02/2018, 1st Prize
Gross Floor Area
Rentable Floor Space
Partner in Charge
Christian Aulinger, Mark Gilbert
Competition: Matthias Brandmaier, Ricardo Oliveira
Realisation: Tana Kubikova (Project Leader), Dietmar Hahn,
Ruxandra Balanica, Manuel Pawelka
Eisenhof Gemeinnützige Wohnungsgesellschaft m.b.H.
DnD Landschaftsplanung ZT
© Daniel Hawelka
Expressiv – Elmir Smajic e.U., Wien
There is an exceptional place in Essling, on the north-east edge of Vienna. Since 1987, children from nearby schools, together with youngsters from Jewish schools in Vienna, have been continually planting a tree for each one of the city’s 65.000 Jewish victims of the Nazi Regime. In this way, the Aspern Memorial Forest has slowly grown into being.
This extraordinary woodland forms the eastern terminus of Seestadt Aspern, Vienna’s largest new town urban development, and the northern border of the Esslinger Garten City.
Here, where noteworthy examples of Vienna’s 20th and 21st century urban planning intersect with dense forest green, the city organized a competition for social housing. The project brief, published in December 2017, sought innovative ideas for low-cost housing; ones which would also befit the spirit of this special place. In April 2018, “Am Waldrand” (“on Forest’s Edge”), trans_city’s project for the site, was awarded first prize.
The site plan of the family-friendly housing estate mediates between city and woodland, creating a contextually sensitive addition to the existing garden city, while providing the inhabitants of its 151 apartments with an intimate connection to the adjacent woodland.
The estate consists of three separate buildings. Each building has been given a stepped profile. In the south, the four-story heights of the facades are tailored to fit with the existing city fabric. The rooflines successively descend to two stories in the north, where the forest lies. This creates a fitting and attractive transition from the built-up streetscape to the lush greenery of the woodland and nestles the project comfortably in its exceptional situation.
The accurately set angles of the building masses generate three well-proportioned outdoor spaces, each with its own distinctive qualities. In the southest corner, high facades tightly frame a paved, setback space that connects to and engages with the Garden City’s grid of streets. This urban square serves as a forecourt, generously expanding public space while providing a place of address for the entry halls of the estate’s three buildings. The lower walls to the north enclose two green, lushly planted courtyards. These garden squares form the generous and green heart of the residential complex, while making connection between the forecourt and the forest in the north.
The architectural language is modest, laconic, and assured. Corner windows and cantilevered balconies lend sculptural complexity to the project’s otherwise rather simple lines. The stucco surfaces of the estate’s crisp forms are rendered in a soft blue tone; the warm white of the flared window jambs provide a harmonious contrast that accentuates the buildings’ proportions. The subtle metallic glaze of the wooden balustrades transfuses the ensemble with luminosity and atmosphere.
The stated goal of the competition was to foster ideas for low cost housing; the mission challenge was to develop an architecturally and ecologically significant design for this exceptional site, which could also be built affordably.
Our solution used an exquisitely simple yet architecturally potent structural system: the longitudinally aligned carrying walls in the upper stories are set precisely upon the columns of the underground car park. The structural axes of the car park are then laid-out to optimize the floor-spans and thereby material expenditure for the decks. Cross-walls are eliminated and the carrying walls of the double-loaded structure lie in the middle of the units, so that the corridor- as well as party-walls can be built of drywall. This system of construction is precise, rapid, and economical; it also provides short- as well as long-term constructive flexibility – important for future remodeling and reuse.
Generous atriums enliven the vertical circulation, and work together with numerous skylights and lightwells to fill both the central corridors as well as the stairwells with natural light.
The structural system shapes the double-loaded floorplans and the proportions of the apartment units. Living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens are airy, well-lighted and offer attractive views towards the gardens and forest.