The Austrian government this week presented the winning competition entry for the redesign of a historic, inconspicuous looking house in the small town of Braunau am Inn.
The true significance of the brief lies in the building's weighty history and its most infamous former resident: Fascist dictator Adolf Hitler was born there in April 1889 and lived in the house for three years before the Hitler family moved to Germany.
The selected redesign proposal by Austrian firm Marte.Marte Architekten seeks to "neutralize" the sensitive site with a reduced, modern overhaul.
"You can recognize a country's democratic culture by dealing with its history, and it has taken Austria a long time to face up to its own history," Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said at the presentation of the competition results yesterday in Vienna.
Responding to the building's new function as a police station after the overhaul, Nehammer emphasized: "More than 140 years after the birth of Adolf Hitler, his birthplace in Braunau becomes an antithesis of everything he stood for: a place where democracy and human rights are defended, a place that offers security from persecution and enables a look ahead toward peace and freedom."
While the plan to turn the politically charged building into a police station mainly aims at deterring Neo-Nazis from visiting the site, critics complained that the structure should have housed other cultural and educational functions, as it had in the past, instead.
The project is scheduled to be completed by 2023.
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