Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Campus WU – Master Plan and Landscaping in Vienna, Austria by BUSarchitektur
December 6th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: BUSarchitektur
OPEN SPACE AT THE CAMPUS WU
The Campus is a sequence of intertwining open spaces. Buildings on the different zones qualify these spaces from an architectural point of view. The Master Plan model determined the design of these open areas; a fabric of interior and exterior spaces, defined by the location of the buildings’ entrances in relation to the plazas, brings life to the intended environment.
At the same time the free space on Vienna’s new Campus WU provides a setting and a context for its architectural objects. In acting as a setting it defines boundaries and intersections with neighbouring plots, as well as spatial sequences that help create a harmonious whole. As a context, the free space provides spots for active exchange as well as places for learning and quiet research.
The Campus is conceived as a Walk Along Park with sequences of plazas acting as “stations” that lead to specific sections of the Campus along different paths between green spaces. The sequences are designed so that each “training path” also becomes an experiential journey. Fundamental to the quality of any location is the permanent visual relationship with the Prater Park, evergreen in its presence.
FUNCTIONAL ARTICULATION OF CAMPUS WU
In addition to fulfilling the social functions of the Vienna University of Economics and Business, the Campus also permits and encourages urban community activities, which have positive impacts on both the immediate area and the region as a whole. These ideas, presented within a broader context, are described in detail in the Master Plan Manuals put together for the Architectural Competitions.The technical determinants of the Campus are described in the Integral Concept Master Plan guidelines as well as in reports by the respective specialists. Here the description focuses on the spatial configuration of the Campus from a multidisciplinary perspective.
The spatial landscaping parameters largely fall into three groups: the articulation between the urban space and the University by means of a green boundary that blends into the Campus; the formation of a sequence of six plazas each with a different atmosphere; and the specification of each building zone to include a mixture of various materiality and particular spatial and functional qualities, while remaining articulated with the Campus as a whole.
OPEN SPACE AND LANDSCAPE
The Green Boundary around the Campus
The entire Campus is surrounded by trees and shrubs that function as a natural green boundary. This boundary represents a filter towards the adjacent Prater Park and the city, as well as for the local vehicular traffic. The Campus is accessible through six entrances and five pedestrian passages 24 hours a day.
Ginkgo trees give the boundary a continuous defining element. The Gingko tree is the most common avenue tree in Japan and has been increasingly planted in Austria over recent years. Its resilience, slim growth and intense autumn colour make it particularly valuable for landscaping.
Campus WU’s green boundary comprises various spatial situations. The relationship between the green boundary and the central Campus spaces is established in different layers, which are perceived in all their dimensions.
There is a broad filter of Ginkgo trees arranged in groups around the south side of the Campus. The cycle path encircles the Campus, accompanied by a pedestrian walkway that branches off and leads to the central area. Individual seating elements are arranged and grouped in ‘Families’ along the walkway within the immediate vicinity of the buildings. Isolated hedges act as spatial articulation elements.
The Campus Plazas
Making the Campus an inviting place to linger after classes or a day spent carrying out research was achieved through a strategy seeking to assign buildings with activities that interrelate with the surrounding plazas.
The Lounge Plaza in front of the Executive Academy is a space for play and leisure on the one hand and the framework for more representative activities at the University Graduate Studies building on the other. Its language seeks to create a strong impression on casual visitors to Campus WU.
The Relax Plaza is Campus WU’s “coastal” area with lots of sunlight and an elevated platform overlooking a reflecting pool of water in front of the Departments building. This urban balcony is suitable both for group meetings and for individuals to stroll under the trees in the plaza.
The Expo Plaza is a place of shadows and increased introspection in front of the Special Libraries allowing users to enjoy permanent exhibitions in the University’s display cabinets or to read on the long benches among the flowers.
The Stage Plaza is a place for contemplating the central building of the Library & Learning Center. It is the largest open space on the Campus with nearly 4,000 m2 defined by a border of grandstand steps that provide seating for mass events.
The Patio Plaza is integrated into the Teaching Center and through its many levels it connects the study areas on the upper level of the basement with the platforms and stairways leading to the Food Court, as well as with the cross-campus pedestrian walkway.
The Forum Plaza features broad wooden chaise longue style benches that allow people to relax, communicate and expand their minds after classes in the Teaching Center or after sporting activities in the Student Center (D2SC).
THE BUILDING AREAS
The document “Master Plan WU Vienna” describes in detail the buildable areas for the architectural competition. It establishes a series of requirements that define each area’s environmental characteristics, identity features and points of interface. The specifications with highest typological influence on the architectonic designs are the passageways and alleys that traverse the plots and provide connections with the Prater Park and between the different Campus areas.
Local features with special functions were suggested as points of orientation and gradually become more visible when crossing the Campus. The arrangement of public and communal facilities – such as cafeterias, shops and lounge areas – in the ground floor area of the buildings, oriented towards the respective plazas, are an essential prerequisite that ensures the appropriate functioning of the squares.
The WU allocated the individual departments to the different plots according to academic requirements. The special functions of the Executive Academy, Special Libraries, Administration, Library & Learning Center and Teaching Center as well as the Food Court and Student Center all characterise their respective plazas with their different patterns of use.
Campus WU’s configuration strengthens users’ sense of security due to the open and well-lit structures that encourages communication. Attractive open spaces invite people to linger and thereby animate the Campus area – a basic prerequisite for informal social control. Areas that might otherwise have given rise to fear have been avoided by clearly visible passageways and paths; at the same time all access points to the subterranean garage are illuminated by natural light. The aim, as previously mentioned, is to achieve a direct relationship between the Campus entrances and its public spaces.
The Campus is primarily a pedestrian zone. The entrance for vehicles and major suppliers is located at the eastern entrance. Waste collection is organised on a decentralised basis in basement refuse rooms and from there conveyed to the loading yard within the underground parking area. Aboveground refuse rooms, which can be easily reached by vehicles from the street, are provided for the Executive Academy and at the western side of Plot D3 AD (Administration).
The undergrounding parking area is accessed via entry points located in various plazas. Lightwells with glazed staircases enable the basement below to be naturally illuminated. Similarly, those arriving via the parking area are guided to the buildings via the same plazas. This contributes to security (there is no public lift access in the basement, except for supplies and wheelchair users) and generates an urban setting within the plazas that encourages people to make informal contact.
Once you have crossed the threshold, you can experience a special place!