Whether it’s students who (have to) get ready for lectures on the stairs outside, colleagues using outdated equipment, or research assignments that can’t be accepted due to a lack of space – there’s simply no place for any of this in a modern environment. Of course, these are all problems that a university could handle with a conventional renovation project.
Both the original 'TU Univercity 2015' initiative and 'TU UniverCity', as it’s now known, are so much more than a simple renovation project. In fact, the process of renovating and adapting various aspects of TU Wien has revealed a comprehensive range of new qualities, extending far beyond mere technical parameters and profitability analyses. The fundamental premise of the project is to establish ideal conditions for those studying and working at TU Wien. For this reason, particular emphasis was placed on aspects such as occupational health and safety, accessibility, art, culture and corporate identity.
Exclusive Vienna-based location
Discussions on the ideal location for TU Wien were sparked after Austrian universities were granted autonomy in 2004 on the back of the 2002 Universities Act (UG2002). Was it better to try and tackle all of the necessary renovation work at once and relocate the individual faculties, or create a brand-new university from scratch at a new site? The Aspern airfield on the outskirts of Vienna was considered as a potential alternative site; however, after going over the various options at length with TU members, the decision was made to remain in the existing buildings on the present sites. After all, its current location does have undeniable advantages: TU Wien finds itself at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a central main building on Karlsplatz. With its world-renowned institutes of art and culture, such as the Musikverein concert hall, Vienna museum, Künstlerhaus art exhibition building, Karlskirche church and Secession building, Karlsplatz square has the greatest concentration of cultural assets in the world. How many other universities are there that can offer that kind of USP?
Equal distribution of 300,000 m²
The overall set-up of TU Wien had to be entirely redesigned, with the TU faculties and even a number of institutes split up across various sites. In many cases, the original spatial requirements were a far cry from the needs of a modern establishment. But the greatest problem was not the lack of space or the need to renovate, but rather the unequal distribution of space.
This resulted in a thorough analysis of the existing space at TU Wien. How much space is available and for how many people? What are the spaces suitable for? What kind of research and teaching activities are they intended to host?
A key figure model was developed, which highlighted how much space is needed by the individual research groups and disciplines. The status and requirements were not only analysed in the case of buildings, but these figures also had to be broken down into individual employee levels for faculties, institutes and research fields. This approach might seem unusual for a university, but it is absolutely essential for a technical university with this level of expertise.
My uni? Your uni? Our uni!
The key figure model wasn’t just necessary for planning the redesign; it will also prove to be an essential underlying asset to TU Wien going forward. Every faculty knows how much space it has, as the figures surrounding room statuses and requirements are clearly laid out to allow them to set priorities and allocate resources. Objective requirements analyses are drawn up in place of having rights acquired through adverse possession, promoting more fairness and essential synergies. By uniting teams that logically go together under a single proverbial roof, a whole host of resources can then be shared. The money that this saves can then be invested in research and teaching.
One faculty – one home
Every faculty was united in a single location together with an additional site near the city centre for large-scale testing facilities and laboratories, known as the Science Center at the Arsenal military complex. The underlying principle of 'one faculty – one home' was gradually brought to life, step by step. The Faculty of Technical Chemistry had already been moved to Getreidemarkt, where the Mechanical Engineering department had also set up its office, library and seminar spaces. Similarly, large-scale and specialist laboratories are said to be planned for the Science Center site, with the remaining faculties each concentrated at a single location. For colleagues, this does, of course, mean a whole lot of relocation, disruption and even temporary diversions during a renovation project; however, the prospect of a return to a modern environment that is ideally suited to current requirements more than makes up for it.
The TU of the future
This project, which unites the faculties and institutes at the inner-city site, comes under the working title of 'The TU of the future'.
The completion of the tower block (Energy-plus office tower) at the Getreidemarkt campus and the subsequent arrival of the Faculty of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering meant that the first steps could then be put in motion for the other buildings. The next steps will be possible once the buildings have been included as part of the Science Center.
The subprojects are closely interrelated, and all main TU sites are involved on a mutual level. As a result, this means that TU Wien can close down its satellite sites.
With a complex, long-term project such as this, it goes without saying that those involved in and affected by the work need to be kept up to date. When building work commenced on the Lehartrakt building (back in 2007), the project management team set up the 'ProjekInfoBüro'. This official information centre is targeted primarily at the members of TU Wien, and its main objectives are to provide information throughout the building activities and act as a central coordination office for project managers. From an outside perspective, the office represents a point of contact and information.
Main Features of the Project
Over 200 years of research and teaching have made their mark on the buildings at TU Wien. Many of these have already had to be renovated and upgraded to live up to the requirements of the university’s relatively recent independent status.
24 locations spread right across Vienna are being brought together in a single, city-centre campus. Flexible spatial designs, efficient management of space, modern building technology and state-of-the-art building management all combine to facilitate an all-new research infrastructure. The eight faculties, located in the four building complexes of Karlsplatz, Freihaus, Getreidemarkt and Gußhausstraße/Favoritenstraße, constitute a focused knowledge landmark in direct correlation to a burgeoning cultural hub. The Institute of Atomic and Subatomic Physics is remaining at its present location in the Prater area.
Moving further afield from the city campus, a second TU site is being developed in the form of the Science Center for large-scale and specialist laboratories. This is where spin-offs and competence centres find the necessary infrastructure to carry out research assignments that are close to the heart of TU Wien in terms of their physical proximity and content, allowing them to work in close cooperation with companies.
A number of top-class committees and working groups are in place for colleagues to develop and discuss key issues and solutions in relation to the new structural design of TU Wien. The aims of this process were to develop overarching project qualities and prepare detailed planning requirements so that it was possible to ensure a fair and well-balanced delivery of the 'TU UniverCity' project right through to the very last stage.
- Participative and communicative
An extensive information, participation and development process both inside and out
- Open and accessible
In terms of overall accessibility and use of the TU facilities
Designed to last, flexible, user oriented and environmentally conscious
Coordinated, well-balanced, open, communicative, networked and forward-thinking
In terms of content, time and money
Consistent and comprehensive implementation of branding and mission statements on a characteristic, innovative and realistic level
Aims of the project
- Consistent TU standard – fairness
- Consistent quality of spaces and equipment
- Enhanced cohesion throughout the areas (campuses)
- Physical space to raise the profile of TU Wien
- Greater communication activities across the TU
- Consideration of real-life situations and preservation of authenticity
Objectives of the building measures
- Physical merger of the faculties and institutes
- Timescale: step-by-step implementation based on the level of urgency whilst maintaining ongoing functionality
- Necessary technical standards achieved whilst safeguarding the overall infrastructure
- Identification of potential reserve and expansion areas
Basic principles of area management
- Fairness – needs-based allocation
- Assessment of 'evolved' structures
- Long-term focus
- Appropriate flexibility in terms of the use of space
- Careful consideration of development plans
- Consistent approach to determining spatial requirements
- Foundations for future management of space
- Central lecture theatres and seminar rooms
- Key figures for all room types at TU Wien