Discerned at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, The Prix Versailles comprises a series of awards for the most remarkable commercial structures, from the point of view of both the interior and exterior architecture. The Continental Committee and the Secrétariat du Prix Versailles have deliberated and decided to award Shopping Mall WEZ – Das weststeirische Einkaufszentrum.
Built in the 1970s, the shopping mall WEZ – Das weststeirische Einkaufszentrum in Bärnbach near Graz is an example of the first generation of malls in Austria. Over the course of the years, the property has become dilapidated and has not been particularly inviting. Demolition has been a serious option. Nevertheless, the owners has decided to renovate it and thanks to BEHF Architects, the shopping mall WEZ has been upgraded into a modern-age facility designed to suit contemporary retail trends.
WEZ comes with a novel look and an improved functional organisation. The room layout has been rearranged in such a way that it ensures the optimal use of space and an extended rentable area. The dominant feature in the interior is a large atrium with circular roof lights which enables easy viewing of the stores and an efficient circulation. Round light funnels in the ceiling run along the entire atrium and bring daylight down to the ground. Lighting units also relate to the circle. Depending on the season and time of the day, one can easily change the atmosphere of the space playing with natural and artificial light. Uniform granite flooring and wooden panels on the ceiling play an important role in making the space warm and inviting.