Modern design in an ecological shell: The customer center of ÖGK Freistadt
09. November 2021
In St. Peter street nr. 6 in the city of Freistadt (upper Austria), the new customer center of the Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK) with approx. 1.600 m² of floor space was opened in spring. In addition to the ecological aspects and the durability of the new building, the exact adherence to the costs as well as the flexible and rapid implementation in 19 months were special highlights. The ceramic facade is a central design element of the project, meeting both aesthetic and functional requirements.
The new building primarily serves ÖGK’s health mission: providing personal care to 37.000 insured persons, answering 40.000 calls, and helping 6.000 people with dental problems each year. It includes the customer service office, the medical/chief medical area, the dental health center, and a seminar area. DELTA prevailed in award procedures and was responsible for the general planning including tendering and local site supervision in the project.
URBAN PLANNING SITUATION
The new customer service center of the Austrian Health Insurance Fund was built in a central location in the city center of Freistadt and blends in perfectly with its surroundings. With its total of three above-ground floors, the new customer service center presents itself confidently along Sankt-Peter-Street and is visible to ÖGK customers from afar. Access to ÖGK is from the east via Sankt-Peter-Street and leads to the building via the newly constructed spur road. There, all customer spaces are arranged compactly and in close proximity to the entrance. The ambulance/taxi has the possibility to park directly in front of the building and pick up the patients protected from the weather.
The building is very compact in its design language and has the efficient structural form of a cuboid. The recess at the front of the building opens it up, giving it an inviting, customer-oriented appearance and assuming a protective function. The access situation is opened by a generous forecourt and guides the customer to the visually highlighted entrance area. This entrance area is additionally highlighted by accentuation in the colour of ÖGK in green and serves as an orientation aid. The recessed glass core on the ground and second floors brings light into the building and places the customer at the center. In the entrance or arrival area of the customer service center, one is welcomed in an open waiting zone and the customer-oriented service area.
MATERIALITY AND FACADE
Due to the hierarchically divergent composition of the enclosing main and recessed structure, the curtain wall ventilated ceramic facades also differ in coloration. In order to create a homogeneous aesthetic in the facade of the building structure, the anthracite-coloured core and entrance area set to the rear also features a ceramic look. With its history and feel, the traditional and ecological building material clay/ceramics reflects the fundamental importance of healthcare and is ideally suited for the facade of ÖGK due to its robustness and durability.
DESIGN OF THE INTERIOR
The interior materials are also coordinated and subject to the color and material concept as well as the specified requirements and regulations of ÖGK. The floor coverings are tile, linoleum, or carpet, depending on the requirements of the rooms. These match each other in a medium gray tone in terms of colour and thus harmoniously. The colour scheme of the floor tiles has a positive effect on the cleaning intervals. It also gives the rooms a very homely, high-quality appearance and demonstrates restrained elegance. The ecological choice of materials was just as important in the interior as in the exterior.
SUSTAINABILITY AND SOCIO-CULTURAL ASPECTS
In the new ÖGK building, all three aspects of sustainability (ecological, economic and socio-cultural) are incorporated and form a strong foundation for a sustainable building. Ceramic/clay was chosen for the ventilated facade because it is a natural building material that is available in sufficient quantities on earth. Ceramic as a facade material is easy to clean, very robust, and durable, which has a positive effect on the life cycle costs of the building. The whole shape of the building with the inviting and protective setback, the light-flooded customer service and waiting areas has been developed by us with the aim of creating a pleasant atmosphere for customers. The design comprehensively supports staff in their activities and working comfort by providing them with direct access to the staff area without having to cross the waiting zone.
“Our modern customer service embodies the new, strong ÖGK in the heart of the Mühlviertel region: a proven team provides the best services for insured persons in a modern environment. Everything just fits together there!”, Michael Pecherstorfer, chairman of the ÖGK regional committee in Upper Austria, is pleased to say.
Sabrina Schubert, architect and project manager at DELTA, describes: “We have fully responded to the wishes of the users without deviating from the central design idea of natural lighting in the waiting areas. For example, at the dentist’s office, it’s particularly important to offer customers a certain feel-good factor.”