Vienna Colonies: Featherplex
An Allegory to Traditional Viennese Catacomb Architecture
Building Type: Housing
Location: Vienna, Austria
Class: AR 562; University of Michigan
Partner: Tim Dudas
Professor: Matias Del Campo
Date: Spring 2014

Program Requirements:
  1. Viennese Coffee House
  2. Parking
  3. Storage
  4. Bar/ Restaurant
  5. 20 Unit Housing
    1. 2 Bedrooms
    2. 2 Bathrooms
    3. Living Room
    4. Kitchen
    5. Storage
    6. Dining Room

Hypothetical Situation. Vienna, Austria is a city caught between the future and the past and features many historically significant buildings, but also hold a vast amount of modern buildings. How would a designer attempt to be regionally specific without becoming a parody of the culture?

Create a sense of place, provide a custom tailored space to shelter 20 households and explore the techtonics of structure in order to create a place unique to the user and the client. Explore component aggregation through advanced modeling software to create place.

Work collaboratively with studio partners. Investigate site in Vienna, question typical structural systems, investigate phenomenological effects, research concept, diagram site according to concept, generate program, order spatial sequence of program to concept, generate form. Aggregate form. Resolve.

Feather facade as performative ornament and culturally significant.

Project Intention:
Vernacular architecture arguably peaked in the 1980’s postmodern movement, but this project attempts to question the role of regional specicity in contemporary architecture and seeks to re-imagine the formal and spatial possibilities of vernacularism. Through the use of advanced parametric modeling systems, the spatial and physical qualities of regionally specic forms are tested and explored in an attempt to colonize the present. The idea of component aggregation is explored as a way to redene the role of complexity in architecture and to explore the metaphysical qualities of “splines”, “swellings”, and “plumage” in situ.

Programmatically, the project takes the form of a 20 unit housing complex with integrated mixed-use program on the first floor in order to tie into the local vernacular. Each unit is organized around a central core and features loft-style living with large oor to ceiling windows, magnicent views to the adjacent cathedral, double-height spaces and either two or three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The central atrium allows fresh air to pass from the exterior skin of the building to the interior to cool in the summer, and allows light into the back of each unit. Each unit is provided two parking spaces in the mechanically controlled parking garage with integrated vespa parking. The ground oor features two retail units, and a legendary Viennese cafe with views to the adjacent cathedral. Structurally, the units are supported through typical concrete construction resting on load-bearing interior partition walls. The plumbing walls for the bathrooms and kitchens are centralized in 5 key locations in order to maximize plumbing eciency and minimize heat loss and freezing.

A secondary structure is erected on the edge of the floorplates to support the exterior facade construction. The feathers would be constructed from silicone around an interior armature and would be cnc milled locally. The feathers would then be “shingled” into place in order to create the effect of “plumage”. The ceilings of each unit are custom fabricated and transition gracefully to the oors creating visual interest and represent a value-added approach that would be attractive for potential renters and buyers. The iconic facade also creates a novel landmark and would re-activate the surrounding areas and businesses upon construction. The building skin subtly nods at traditional Viennese suits-of-armor and borrows from the language of the catacombs in the adjacent cathedral in order to tie in to the local vernacular. Although this process fell out of popularity after the post-modern period, it proves to be ripe grounds for re-exploration.