One of our research targets was to develop a modular or prefab construction as an approach, amongst others, to provide affordable housing while also taking into account state-of-the-art developments in the construction business.
Modular construction has made huge progress recently, especially in the hybrid timber high-rise building sector, partly due to research with one to one pilot projects as well as realisation projects such as HoHo in Vienna, Aspern.
Certainly, the context and its local circumstances and possibilities, especially in connection with the use of existing infrastructure such as shopping centres and millstreams, as in the case of the two selected plots on Fabriksgasse and Exerzierplatzstrasse, possess enormous potential that had a major impact on the investigation into the modular and prefab construction developed in the course of this research project.
In that approach however, it is essential to distinguish between the development of a specific module or element emerging from a technically controlled solution and a design process that –by means of abstraction and reduction of spatial elements – uses designed modules in order to develop a distinct building from them.
As regards the One Room Planning System, combining positive aspects of a structural design process with an awareness of context and scale in accordance with contemporary architecture is key.
This design approach requires deconstructing the hierarchies that define current housing development. Decisions on the size and location of spaces within dwellings are based on functional criteria and cultural standards. That, in turn, means that dwellings often lack flexibility and can thus only be utilised according to a certain standard.
Inspired largely by the research project’s location, i.e. a highly changing peri-urban environment, the development of a flexible structure simultaneously supports the project’s long-term sustainability.
The basic principle of the proposed system is that flexible use of spaces can be achieved by creating a constellation of equivalent spaces. That means, as opposed to the majority of modern and contemporary housing based on a strong, spatial and functional hierarchy, this system will enable the utilisation of spaces for different functions.
Prerequisite for flexible use is to ascertain the right size for the space and to design the ceiling height as generously as possible. To that end, several alternatives were analysed and evaluated during the research project.
The chosen system is based on a planning grid of 1.35 metres, which is often used for office buildings. The grid is designed in such a way that it works just as well for single and double offices as it would for underground garages, and it can be applied sensibly as a structural grid.
The planning modules are square in order to maintain combinability in all directions as well as to respond flexibly to various different plots and building geometries.
In a test, the three-fold planning grid measuring 4.05 x 4.05 was tried out. The space was therefore somewhat larger than a conventional master bedroom, i.e. big enough for a kitchen and for a living room when combined with a further module. Those dimensions would also correspond to the size of a normal office.
Since the selected ceiling height is slightly higher than currently provided for in conventional residential dwellings, the module can be used for housing and commercial purposes as stipulated in current building regulations. Moreover, high rooms offer additional spatial quality and enhanced room lighting.
– Definition, module:
– Technically: modular construction and/or prefab construction
– Design-related: architectonic unit (spatial module)
– Why 4.05 x 4.05?
– Planning grid
– 1.35m office
– 3 x 1.35m = 4.05m residential
– 2 x 4.05m = 8.10 construction grid
– Spatial module 4.05 x 4.05 x 3m
– Ceiling height 3m
– Neutral use of spaces
– Old city apartments
– High degree of prefabrication
– Prefab construction = efficient transportation
– Compact basic structure
– Favourable construction grid = no large spans
– Existing basic structure
– Non-hierarchical spaces
– Adaptable spaces
– Wide range of uses and flexibility of use
– Mixed use
– Flexible dwelling configuration
– Test dwellings
– Various dwelling types
– 2 x 2 modules = 2-roomed dwelling
– 3 x 2 modules = 3 – 4-roomed dwelling
– 1 x 4 x 3 modules = townhouses with 3 floors
– Test mixed use = constellation of various dwelling types and other functions tested in two contexts and five designs.
As part of this research project, many different system variants were evaluated and laster tested on, and adapted to, the chosen plots. The modules were analysed with regard to their structural qualities in collaboration with our project partners.