Cloud Tower by the next ENTERprise – architects



Cloud Tower is a pavilion for open-air concerts in the grounds of a castle near Vienna, Austria, designed by the next ENTERprise - architects. Photographs are by Lukas Schaller.


Located at Grafenegg Castle along with the copper-clad concert hall in our previous story, the auditorium occupies an existing depression in the landscape, accentuated by further excavations.


Visitors enter the auditorium through a corridor cut into the small hill created with the displaced earth


The auditorium has 1,670 seats with a further 300 on the lawn, while the stage can accommodate an orchestra withup to 200 performers.


The 23 metre tall, steel stage-roof is made of steel and glass, reflecting the surrounding sky and trees.


Here's some more information from the architects:


Project title: Wolkenturm – Freiluftbühne & Schlosspark Grafenegg / Cloud Tower – Open-air pavilion Grafenegg

the next ENTERprise - architects
Land in Sicht – landscaping

The castle grounds of Grafenegg are almost 250 years old. Every period has left its traces, and this stylistic variety is one of the reasons for the park's appeal. The area, with the castle and moat at its centre, has a size of approx. 31 ha.


The park and its dendrological collection are open year round and are accessible from two main entrances on the west and east side.


The open-air pavilion in the park is used as a stage during festival season in summer, and as a attraction for excursionists and flaneurs – similar to the gazebos in historical landscape gardens, which were designed as a destination or a stop-over on extended walks.


The pavilion is part of a relational field, recontextualizing the existing elements of the ensemble: the 'new' entrance, the riding school, the castle, the 'Black Gate' and the 'Große Senke' (lit. transl.: large depression). With great ease the pavilion inserts itself into the landscape and, through its topographical configuration, reinterprets formal elements of the landscape garden – the play with perspective and visual relations, with contraction and expansion, with enclosure and opening.


The "Schneise" (loosely translated: an incision in the landscape) creates a vista linking the riding school to the Black Gate, and serves as an entrance to and a passage through the auditorium area. The staging of views and spatial sequences, the framing and hiding of points of attraction, often achieved by the meandering layout of paths in the traditional landscape garden, is a theme taken up by varying the elevation of the incision to achieve this effects. Coming from the castle, the visitor is enticed to proceed by the silhouette of the "cloud tower", visible behind the artificial mound. Immersing himself into the incision, he tunnels through the hill and – after passing this deep narrow – enters the wide arena of the auditorium and the stage, the 'cloud tower' of the stage roof suspended above it.


The basic rule of acoustics for open-air stages, 'what you see is what you hear' serves as a cue to explore affinities between perspective and acoustic space. The topography of the existing depression – the "Große Senke" – is amplified by modeling the terrain. Artificial hillocks are created by further excavating the depression and subsequently redistributing the soil at its perimeter. Clearly distinguished from the natural terrain by their geometry, stage and auditorium nonetheless merge fluidly with the topography of the site.


The stage roof is designed as an autonomous, sculptured object. Suspended above the landscape on a level with the tree canopies it is placed among the groups of trees as if it were one more of them. The shiny metal surface on the outside reflects the sky and the trees, turning into a cloud-tower.


landscaping: Land in Sicht, Dipl. Ing. Thomas Proksch
structural engineering: Bergmeister und Partner, Dipl. Ing. Josef Taferner
acoustics: Müller-BBM, Dipl.-Ing. (FH) M. Wahl


basic data
address: Grafenegg 10, A-3485 Grafenegg
country: Austria
client: Grafenegg Kultur Betriebsges.m.b.H., St. Pölten, A
architect: the next ENTERprise – e.j.fuchs | mth.harnoncourt
type: music pavilion

additional information
resident orchestra: Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich
artistic director Grafenegg International Music Festival: Rudolf Buchbinder


competition: Feburary 2005
planning phase since: August 2005
under construction since: July 2006
completed in: June 2007

Paul Vabitsch, Egon Niedertscheider, Hannes Oswald, Maja Ozvaldic, Marianna Milioni, Daniel Harrer, Waltraud Hoheneder, Claudia Cavallar

overall planning: ARGE the next ENTERprise | Land in Sicht
architect: the next ENTERprise – e.j.fuchs | mth.harnoncourt
landscaping: Land in Sicht, Thomas Proksch, Wien / Vienna
structural engineering: Ingenieurteam GmbH Bergmeister, Josef Taferner, Jochen Ehmann, Vahrn / Varna, I
acoustics: Müller-BBM GmbH, Prof. Karlheinz Müller, München / Munich, D
light design: Ploderer & Partner, Christian Ploderer, Wien / Vienna
light planning: Wiltschko Lichtplanung, Berndorf, A
calculation: sglw architekten, Werner Silbermayr, Wien / Vienna
reinforced concrete materials consulting
Ingenieurbüro Prof. Schießl, Christian Sodeikat, München / Munich, D.


