Building Histories

The biography of a town can be seen in many places. Amongst others its buildings and the layout of its plazas and the roads leading to them. Join us on a small tour through Dornbirn city centre with a few pauses for reflection.

Marktplatz – This relatively large plaza has always been lined with inns and taverns. Meetings were held here and the town’s mayors were chosen by popular vote. Many
Dornbirn residents still remember the busy traffic that once circulated through this market square and this was once the busiest road junction in the whole of Vorarlberg.
However, the area was pedestrianised in 1989.
St. Martin’s church – The parish church of St. Martin was first mentioned in 1278. Since then there have been several new church buildings on this site. The free-standing tower was constructed nearly 200 years later. It was then raised up to approx. 60 metres in 1767. The square is dominated by the church and its classicistic style. Beside the church, the church tower and vicarage are equally as impressive buildings. The vicarage was constructed in
historicistic style in 1901. Architect Hanns Kornberger drafted plans for the overhanging gable and round ionic columns, providing the parish church with its very own
stylistic uniqueness. In the more recent past (2008/09) the church has been converted to the parish centre by architects Michael Heim and Wolfgang Ritsch.

Rotes Haus, Marktplatz 13 – The house was constructed in 1639 replacing the old vicarage, which burnt  down in 1570. It is still possible today to gain a good insight  into the wooden construction methods used back  in those days. Notable are the groups of windows in fourparts,  the painted, retractable window shutters and the  eaves decorated with vines. The red colour was obtained  by using the protective paint used at the time, described  as ‘ox blood’. The house has a particular significance in the  history of Dornbirn. In 1655 the citizens gathered on the  outside steps of the Rotes Haus in order to prevent the  sale of the town of Dornbirn to the Counts of Hohenems.
City Archive and Stadtmuseum, Marktplatz 11 – Josef  Anton Lanter, industrialist and community mayor, commissioned  the construction of this grand town house in  1796. The building subsequently became the Headquarters  of the industrial family Rhomberg. It was purchased  by the city of Dornbirn in 1958 and today houses the City  archive and museum.
Luger-Haus, Marktplatz 9 – The building, originally  the barn and stables of the Feurstein-Haus, was re-purposed  as a tavern, the ‘Sonne’. It was renovated in the  old-German style in 1901/02. Note the contoured gable,  the small bay alcove and the corner tower with the timber  frame. Also worth mentioning is the Art Nouveau plasterwork  decoration, the wooden veranda on the rear of  the building and the internal renovations in post-modernist  style after a fire in the year 1987. Today, the building  houses the chambers of a law firm, a children’s bookshop  and the legendary Café Steinhauser.

Vorarlberger Naturschau, Marktstraße 33 – This former administrative and warehouse building of the textile firm J. A. Winder was constructed in 1882. In 1960
a natural history museum was opened on the same site. The ‘Vorarlberger Naturschau’ was realised on the initiative of Siegfried Fußenegger, a local industrialist. After
the departure of the Naturschau this town house became a multi-use facility with a cultural emphasis: the FLATZ Museum, the Vorarlberger Architektur Institut and the
offices of the Kunstraum Dornbirn are all housed here. The ground floor is home to a bookshop and the Restaurant Innauer. The current facade of the building is the result
of a renovation by architects Dietrich Untertrifaller.
c.art Gallery, Marktstraße 45 – Dornbirn experienced  a building boom in the 1960s. Very few of the buildings  erected during this period can lay claim to any particular
architectural qualities. However, this building designed  by architect Ernst Hiesmayr and completed in 1972 is  one of the few and its modern design was hotly disputed
amongst the population of the city at that time. Originally  built as a residential and commercial building by the  building owner, Christoph Zünd, this unusual design still
looks at its best today.
Adolf-Rhomberg-Haus, Marktstraße 26 – The industrialist  Marx Alois Luger constructed this house in  1798/99 based on the plans by master builder Sigmund  Hilbe. Eduard Rhomberg purchased the house in 1834.  His son Adolf was the Provincial governor of Vorarlberg  between 1890 and 1918. During this period the Art nouveau  details were added by architect Hanns Kornberger.  The professional association of the Vorarlberg construction  industry purchased the house in 1987-90.
Capuchin monastery, Marktstraße 49 – As a thank you  for the recuperation of his severely ill wife, provincial governor  Adolf Rhomberg gifted a Capuchin monastery opposite
his own residence. The church dedicated to St. Joseph  was built in 1893/94. In 2004 the monastery was handed  over to the Franciscan Province of Poznan in Poland.
Music school, Rosenstraße 6 Brick is a building material  that once flourished in Dornbirn during the time of the  textile industry and numerous villas were built in the English  style. The building that today houses the city’s Music  school also bears the marks of this cultural exchange. It was  built in 1900/01 as a finishing school for girls. The original  Art Nouveau glazing of the stairwell is worth seeing.
Heilandskirche – The design of this Evangelical church  in Rosenstraße follows the plans of architect Otto Bartning  and was built in the years 1930-31. The plans were  obtained from another parish in Bohemia, where they  had already been used in the construction of another  church. The building has an octagonal shape, from which  the entrance, two staircases and the choir and sacristy are  formed in perfect symmetry. The building is completed  by a polygonal spire with lantern.
Schloßguggerhaus, Sebastianstraße 24 – The so-called  ‘Schloßgugger-Haus’ is the oldest house still standing in  Dornbirn and dates back to the year 1294. It is also interesting
from a construction history perspective, with  its vertical timbering construction, quarry stone brickwork,  paired windows and rounded doorways. According  to rumour, there is an underground tunnel linking the  Schloßgugger-Haus to the Oberdorfer Turm.