Team Representative: Maximilian Klammer (AT) – Architect; Associates: Silvester Kreil (AT), Christopher Gruber (AT), Simon Hirtz (AT), Jakob Jakubowski (AT) – Students in Architecture
Contributor: Stepan Nesterenko (AT) – Student in Architecture
M. Klammer, S. Kreil, C. Gruber, S. Hirtz, J. Jakubowski & S. Nesterenko
1. How did you form the team for the competition?
We are a group of friends who have all studied together at some point. Our team formed naturally, knowing that we assemble a variety of different specializations and interests in art, architecture and design.
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 main interest lies in the continuity of things. In our proposal, we incorporate a transition from a functional mix to an urban emptiness, from dense city to wilderness. This architecturally driven shift and its resulting spatial configurations are considered to create our third space - a continuous public landscape functioning as the resilient component of our new city-quarter and our narrative for the desired future of Villach’s Westbahnhof area. It is a generative development, where we as architects think about adaptability and possible transformations already in the earliest stages of the design phase. These ideas are enhanced by the creation of a catalogue of new typologies of structural and architectural elements with the potential to be developed, modified and re-conceptualised over time. As mentioned above, we mainly emphasize the production of space itself (step by step as a collective process): productivity happens, when spaces are being created and approached together; the constant negotiation of the possible utilization of those spaces, triggers the necessary social exchange of a neighbourhood, of a community. In terms of actual spatial design, this means, that we dissolved the separation of production-, public- and living space wherever possible - in our proposal those spaces with its different activities are intentionally superimposed. Our formal decisions are not based on aesthetics, but rather on the very basis of our professional, maybe even political understanding of architecture: creating ideas of social interaction through designed spatial relations
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
For the construction of the new spaces, we propose a development that emerges out of the found characteristics of the specific sites - for example the linear layout of the old freight railway station - and combine historical, social, political and environmental topics. This also means to keep many of the existing elements (wilderness, railways embankments etc) and to incorporate existing institutions of the neighbourhood (schools, parks etc.) into the greater development-plan. With regard to the very high volume of individual car traffic in Villach and a related future traffic concept, however, we have taken radical approaches. Individual car traffic in the new neighbourhood will be severely restricted in our concept and completely banned after a phase of adaptation - new ways of soft-mobility are introduced instead.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
In our architectural studies, the production of communities and how to deal with leftover spaces in the future development of cities are recurring topics, that, we believe, are from highest importance today. However, that was the first project with both issues combined. We are still questioning how do we want to live? And are trying to critically re-read building codes and regulations in relation to property, social agendas and environmental circumstances. We were inspired by projects such as HDM’s Miami Parking Garage, the Fiat factory in Torino or Mvrdv’s ‘Berlin Voids’, but also Reyner Banham’s ‘Concrete Atlantis’.
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?
Our project critically questions the contemporary approach of city/quarter development that we see as a compressed and mainly investor driven/governed process. We believe that a neighbourhood developed step by step (Zug um Zug), with a real involvement of the general population and the public sector, would evade many well-known mistakes and lead to a more naturally grown habitat. Hereby we want to express, that we see more prosperity in transformational processes than a finished architectural project out of a catalogue - with a long-term perspective, such a process could become even more affordable. The Europan competition, like most other competitions, asks for big transformations. The frame for the realisation of more daring ideas though, is quite narrow and maybe still thought too conventional and investor centred.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
Yes, Europan 15 was actually the first competition we have done as a team! Therefore, it is also the first special mention for us. We are still students and don’t have an office or something permanent at the moment (probably soon to come) - we all agree that Europan 15 was definitely a very helpful experience and very encouraging to take part in future competitions..
Average age of the associates: 26,3 years old
Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? If yes, which ones?
So far we have done one project as a team - a spatial intervention/installation for the 325 years festivities at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. In our individual careers we have worked on a broad range of different projects (also art projects) and participated in architectural competitions for schools, museums, residential etc.