project management: NÖ Hypo Bauplanungs- und Bauträgergesellschaft m.b.H., Johannes Reiterlehner, St. Pölten
controlling: Azberger-Höss ZT GmbH, St. Pölten

construction supervision: BM Horst Pratter, Judendorf-Straßengel
supervision landscaping: Land in Sicht, Andreas Beneš
building physics: Wolfgang Hebenstreit, Wien / Vienna
geological survey: Mario J. Pototschnik, Wien / Vienna
site survey: Gerhard Senftner, St. Pölten
HKLSE-Planung: Christian Koppensteiner, Wien / Vienna

general contractor: Alpine Mayreder Bau GmbH, Zweigniederlassung NÖ, Horn
steel construction: Pagitz Metalltechnik GmbH, Wien / Vienna
prefabricated concrete: Alfred Trepka GmbH, Ober-Grafendorf
drywall: Perchtold Trockenbau GesmbH, Wiener Neudorf
Schlosserarbeiten: Heinrich Renner Ges.m.b.H., Langenlois
carpenter: Pöchlhacker Holzbau GmbH, Ybbs
glazing: Rigo-Glas GmbH, Wien / Vienna
paint: Farben Traht, Etsdorf am Kamp
electrical installation & equipment: Eichinger&Stuber, Langenlois
plumbing equipment & installation: Caliqua Gebäudetechnik GmbH, Wiener Neudorf
garden & landscape gardening: Kanovsky Gmbh, Klagenfurt


technical data
seats: 1.670 auditorium seats, 300 lawn seats
height of stage roof: 23 m
stage width: approx. 20 m
stage depth: approx. 11 m
maximum orchestra stength: approx. 200 artists
net floor area: 651 m²
 stage: 228 m² 
backstage area: 203 m²
 artists’ washrooms: 27 m² 
 acoustic buffer: 16 m²
 artists’ wardrobes: 35 m²  piano storage: 11 m²
 HVAC room: 15 m² audience washrooms: 115 m²
Park area: 31,5 ha

Stage structure: concrete; stage roof: steel/glass; auditorium: prefabricated concrete; stage backdrop: double-layered lightweight structure.

Posted on Tuesday July 14th 2009 at 10:50 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • yimyim

    Actually, I^d be interested to know how exactly you do provoke the random and the unpredictable – but more importantly how you decide what is relevant. Formalism is alive and well, for the delight of some…

  • rodger

    a train wreck. in parts a nice train wreck. interior and entry are the most successful and believable parts of this project. otherwise, painfully over wrought.
    coop himmelblau do this kind of architecture much better. sorry.

  • moor

    this has as much timelessness as an icecube

  • rockstar

    yes, yes, yes! absolutely stunning and well done! more of this please…

  • Enceladus

    “acoustics for open-air stages, ‘what you see is what you hear’ ”
    then, that must me a hell of a lot of noise…

  • w

    a cubist sculpture of a building! you cannot deny it is visually striking. Too much concrete perhaps for my tastes (especially 3rd image down)

  • windbag

    very nice, too bad for the squared auditorium in prefabricated
    concrete which spoils a bit the whole thing.

  • apiss

    them austrians are rising.. great

  • Wow, that plays with my eyes! I bet it’ll make for some interesting acoustics though!

  • i think its absolutely amazing, visually. im wondering, though, with all that steel and glass on the building reflecting the sky, doesnt that mean that the sun is in your eyes like 24/7? and since the entertainers on the stage are shadowed by the tower and uve got the sun in your eyes, wont it be hard to see them? you know, like on a sunny day when your trying to look at a driver through his car window. or say a regular window or even and open one, its really hard to see whats going on in the building your looking at, but the people in there can see you (and everything in the building) perfectly well.

    hm. maybe the audience will be the actual entertainers here.

  • PaRa

    Undoubtedly bold, muscular architecture that is having a lot of fun with space and planes. For me its shortcomings seem to be the way it meets the landscape and relates to the trees. Stated aims of integration (e.g. “with great ease the pavilion inserts itself into the landscape” and “it is placed among the groups of trees as if it were one more of them”) are not met rather it is a tough, almost viscious incision and harsh juxtaposition. The result appears to be a “maximal” and “complicated” solution against the “optimal” and “complex” systems of the trees. I certainly don’t get the impression this practice is at all interested in ecology.

  • jed_

    i think they have acheived something here that eisenmann, gehry and libeskind have failed to do but…. a little too late.

  • Melibi

    Wooooooooooooow amazing……i realy like it in my mind….

  • mel


  • Nick the Greek

    This is bloody awesome, not very original and not sure if it will still be cool in 10 years time, but for me, right now, it’s brilliant.

  • xtiaan

    hella cool

  • afshin

    The elevation shows a large mass in movement specialty in second photo…love it.

  • testah

    these pictures aren’t too flattering and don’t come close to what impact it has on you in real life.

    check out some of those here

  • the building is so nice
    i like the way it has been integrated with its site amid its un organic form
    the choice of out door finishing materials could be more sensetive but still nice.
    i have i asked my architecture students to make a representation of this building by redrawing all its drawings as well as making a model from it for their first project of design 3 , they liked it and it helped their creativity and imaginations.

  • jason

    Sick. Great drawings, too.