Photo Joanna Pianka

Exquisite Corpse 


BArch 6 Studio : Geography Landscapes Cities


Stefan Gruber | Lisa Schmidt-Colinet

Scenarios for the WU’s Future

This summer semester’s studio in Geography, Landscape and Cities will continue working with the WU (Vienna’s University of Economics) as part of the school’s research project BIG! BAD? MODERN: While the new campus in the Prater is scheduled to be completed in 2014, the future of the current building is still uncertain. The ÖBB and the BIG (the site’s and building’s respective owners) are currently assessing the situation and developing possible scenarios based on an intricate set of legal, financial and tenants’ interests. Meanwhile, the municipality and the general public seem inclined to demolish the whole complex including the Franz-Joseph Station and make way for a new and lively quarter, with housing, offices and lush public green. Such radical approach might indeed eliminate many problems that the site presents. Yet, would such measure also be the most adequate economic and ecological response? And wouldn’t such tabula rasa approach precisely reaffirm the mindset that produced this current condition in the first place? The other obvious approach would be to preserve the status quo and make do with minimal repair.

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Exquisite Corpse 


BArch 6 Studio : Geography Landscapes Cities


Stefan Gruber | Lisa Schmidt-Colinet

Both of these extremes seem to lack imagination and vision for what type of city and urban life could emerge here, based on the specificity of the site and its history? This studio will thus investigate alternative scenarios beyond these two extremes. It will attempt to critically assess which building substance should be kept and renovated and propose strategic removal and/or additions. Taking the existing condition as a stepping stone it will try to develop alternative visions of urbanity for Vienna. These visions will arise from a close reading of the site and its history combined with five given user scenarios. Each scenario will revolve around introducing one main program in lieu of the WU – programs that in combination with the existing megastructure hold the potential to trigger a different type of neighbourhood and put forward a more general idea on urbanism. Such program scenarios range from a public park to an inner-city Ikea and from a mixed used neighborhood to a private public research campus or raises the issue of possible temporary use.

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Exquisite Corpse 


BArch 6 Studio : Geography Landscapes Cities


Stefan Gruber | Lisa Schmidt-Colinet

The studio will essentially work with models at two scales. At a scale of 1:1000 we will develop strategies for the entire complex defining accessibility, programming, massing and building typologies, as well as outdoor spaces. At a scale of 1:200 we will work on individual portions – slices through the complex – in order to test the spatial and material implications of the overall strategy. Each fragment will follow a different approach. Together they will form an exquisite corpse of potential future scenarios for a university campus as a city quarter.
The aim of the studio is to engage in the current debate on the future of the site. Hereby it seems more important to open up the discussion and expand the range of possibilities being considered, rather than focusing on singular solutions: thus the Exquisite Corpse for the WU’s future.