Date: 07.2011
Project typology: URBAN/HOUSING
Size: ~5200sqm
Location: WIEN, Austria


Project leader: Alex Cozma
Team: Oana Simionescu, Marton Tovissi, Silvia Tripsa, Smaranda Ghinita

Team: Maja Baldea, Claudiu Toma, Attila Wenczel, Krausz Zsolt

A walk through Hietzing shows you not only the obvious wealth of its residents, but also a fascinating collection of mostly Biedermeier and Grunderzeit villas. The approximately 50,000 residents of the 13th district stand out from most statistics in Vienna: unusually high income, geriatric tendencies in terms of age, high education, low percentage of foreigners. If the Empire has survived, it now lives in Hietzing.

City gates used to work as meeting points – places where people met the city. The gates were supposed to represent the city’s qualities and power. Central stations took over this task, later on, as the train became more and more important. As the car and plane were developed, the concept grew even bigger and iconic transportation hubs were built. As traffic gets more and more crowded and overwhelming, so do the stations – a perpetual buzz of traffic.

Speising station is the ‘gate’ of Heitzing – the aristocratic, green district of Vienna. People either come here as tourists – looking forward for their outdoor adventures – or as residents – getting back to their posh homes. The station needs to represent their expectations about the neighbourhood.

As you approach Hietzing by train, a green, hilly meadow surrounds you – an announcement of the city’s greenest district and a reminder of it’s romantic past.

The building is a two faced-geography: a green one and a gray one. The green one is a central point and signal in the parks map of the neighbourhood, while the gray one is used to connect people and create new urban relationships.

Through a series of simple geometrical operations, the compact, low density urban tissue on the south is connected with the more spread-out mono block tissue on the north. As the main volume is forged, the train pushes down on it, creating the topographical image of the station, protecting the development from noise, while offering the neighbourhood a new spot of green. The pushed-down green is used as recreational landscape, urban amphitheatre and promenade, while the opposite sides of the development connect to the urban surroundings.

From the green meadow, passengers are guided out in the urban space by the shape of the building. Out in the urban space, the building spreads out it’s ‘legs’ leaving rooms for squares of passing and social interaction.

Outside is as important and definitive as inside. What we proposed are not objects and an exterior reality, but continuity between forms that connect and disconnect, open and close, that focus and serve as focus. The building thus expands in reality, in a medium, in the environment.

A necklace of small squares is interlocked with the building’s legs. The squares open-up towards the outer limits of the site, linking the building to the surrounding urban context( views, paths, transport stations, traffic, parks, etc.), and closes towards the station. This offers each square a gradient of privacy, directs the traffic and improves light condition. Every square becomes a scene in an urban scenography designed to generate events and social interaction.

The housing blocks are higher where the squares are wider and lower in the opposite side. This offers, besides good lighting conditions and privacy, an interesting blend between the row house and the social housing typology – creating a gradient of scale.

At a more domestic level, the relationships between housing program, social groups and urban facilities is also orchestrated by the simple layout of the building.

The pragmatic, dry, pattern of the facade tries to regulate the specificity of every volume, while filling the spaces with light and directional views.

An architecture of overlapping surfaces: ‘lands over other lands’. Presences-absences posited through the paradoxical combination of densification and disappearance.

Rather than a partitioning of spaces or parcelling of uses, what is called for is an articulation of activities in a preferably free, fluid space only potentially nipped by hollows – mats – of services that reveal a concern for colonising the landscape – beyond the old distinctions between space able to be urbanised or not – through infiltration and distancing devices that would be bound no longer to strict geometric schemes but rather would be of a freer and more meaningful configuration. Devices that act by inserting, densifying and preserving at the same time.

No longer lovely volumes under the light, but rather ambiguous landscapes under the sky.