The National Council Chamber
The left wing of the Parliament Building accommodates the National Council Chamber. Originally the meeting hall of the Herrenhaus – the House of Lords – it had only 243 seats and was thus smaller than the Chamber of Deputies, but it was more richly decorated and had a different colour scheme than the latter.
This Hall, too, was inspired by the layout of a Greek theatre with rising tiers of seats facing the chair. The wall behind the podium was adorned with statues of personalities of Greek history, unlike the “Roman” House of Deputies, and the painted frieze above the columns represented scenes from ancient Greece.
This hall was completely destroyed by bombs in February 1945, and after the war it was decided to rebuild it in modern style.
In its present form the chamber was completed in 1956 according to plans by the architects Max Fellerer and Eugen Wörle, who were assisted by an acoustics expert. Its only decoration is the Austrian heraldic animal, an eagle made of chased steel by the artist Rudolf Hoflehner, on the wall behind the podium seating the National Council President. Currently the hall has 192 seats.
At the lowest level, the floor of the House, is an electrically adjustable speaker’s desk, and in front of it small tables for the stenographers and members of the parliamentary media service.
The government bench is behind the speaker’s desk, and behind the bench a raised podium seating the President of the National Council; to the right of it is the rapporteur’s desk, from which also the names of Members are read when voting is by name or by secret ballot.
To the left of the seat of the National Council President are those of the staff members of the Parliamentary Administration who assist the President in chairing the sitting. On either side of the Presidium are the places of ministerial officials and the staff of parliamentary groups.
Behind the Members’ seats arranged in a semicircle are two galleries. The lower gallery contains boxes for the Head of State, diplomats and Members of the Federal Council as well as two glazed boxes accommodating radio and television equipment, as well as boxes on the far left and right reserved for journalists.
The upper gallery hold 180 seats as well as standing room for another 60 visitors who wish to attend the debates.