Taking a tour of the tower

By Jo Weaden
November 20, 2019

The 12th century Red Tower was close to dereliction before the owners enlisted Mark Gillette Interior Architecture and Design to restore its original elements while creating a modern family home in the heart of the historic centre of Salzburg, Austria.

Originally used as a gunpowder store for the nearby Hohensalzburg Castle, the Red Tower was in a semi-derelict state. The building had two wings added in the 19th century, wooden panelling and stained glass had been introduced to try to disguise the border between the old and new.

Mark Gillette Interior Architecture and Design constructed a concrete box extension in addition to enclosing the original courtyard with a glass roof and incorporating a castellated rooftop, creating a glazed viewing room used for summer dining.

“I wanted to create a modern 21st century winter family house but also demonstrate that we were developing the building without detracting from the original structure,” Gillette says.

The brief was to create a comfortable and modern home over five floors within an Austrian monument whilst retaining historic elements of the building.

“I have worked with the owners of The Red Tower on five previous properties thought Europe. My clients fell in love with and bought this iconic building seven years ago and they asked me to work with them to create a wonderful city home,”  Gillette adds.

The project faced many challenges – in particular the regulations that had to be met when working with a 12th-century property.

“I well understand the challenges of updating historic buildings and because the Red Tower is a National monument, we had to work extremely closely with the authorities to ensure we retained the key features of the property,” says Countess Elizabeth Eltz, who owns the Red Tower.

Other obstacles included blending the 12th, 19th and 21st century sections of the house, along with a partly collapsed roof and a major rising damp problem.

The interior complements the combination of modern and historic architecture by injecting traditional elements such as brass door furniture and iron lighting, commissioned from Jamb.

A diverse mix of antique furniture and artwork have been incorporated, combined with contemporary British-made furnishings and abstract paintings by Marcus Prachensky, an Austrian artist.

The project references its locality with alpine details throughout the home, with wooden framing of the contemporary bathroom and master bedroom.

Såtones and marbles have been sourced from the Salzburg area and local craftspeople were employed to restore the tower to its former glory.