coop himmelb(l)au to embed an underground science center in a matera quarry

coop himmelb(l)au to embed an underground science center in a matera quarry

oasis science center: a model for sustainable design in italy


Coop Himmelb(l)au unveils a groundbreaking project, the ‘Oasis Science Center,’ for the South of Italy‘s unique region of Matera. The region is renowned for its ancient ‘Sassi’ housing settlements embedded into the rock, along with its ‘Calcarenite’ limestone quarries, which are the same material that characterize the Sassi di Matera. The rehabilitation of these quarries has been the subject of international studies and design ideas. Within just two kilometers from Matera is an inactive quarry which the design team will repurpose for the public, introducing a series of mixed-use building structures that draw inspiration from the area’s long history.

Coop Himmelb(l)au materaimages courtesy Coop Himmelb(l)au



a space for green energy research


Coop Himmelb(l)au aims for its ‘Oasis Science Center’ in Matera to stand as a leading example for ongoing research on green energy, as it aims to integrate new technologies with traditional and local systems. The architects prioritize such themes as nature conservation, energy self-sufficient operation, and sustainable tourism — all with the goal of creating a natural and sustainable integration of the project into the existing structures, rather than developing a landmark in the traditional sense.

Coop Himmelb(l)au matera



contemporary caverns by coop himmelb(l)au


With the ‘Oasis Science Center,’ Coop Himmelb(l)au will link the city of Matera with an historic archaeological park known as the Parco Regionale della Murgia Materana. The design includes three functionally different building structures embedded in the flowing landscape. The largest building structure, the Quarry Terraces, is a research and residential cluster that includes laboratories, co-working spaces, and dormitories nestled in the green terraces of the quarry. The Plateau, the second building structure, includes a conference and wellness center, as well as a sundial garden. The third type of building is a Rock Restaurant at the entrance to the quarry that provides a dining experience for residents and guests. Additionally, architectural structures such as an amphitheater and a solar farm will be embedded into the quarry.

Coop Himmelb(l)au matera



The terraced landscape of the quarry, which was created by the quarrying of stone, is being renatured through targeted interventions with plants from the region,’ the team explains. ‘As a result, the wound in the landscape heals, and land is given back to nature with the spectrum of plants typical of this region.


The project’s ultimate aim is to create an innovation center for research on nature and sustainability in the upper part of the Murgia National Park. It will be an important modern icon for sustainable design in the region, shaping a new way of dealing with the environment. The ‘Oasis Science Center’ will be a vital new gateway to the region, opening it up to the outside world and providing a model for future scientific development.

Coop Himmelb(l)au matera


Coop Himmelb(l)au matera




project info:


project title: Oasis of Matera

architecture: Coop Himmelb(l)au @coophimmelblau

location: Matera, Italy


client: Matera Inerti, Matera

planning: COOP HIMMELB(L)AU Wolf D. Prix & Partner
design principal: Wolf D. Prix
managing partner: Markus Prossnigg (until 04/2022)
project partner: Alexander Ott
design architect: Shir Katz
project coordinator: Angelo Stagno
project team: Katharina Kraschitz, Nina Shabalina, Irina Sorokina,
Albert Sumin, Poltak Pandjaitan, Shahar Abelson, Barbara Schickermueller,
Jan Rancke, Constantin Papachristopoulos, Hamid Abolahrar,
Sarah Flößholzer, Stephan Sammer

structural engineering: B+G Ingenieure Bollinger und Grohmann, Vienna
energy design: Energy Design Cody, Graz, Austria

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