Former steelworks building becomes one of Graz’s premier arts venues

The designation of Graz as European Capital of Culture in 2003 was one of the key drivers behind the decision to convert a former steelworks factory into a multifunctional hall to host cultural events.

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The former steelworks was converted into an arts venue (Photo: Harald Eisenberger) The former steelworks was converted into an arts venue (Photo: Harald Eisenberger)

The Helmut List Halle, as it is now called, swiftly became one of Styria’s most important music venues and regularly hosts arts festivals such as Steirischer Herbst and Styriarte as well as international conferences, meetings and other events, such as a popular wine-tasting festival.

A distinctive feature of the elegantly converted building is the fact that an external wall has been fitted out with one of Austria’s largest photovoltaic systems, consisting of 370 square meters of solar cells. These cells pump an annual 29 000 kilowatt-hours of green electricity into the local electricity grid. With the aim of increasing the environmental awareness of visitors and passers-by, the current power output of the system appears on digital information panels installed close to the hall’s entrance.

European seed funding encouraged private and public investment

Gerhard Ablasser, of the City of Graz, said that the project was a good example of how a relatively small amount of European seed funding can be used to leverage in other sources of finance, both private (in this case, EUR 2 370 000) and public (EUR 760 000).

The 2400-seat hall, known for its fine acoustics, attracted 365 000 visitors to attend cultural events during the first five years of its existence.

The successful project has revitalised a brown field site to the west of Graz’s Central Station and brought cultural and leisure facilities to a part of the city that was predominantly industrial. Meanwhile, the hall’s showcase solar energy system has become an iconic symbol of the city’s aim of establishing itself as a hub for developing green energy technology.

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