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Building justice

Salzburg courthouse, redesign and extension

EU-wide open competition, 1st prize

In earlier times it was believed that a courthouse should express the full majesty of the law. Upon crossing the threshold of the halls of justice the subject should feel small and insignificant. And, if sentenced to gaol, the citizen as convict should be hidden away from the public as far as possible.


Removing a Kafkaesque labyrinth

We rejected this traditional understanding of justice, in architectural terms too, and made a number of radical interventions in the Salzburg courthouse building.

Transparent and open, exactly the way we imagine jurisdiction in a democracy.


The 19th century palace-like building is a listed monument; we opened it up, demolished the prisons cells from the 1970s (the prison facility was moved to Puch-Urstein on the outskirts of the city) and removed the Kafkaesque internal labyrinth in which visitors almost inevitably lost their way.

Bridge building

We carefully adapted the characteristic language of this palace-like complex and opened the building towards the city by activating all the entrances and erecting a new, Y-shaped link in the courtyard from where you can now enter the complex via the main entrance. We have accommodated all the negotiation rooms in this bridge building that is positioned between the existing wings.


The architects have successfully achieved something very like squaring the circle.

architektur.aktuell (11/12)

Entry allowed

Now a striking justice centre opens towards the city on all sides. With its internal courtyards it presents the court in a new light: passers-by can now enter the building and admire it. It is transparent and open, reflecting the way we imagine jurisdiction in a democracy.


With this building we positively engage the citizens.



Crucial Interventions: Transparency, Orientation, Openness

Spatial composition

Using a varied arrangement of terraces, bridges, staircases and sunken courtyards, we have created a complex contemporary composition of urban and spatial design with an appealing tonality, enclosed in a relaxed way by a listed ‘ring of buildings’.


The way they handle the existing building fabric shows that the authors possess considerable experience and competence in the area of historic buildings.

Excerpt from the jury statement


By opening up the complex in a way that seems circumspect from the conservationist’s viewpoint but is perceived by the public as significant, we eliminate the old building’s authoritarian, hermetic character, in the process meshing it with the heterogeneous spaces of Salzburg’s old town.


The building is made clearer and easier to grasp and offers new routes and new insights and outlooks – in more senses than one.

[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





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