The historic centre of Vienna is rich in architecture, including Baroque castles and gardens as well as the late-nineteenth-century Ringstraße lined with grand buildings, monuments and parks. Since 2001 the historic centre has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Peek & Cloppenburg flagship store is situated on Kärntner Straße, the central shopping street within this protected area. The new building is sensitive to the historic context while asserting its own identity as a modern department store.
The design of the new building refers to the typology of nineteenth century department stores and mediates between this tradition, the historic building fabric and a contemporary architectural language. The solid façade is built using a light-coloured, bush-hammered Danube limestone, giving the building a distinctive presence within the context of the surrounding rendered façades. Large windows puncture the elevation in a regular grid pattern and frame views of the city from within. The ratio of window to wall is comparable with its historic neighbours. The shop windows at ground-floor level sit flush with the natural stone, while on the upper floors the glazing is recessed, showing the depth of the window reveals. The fourth floor opens up with a loggia facing the city. The position of the glazing reflects the façade arrangement of the neighbouring historic buildings with an articulated base, body and cornice.
The retail areas extend over the ground floor, basement and four upper floors, and are characterised by a material concept with a reduced palette. Plastered white walls and oiled oak parquet flooring provide a simple backdrop for the presentation of clothes and accessories. The supports and architraves are crafted from sandblasted reinforced concrete units and form a strong tectonic component of the main supporting structure of the building. These structural elements define the naturally lit atrium, which adopts a central position within the retail area and links all the floors vertically. The Danube limestone used in the façade is repeated in the atrium as a polished floor surface. A cast-aluminium and glass structure crowns the atrium – an element of nineteenth-century department stores that can be found in the major European cities of London, Vienna and Paris. The bespoke atrium structure is a contemporary interpretation of this traditional design element, with a pattern based on circular arcs.