C21 is a small, almost left-over space by the Atelierhaus, a building where creative freelancers and artists live and work. Despite the scale of the site, rajek barosch landscape architecture managed to design a complex but comfortable space that takes into account the surroundings, water management, the residents and biodiversity.
It is a densely planted small piece of urban wilderness, wedged in between a road, an entrance in the underground garage, air-ventilation infrastructure, the building and the train tracks. The jury appreciated how these site-specific conditions were allowed to co-exist with the design. Similar to Bridgefoot Street Park, the C21 garden well represents the future of compact cities where small spaces will need to take on such elaborate designs in order to improve the quality of living for all living beings.
Although this urban landscape is intended for a relatively slim layer of the local social strata, one can easily imagine such a design attitude can cater for the needs of more diverse profiles and age groups. The jury applauded the incredibly effective use of space and, above all, the open dialogue between the garden and the surroundings – contribution to the genius loci that well reflects living in the Anthropocene.- from the award statements
The studio building with its surroundings is located directly on the railway line and is a remnant of the large urban expansion Sonnwendviertel at the main station in Vienna. From this circumstance, both the building and the open space drew their potential and allowed themselves a great deal of freedom in the implementation, which was supported by the client. Seventy-eight studios nested within themselves offer space for working and living, primarily used by creative freelancers and artists, with communal areas and exhibition space on the ground floor.
The unconventional working and living concept allowed an almost completely open-ended design and worked with the understanding and patience of the users right from the start. The open space of the studio building is a potential area for the development of the spontaneous and the unforeseen and an experimental field for us landscape architects as well as for the residents. The brittle charm of the surrounding infrastructure landscape and the coming and going of the trains is an integral part of it.
The space is initially defined by the trees and shrubs that have been planted and the different substrates. Except for the entrance terrace and the work area with the delivery zone, all other areas remain loose, freely accessible and only vaguely defined. Boulders five to six meters long, picked directly from the quarry, interlock with the necessary terrain modeling above the underground car park and span small spatial sequences. In the west of the house, the open space leads over a few steps around a clay eye that is subject to alternating moisture, into which the soil is seeped. Starting with a few initial plants, the vegetation, which continues to sow, starts its growth from the different substrates and develops and changes visibly. Paths emerge gradually from use and appropriation. New species emerge and become established, while other short-lived ones disappear. Likewise, people from the neighborhood, they use the seating blocks and the barbecue area, which was created from core drillings in the wall openings and from found objects.
The substrates differ in their composition in grain size, humus content, construction height and installation method. We assume that this measure alone will result in a different vegetation picture in the long term and a variety of plants will develop in a small habitat in the urban landscape. The care remains subordinate and only minimally intervenes. Already the second year brought a multitude of insects. Nutrient shrubs and a bird bath in the form of a hollow in the stone block also contribute to this.
The process remains open. Depending on the mood, vegetation and fauna together with the interactions of the users shape the garden space to total wilderness. Every participant is entitled and there is a possible coexistence of the near-natural space with its urban environment. It is precisely from this contrast that the garden of the studio building draws its attraction.
Name of the project: Atelierhaus C21
Architecture offices involved in the design: werner neuwirth, AT-Wien
Location: Maria-Lassnig-Straße 33, 1100 Wien, Austria
Design year: 2017 – 2021
Year Completed: 2021