Of Cycles and Streams

Graz (AT) - Runner-up


Team Representative: Eva Mair (IT) – architect; Associates: Johannes Paar (AT) - architect
Contributor: Sophia Garner (AT), Giorgi Kharitonashvili (GE) – architecture students; Elisabeth Weber (AT) – architect

Mair-Paar, Office for Architecture
Gaussplatz 4, 1200 Wien (AT)
+4369918288675 - office@mair-paar.eu – mair-paar.eu

See the complete listing of portraits here
See the site page here

G. Kharitonashvili, E. Mair, J. Paar & S. Garner

VIDEO (by the team)


1. How did you form the team for the competition?

We (Eva and Johannes) have been working together on our own projects since 2019. Before, we were researching and teaching together as assistant professors at the Research Unit Architectural Typology and Design at the Institute of Architecture at TU Wien, Austria. For the Europan 15 competition, we first asked Sophia Garner to team up with us – we had been working with her as our student on two different design courses and later as a tutor at the Research Unit. A little later, Giorgi Kharitonashvili also joined our working team. In the final submission stage, we also got help from Elisabeth Weber. We were quite content that the individual skills of the team members complemented each other very well. 


2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: the place of productive activities within the city?

Our goal was to work with the existing buildings and resources on the site in such a way that a lot of structure and material would be kept or reused. We checked the construction of the hall, decided to strip off all covering materials and keep and show the primary structure. This transformation of the existing becomes visible and defines the character of the project. The existing situation gets inverted: The former dimly lit interior space of the hall is transformed into a semi-exterior, bright public space – architecturally clearly defined, connected with its surroundings. With this new place for production, interaction and invention within the city, we see a high potential to create a fostering urban production hub for Graz and realize the goals of the Europan theme.


3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?

When looking at the larger strategic site, we found a lot of interesting situations that reflect unplanned appropriation, serve functional routines, but also reveal residues of remaining nature. Many of the areas with nothing directly built on, however, have become spaces for manipulation, temporary storage, or parking. In a way clear, because production needs a lot of horizontal space, but as a direct result, the entire strategic site lacks good public space. So we decided to challenge and invert these non-qualities. To create attractive space for the public, but use what is already there. In this sense, we do not propose any new building volumes for the whole strategic site. Instead, we focus on some punctual interventions and small demolitions along the millstream, that would connect the formerly detached housing district with the river Mur and create public space, which is currently non-existent. These interventions should happen wherever we discovered hidden qualities that could become very attractive spaces, that could shape and characterize this part of the city in future – and could be examples for urban upgrades along the millstream in the whole city.


4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?

In the context of Europan 15 “the productive city 2”, we dealt for the first time intensively with the spatial requirements of sustainable production cycles in the city and with architectural typologies that were suitable for the demanded use. However, we already knew the city of Graz well, having both studied at TU Graz. Dealing with an existing building stock, its conversion and spatial transformation – as was required at the chosen location – is a topic that we are very familiar with and which continuously runs through our work. Important books for the thematic approach were, among others, “Space of production: projects and essays on rationality, atmosphere, and expression in the industrial building” (edited by Jeannette Kuo), “Vertical urban factory” (edited by Nina Rappaport), “ Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Architecture as Resource ”(edited by Muck Petzet) and also the publication from the last Europan competition, where the topic has already been dealt with. There were also reference projects for specific aspects of our typology. The SESC Pompéia by Lina Bo Bardi, for example, was an important role model for the multi-purpose hall.


5. Urban-architectural projects like the ones in Europan can only be implemented together with the actors through a negotiated process and in time. How did you consider this issue in your project?

The typology of the building – a flat base plus towers – allows for production units in all scales. Large to huge units fit in the flat base. Medium and small units fit in the towers. So there are spaces for everyone, from small startups growing step by step, up to large producers. The typology is characterized by fixed and variable elements. The central courtyard and the ring layer, which surrounds this space as a mediating zone, are to be read as fixed settlements. The proposed dimensioning of the building is to be read as a proposal – both the expansion of the flat, two-story building and the size of the three towers can be adjusted in discussions with users and the investor. The project also envisages various construction phases, which make it possible for current users to keep working on site and new users to settle there without major interruption.

6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?

It is the first time that we participated and that we have been awarded. We hope that we can establish interesting discussions and generate further collaborations and projects out of the ideas that we worked out in the competition. The platform for sure helps to create some attention for our work. The final goal would be to get interesting commissions.



Office: Mair-Paar
Functions: Architecture
Average age of the associates: 35 years old

Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? If yes, which ones?

See projects on our web page: https://mair-paar.eu