted in a cloister-like garden - a demonstration garden for tours.

In its sculptural form, colours and textures, this interior avoids the separateness of health buildings, rather aiming to celebrate health.

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