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Building justice

Salzburg courthouse, redesign and enlargement

EU-wide open competition, 1st prize

It used to be that courthouses were designed to express the full majesty of the law. Subjects were intended to feel small and insignificant as they crossed the threshold into the halls of justice. And if sentenced to imprisonment, the citizen-turned-convict was to be hidden from public view to the greatest possible extent.

We broke with this obsolete understanding of justice and the obsolete architecture that goes with it, bringing this courthouse in Salzburg into the 21st century with an open, transparent, and low-threshold concept.

Transparent and open, exactly how we envision the justice system in a democracy.

Contemporary Justice

The decision to move the local prison facility from the Salzburg Courthouse (located at the edge of Salzburg’s old town) to Puch-Urstein freed up space for use by the public prosecutor’s office and Salzburg’s regional court. Accordingly, we proceeded to open up this historically listed 19th-century palace, eliminating its 1970s-era prison cells along with the Kafkaesque, labyrinthine aspects of its interior that only ever caused visitors to get lost.

The final result is a striking courthouse facility that is open to the city on all sides, with the inner courtyards now allowing the complex to be entered and admired by passersby. It has thus become a place that’s transparent and open, exactly how we envision the justice system in a democracy.

Independent Orientation

To open up this formerly palace-like complex, we activated all passageways and entrances while also putting up a new, Y-shaped connecting structure in the courtyard. This new, glassed-in structure houses most of the courtrooms as well as the new main entrance. And from the atrium here, which connects all floors and affords views into and through the inner courtyard, it’s easy to get one’s bearings within the context of the whole.

What the architects have succeeded in doing here is quite close to squaring the circle.

architektur.aktuell (11/12)

A Monument Transformed

In our work to remodel and expand Salzburg’s courthouse, we combined three approaches ranging from new construction to work on the existing substance – which ultimately resulted in a new, harmonious whole.

The way in which they treated the existing structure is indicative of the architectural designers’ high degree of experience and skill in dealing with historic buildings.

Excerpt from the Jury Statement
Fundamental interventions: Transparency, Orientation, Opening

New Perspectives

By opening up this complex with care for the historic substance but to nonetheless significant public effect, we’ve eliminated this building’s authoritarian and hermetic former character while integrating it into the heterogenous environment of Salzburg’s historic city center.

What’s more, visitors can view the city’s world-famous sea of rooftops from the complex’s own rooftop café, which we placed upon the flat roof of our new addition.

[EN] Umbau und Erweiterung des Justizgebäudes Salzburg
3rd floor

[EN] Umbau und Erweiterung des Justizgebäudes Salzburg
Ground floor
[EN] Umbau und Erweiterung des Justizgebäudes Salzburg
1st floor

Salzburg courthouse

[EN] Grundriss Erdgeschoss
Site plan


Type of commission

EU-weit offener Wettbewerb

Scope of commission



Staatspreis Architektur und Nachhaltigkeit 2019


Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft m.b.H.









Net usable floor area

21.200 m²

Gross floor area

27.300 m²

Building costs

53,3 Mio. €


Ursula Gau (PL), Norbert Peller, Uta Deri, Thomas Rögelsperger, Linda Ercusi, Monika Liebmann-Zugschwert, Barbara Wagner, Michael Schneller, Tamás Kurucsó, Karin Hackl, Werner Reifner, Anna Ladurner, Dieter Fellner, Eva Fischer


Structural engineer

kppk ZT GmbH

Building physics

kppk ZT GmbH

Building services

Zentraplan Planungsges.mbH

Lighting design

Christian Ploderer

Landscape planning

Rajek Barosch Landschaftsarchitektur

Fire safety planning

Norbert Rabl ZT GmbH

Facade design

Face of Buildings planning stimakovits Gmbh

Cost management

Atelier 23 Architekten ZT GmbH


Lukas Schaller