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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
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 in Vienna, Austria by BUSarchitektur

December 11th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: BUSarchitektur


With its present roster of some 23,000 students, the Vienna University of Economics and Business is practically bursting at the seams, which does not make it easy to study, work or carry out research. That will change in 2013. There will be space for every student, every professor and every single faculty member. There will be space for communicating, for discussing, for exchanging ideas, for studying, for teaching, for researching, for discovering and relaxing.

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  • Architects: BUSarchitektur
  • Project: Campus WU
  • Location: Vienna, Austria
  • Start of the construction works: 2009
  • Project completion: 2013
  • Usable area: 100.000 m2
  • Total cost: 492.0 Mio €
  • PROJECT Management: ARGE PS WU Neubau, Drees&Sommer, DELTA
  • CONCOMITANT CONTROL: FCP – Fritsch, Chiari & Partner ZT GmbH
  • EXECUTIVE GLOBAL PROJECT: ARGE Campus WU, BUSarchitektur, Vasko + Partner Ingenieure
  • LOCAL CONSTRUCTION SUPERVISION: ARGE ÖBA Campus WU, InGenos.Gobiet.ZT GmbH, iC consulenten

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The new 91,000m2 location in-between the Vienna Fair and Prater Park provides more space plus the opportunity to set up a campus with multiple buildings. It is easily reachable via public transport and has direct access to the recreational area of the Prater Park. A great place is starting life in superb surroundings.

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The organizational concept of the Vienna University of Economics and Business places its focus on the departments. Each of these departments is to be characterised by a main entrance area capable of providing personal assistance. While there need to be contact zones for conferences and discussions, there should also be opportunities for retreating, especially for academic staff. An ideal research setting comes into being.

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The Library and Learning Center (LC) is to interlink referencing and reading facilities, thus facilitating all aspects of studying in all its functions. A university without books, without a traditional library, is inconceivable; at the same time a university without the latest technology cannot be state-of-the-art. Both of these meet and complement one another ideally in the LC, which stays open for students and employees 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Optimum working conditions are formed.

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Universities need lecture halls, not large ones, but rather small and medium-sized ones that make it possible to cultivate a good communication style. Break-out zones are also essential to enable small groups to work separately before rejoining the main gathering. An ideal place for studying is created.

The Aula represents the centre of communication that stimulates student life. The university, however, must also connect with its surroundings and with society. It is a social space where people meet, communicate, study, work and even relax. Attractions on site and outside routine university operations guarantee urban life on campus, thereby enabling an artistic and intellectual centre to evolve for political debate and cultural events – and at a reasonable price. A new interactivity space is forged.

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Campus WU is a special place for research and education with a unique atmosphere. This exceptionality must be reflected in the countenance of its architecture. The university complex seeks to become a landmark, radiating beyond the city limits. Its architecture should be conceived as a subject of collective fascination.

The new Campus further aims to suggest an alternative economic and ecological paradigm, while at the same time treating the subjects of gender mainstreaming and universal access with the utmost care.

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The Campus WU site lies hidden away between the Prater Park and the Vienna Fair, embedded in a city structure with sufficient open space to develop an urban campus concept. Not only shall the new WU function just like any other modern university, it will also shape the opportunities for an active educational landscape.

The Campus shall be an internally coherent oasis with pavilions in the university ‘Garden’ and with its edges featuring green open spaces. The interior life of this very special place must be explored and discovered. Contact points with the city form part of this university park concept: one of the entrances to the academic complex is via a sculpture garden near the Vienna Fair plaza; an entrance with terraced wooden platforms is located on Trabrennstraße; another features a topography comprising a flight of concrete steps, visible from Prater Park.

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The Campus is designed as a “Walk along Park” with different stations and interconnected squares from which the specific areas are accessible through green alleys. Progressing along this sequence of plazas, each educational path becomes a journey of adventure. One path takes you from the topographic modelled landscape near the Executive Academy between the individual departments to the Administration building and specialised libraries. Another progresses from the wooden folded terraces between the Teaching Center and the Students Center, past the departments and the Food Court to the plaza in front of the Library and Learning Centre.  ….and in between you can always catch a glimpse of the Vienna Prater.

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During the modern era, the campus concept, which dates back to the Greek Agora and the tradition of the campus university, has developed into a complex urban entity.

The campus system is composed of the following principles: balanced proportions, and equilibrium between separated buildings.

The character and diversity of each autonomous Campus piece are characterised by their own identity. The open space in between these parts is organised by platforms, parks, ponds and walkways.

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The Campus layout is open and integrates nature.

The individual buildings are connected through proximity and proportions.

The composition of these spaces and relationships is defined in the Plot Rulebook. Both the balanced distribution of cubature across the five plots and the equal allocation of movement flows are a basic principle of the Campus.

Within this educational landscape the different architects do not compete but complement each other.

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The special functions are external to the system and define the character of each building and its corresponding plazas.

The departments are variations in the system and confine the open space in a longitudinal direction.

The walkways are free and multi-optional at every point on the Campus.

The meandering structure proposed in the Master Plan invites pedestrians to stroll through and discover the Campus.

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The Master Plan can be thought of as defining an educational gallery in which the open spaces play the role of connecting the images. This strong context welcomes different types of architecture, a variety plaza designs as well as artistic endeavour, providing them all with a stage on which to shine. The result might eventually resemble the concept presented by Siegfried Giedion and Le Corbusier at CIAM 6 – that a campus is a space for the synthesis of the arts.

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The Master Plan is based on the expectation that the input of different architects will support the Campus WU model and will help realise sustainable solutions. In addition to examining the buildings’ physical and spatial aspects, other factors must also be harmonised, such as the function of their social spaces and their contributions to the creation of an overall Campus identity.

The different approaches of six architectural teams, as well as the various artistic design elements in the different plazas, should together create sustained added value for all parties involved in this process.

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