Delugan Meissl Associated Architects (DMAA) adds value to places through an architecture with clear contours, that intensifies given qualities by new choreographies of space.
The office made a name for cultural projects like the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, the Festspielhaus Erl and eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, as well as for rather unconventional residential buildings. DMAA stands for exploration and emotion, for technical refinement and an informed position, which takes social questions and ecological issues as it's central concerns.
The Vienna-based bureau was founded in 1993 by Elke Delugan-Meissl and Roman Delugan. Since 2004 they have shared the management with Dietmar Feistel and Martin Josst. DMAA comprises an international team of more than 40 architects, 3D engineers and other creative professionals. The latest projects are being realised in Europe, China and the USA.
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Storming into architecture
The history of the office begins with a jump into the deep end: The first buildings are already large-scale projects. Two towers, which are realised not far from one another in a residential area close to the UNO City in Vienna, illustrate creative flexibility: one design explores classical verticality while the other reinterprets the residential tower as a horizontal beam.
The office achieves just as much creative freedom with a series of residential buildings. DMAA finds a wide range of answers on the subject of individuality: it piles two-storey apartments on top of each other in a way that generates a rich variety of interior spaces and façades. On another occasion, the floor plans are identical but the different positions of the windows mean that perceptions of the individual spaces vary widely. The highpoint is represented by a housing project in which 47 multi-storey apartments interlock like the pieces of a 3D puzzle. Each apartment has its own individual floor plan and spatial character. With their remodelling of the roof level of a building in 1995 they make another powerful statement on the international architectural landscape.
Quartier “An der Schanze”
Shaping a position
In the 2000s, the office begins to be active beyond Austria’s borders. DMAA wins competitions with spectacular designs for cultural landmarks and attracts international attention. The emphatically contextual way of working, in which the building is very precisely positioned vis-à-vis its surroundings, shapes the architectural language of the office. In the Festspielhaus Erl this approach consolidates into a tectonically dynamic external form with sculptural qualities. The building is both a rock and a resonating body. The entire concert hall brings the music to life, its wooden walls vibrating like those of a musical instrument.
At the eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, reflections on the functions of the cinema lead to a redefinition of the relationship between the screen and the entrance area. The design interprets the generous facility as a spacious arena and the cinema as a place of communication that offers an excellent visitor experience.
A further key project of this period is the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. Close to the production facilities in the heart of an industrial zone, DMAA makes an emotional statement. Carried by just three supports, the huge building volume detaches itself from the ground, freeing up the view of its surroundings. The entrance of visitors into the Porsche universe is precisely choreographed. The gentle inclination of the entrance area accelerates them as they move towards the demonstration workshop. From here, an escalator rises into the open air and then, abruptly, through a funnel-shaped opening into the heart of the extensive exhibition space.
Festival Hall Erl
In 2015, Elke Delugan-Meissl is appointed Commissioner of the Austrian contribution to the Architecture Biennale in Venice. As the movement of migrants towards Europe reaches a peak, DMAA and Liquid Frontiers develop a collaborative project that investigates the question of what architecture can contribute to society. Three teams are invited to realise temporary projects in three locations in Vienna that are designed to improve the living conditions of the involved migrants. The presentation of the concrete results in the Austrian Pavilion vividly demonstrates the close relationship between physical spaces and social issues.
This respectful preoccupation with available space and its unused potential as a high-quality alternative to new-build projects is becoming increasingly important in the work of the office. This is exemplified by the former Kellogg’s production facilities and silos on the Port of Bremen. Here, the minimal architectural interventions reinterpret rather than override the existing. Precise interventions reinforce the established atmosphere of the place.
The past few years have witnessed the development of a close relationship with the Chinese Region that is illustrated by both new types of project and the new scale of the resulting buildings, which are designed in line with visitor numbers that are unlike those seen in Europe. The significant issues readdressed by such projects include the role of public space and our ecological awareness and appreciation of interrelationships in the natural world.
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Taiyuan Botanical Garden