Salzburg Central Station – together with Vienna Central Station – is one of two large-scale projects bringing the capital expenditure program of the ÖBB to completion. In the year 1999, the design by kadawittfeldarchitektur (Aachen/Graz) won a two-phase surveyed competition between 12 teams of architects.
Urban Connection In order to integrate the station into the city, kadawittfeldarchitektur was not only given the complex task of arranging the railway tracks anew. In particular, there was the task of integrating the historic train station from 1860 with its ‘authentic‘ appearance into a master plan that newly connects the boroughs on both sides of the tracks through several bridges and passageways. Reaching over eighteen tracks, the city had to be reconnected. Until then, the neighboring districts Elisabeth-Vorstadt and Schallmoos, situated in the area of the station, were joined only via a small passageway above the tracks. The highly elevated railway tracks and noise-protection walls amplified the barrier effect. The new plans foresaw functional as well as urban elements for integrating the station into the fabric of the city: a central, up to twenty metre wide underpass leading from the historic ‘Jugendstil‘ hall to a new train station entrance, creates a new connection from Elisabeth-Vorstadt to Schallmoos. The exchange between three railway bridges, west of the train station and new developments along the tracks, renew a connection between city an rail.
The Terminal Station becomes a Throughway Station The island-like station of the central perron, dating back to 1909 and built for the purpose of customs clearance, was abandoned. Besides the popularity of the marble hall (meanwhile put into storage for later reconstruction), the spatial situation of the central perron was not satisfactory and became redundant in respect to the open borders following the Schengen Agreement. The dark underground access to the tracks and the safety-related requirements of a contemporary station were a further reason for the conversion of the terminal.
A Synthesis of Memorial and Modernity A certain charm of the ‘new‘ lies in the aesthetic harmony of all historic and modern elements. In their new position, the new dynamic platform roofs and the delicate 1908 historic platform halls form a surprising and comfortable large configuration. The tracks as well as the platforms are covered mainly in glass, transparent membrane roofs, and pneumatic air-cushions. Thus a bright and transparent station hall is created with totally new characteristics.
Urban Passageway with a View onto the Platforms The considerable height of historic station halls, which have lost their functionality since steam engines are not in use anymore, have been relocated in Salzburg at a second lower level. Parallel to the platform, a passageway accessible via the historic station hall opens underneath the tracks up to the upper level, and broadens the view underneath the historic vaults of the platforms. Thus, the platform hall in Salzburg generates a new typology for the construction of stations in general. kadawittfeldarchitektur overplayed the difficult problematic of the underground access to the tracks with a new typology of space in form of a dynamic passage design. With its energetic lines and natural light design, the passage conveys the image of an open space in a widening and narrowing traffic area within a moving urban topography.
Efficient Transport - Hub The Salburg Central Station is an important transport-hub in the trans-European railway network as well as in the newly created commuting rail system. Up to the end of the decade, 35,000 passengers are expected daily. Therefore it becomes even more important to channel the local and long-distance traffic flow through the historic reception hall and the forecourt of the station in the district of Schallmoos and to connect it directly to the public transportation system of the city.
Renovation with Ongoing Operation The expansion has taken place while the station was in full operation: 750 trains and 25,000 passengers per day required complex planning. For the alteration of the existing tracks above the passage, eight broadly spanning track-bearing structures had to be newly constructed on thirty-metre-deep reaching piles. The therein integrated geothermal system provides for almost the complete heat and cooling requirements of the station. Supply tunnels secure the logistics of the 3800 square metres of shopping area and the invisible servicing of the ÖBB. For each building phase, new customer guidance becomes necessary and requires from the users of the ÖBB a high level of flexibility and understanding.
Completion Schedule After beginning construction in 2009, the completion of the freight train facilities and the wings of the historic station were scheduled for 2014. Daily operation of the station and passenger traffic has been reorganised by the end of 2013. With the project’s final completion in 2014, kadawittfeldarchitektur had worked for more than 15 years this‘ on this construction of the century‘.