While prefabricated, modular and standardised architectures are usually planned independently from their later environment, the Intensified Density research project intends to focus on the architectural design process itself and test its initial phase in comparison to several concrete plots of land.
In doing so, it is hoped to initiate hands-on research in the field of architecture which, on the one hand, strives to link the disciplines with the conceptual level more closely, while also making the architectural planning process accessible to research on the other. Architectural projects evolve within an interdisciplinary networked process consisting of a multitude of different and varied influencing factors. Problems arising in planning processes exist within a broad range of spatial, functional and design-related aspects that need to be brought in line with prevailing societal, political, economic and scientific frame conditions, in order to activate and develop their potential further.
Essentially, our objective is to seek realisable approaches within a concrete plan by applying architectural methods of design and analysis in collaboration with an interdisciplinary and international research team along with external experts, as well as to incorporate the project in teaching.
“The Intensified Density project aims to identify possibilities to activate derelict land and to inspire visions for contextually incorporated, trendsetting, higher-density and small-scale dwelling forms.”
The first plot we selected according to our research criteria (available infrastructure, etc.) is one of a number of derelict plots that were discovered on walks around the fringe areas of Graz. It is located in the District of Gries directly next to the ramp of the centrally located Citypark shopping centre on Lazarettgürtel ring road. It is an oblong plot that is accessed via a driveway through the rear courtyard of a gründerzeit perimeter block development on Fabriksgasse. At the moment, it is used as a parking space, mainly by the neighbouring bakery. On its western boundary, a fence alongside the access road via Fabriksgasse separates the plot from the grounds of Citypark shopping centre.
ausgewähltes Grundstück Citypark Fabriksgasse
versiegelte Fläche | building area classified as KG+WA core area + general residential | building density 0,8 – 2,0 | size of plot 4393 m² + 758 m² | plot no. 1398/2, 1411 | cadastral community no. 63105 | folio no. 1096, 727 | District of Gries | plot paved with asphalt and rubble | protection zone, no, area for regeneration, noise | plot prices 150-270 €/m² and residential rents 8,00-10,80 €/m²
From an urbanistic point of view, the plot is situated at the interface between historically developed village structures (Karlauerplatz), where in the 19th century commercial and industrial businesses first settled along the Mühlgang mill stream, a residential area consisting mainly of detached houses and tower blocks (dormitory town) as well as modern commercial buildings and a shopping centre chiefly designed for vehicle traffic (car-friendly city). The area is connected to public transport facilities (bus) and to the inner city of Graz. In terms of urban planning, the principle of the functional city through functional separation of dwelling and working quarters has been implemented on a small scale (Athens Charter 1933, German translation 1962).
Low village-like commercial and residential buildings are confronted with an urban density of tower blocks (vertical city) and an over-dimensioned conglomerate of shopping centre structures.
Based upon the Learning from Las Vegas study (1968) by Venturi/Scott Brown/Izenour, we investigate the question of what one can learn from a seemingly unplanned place in a peri-urban context. Despite the fact that the shopping centre with its multi-storey carpark and the neighbouring petrol station are obviously oriented towards (transregional) vehicle traffic, the whole area was explored on foot. As a first step, therefore, details that did not seem important at first sight were photographed in the course of our field research and freely categorised according to Venturi/Scott Brown/Izenour.
Hilpert, Thilo (Hg.) (1988): Le Corbusiers “Charta von Athen” Texte und Dokumente. Kritische Neuausgabe. Bauwelt Fundamente 56. 2. Aufl. Viewg & Sohn. Braunschweig / Wiesbaden.
Izenour, S., Venturi, R. Scott Brown, D. (2001). Lernen von Las Vegas : Zur Ikonographie und Architektursymbolik der Geschäftsstadt (2. Aufl., 1., unveränd. Nachdr. ed.). Basel [u.a.]: Birkhäuser.