The load-bearing structure is what lends any building structural stability, creates its form and spaces,and enables the building to achieve its designed appearance and character. The structural design is thus a fundamental part of the general design process. The prerequisite for a suitable and logical structural design is a thorough understanding of possible types of structure, their load-bearing characteristics and their functional mechanisms.
At the Institute for Design in Existing Structures and Architectural Heritage Protection, we deal with the built environment in research and teaching and take care of existing structures. Looking both forwards and backwards, we regard existing structures as a reference space for future action and as a space of possibilities for practical design. Our attention not only applies to the masterpieces of building history in their respective architectural, historical and social context, but above all to the rather inconspicuous architecture of everyday life. We understand Architectural Heritage Protection beyond the preservation of material heritage as a proactive approach to today's structures - the monuments of tomorrow.
The akk represents three subjects that are closely linked: Architectural theory, art history and cultural studies. Architectural theory attempts to answer the question according to which aesthetic, social and political principles we should design architecture. Architectural Theory is therefore always oriented toward the future and to a certain extent normative. However, architectural theory itself has a history going back to antiquity, the central texts of which we also teach in our courses. In art history, architecture is treated as part of the history of art. It shows that architecture as “Baukunst” (the art of building) is, on the one hand, an artistic discipline and, on the other hand, has always been interrelated with the visual arts. Finally, cultural studies enable us to better understand architecture’s cultural techniques, media and forms of communication and its relation to everyday and popular culture. In doing so, we make the findings of gender studies, postcolonial studies and material culture studies fruitful for architecture.
The Institute of Urbanism is responsible for educating students in all areas of urban development and regional planning, both in the bachelor's and master's programmes. They learn about the composition principles needed to position, design and, if necessary, remove buildings from a building ensemble within a territorial system. The students experiment with territorial transformations that are based on systems that minimise the ecological footprint and consumption of non-renewable resources and promote new and more economical forms of land use. In addition, the institute encourages a discourse on growing inequality and social conflicts that result from a lack of integrative urban development, as well as practices to avoid these conflicts. The institute provides specialist knowledge about the relationship between private and public (open) space at regional and local level and works on innovative ecological and social interstitial spaces.
Building use changes – architecture remains. The study of building typology asks questions about the aspects of buildings that shape their use, morphology and spatial design. The history and evolution of these aspects provide precedents and analytical foundations both for designing new buildings and also for conversion, new use and subsequent use of existing buildings. The most ‘sustainable’ building typologies are without doubt those that have proven themselves over centuries. The Institute of Design and Building Typology is interested in the architectures that exhibit this kind of lasting success and in how they can be reinvented and developed in contemporary ways.
Structure, space and technology are the main themes that the IAT works on intensively. Design, which for us is at the centre of all architectural activities, forming its foundation and basis, also provides a guideline and challenge when capturing and analysing structure, space and technology as well as working through the architectural concept design in these areas, bringing it into focus and realising it to a high standard.
Designing and engineering cannot be separated. This is a fundamental element of our teaching as we facilitate courses that follow precise didactic concepts, with the goal of preparing students well for their professional practice. Our research topics are organised on four levels: macro, meso, micro and nano. For example, we research increasing urban density and related areas such as urban climatology, but we also study subjects such as new facade technologies and ventilation principles.
At the Institute of Spatial Design we are interested in architecture as a practice of designing and redesigning buildings. The work on a building is proof of one’s architectural thinking. The thought of construction defines the essence of architecture. A house is physical expression, structure, detail, material, history and theory. It is materialized interdisciplinarity. Building is the core task of our subject. Houses make up our built environment. Houses are cultural expression. They are Nebenmenschen.
The Institute of Architecture and Landscape (i a&l) is one of the pioneering academic settings that fundamentally redefines architecture’s relation to the living world. The invitation and inquiry of the i a&l is to forge novel alliances between human and more-than-human agencies with vast consequences. In doing so, it is to cultivate imaginaries or thought spaces,that engage entangled thinking and probe a possible planetary future where culture and nature are no longer a dialectic pair of opposites. By addressing processes and consequences of current ecological, energetic and societal challenges, the purpose is to develop ‘a cultural ecology’ of our future society. Applied and tested in teaching and research, we offer transdisciplinary collaboration with, national and international academic partners, policymakers, industries, activists, etc., to develop unique project constellations that elevate teaching, design, discourse and societal innovation.
In doing so, it is to cultivate imaginaries or thought spaces, that engage entangled thinking and probe a possible planetary future where culture and nature are no longer a dialectic pair of opposites with apparently irreconcilable conflicts of interest. By addressing processes and consequences of current ecological, energetic and societal challenges, the purpose is to develop what we call ‘a cultural ecology’ of our future society. The radical proposition of the i a&l, is to articulate the per-form-ative agencies of landscape in architecture, unfolding their ecology and socio-cultural dynamism through the leading concepts such as ‘city as biome’, ‘codesign & co-habitation’, ‘plant-performance’, ‘bio-climatic design’, ‘mid-door architecture’, amongst others.
Applied and tested in teaching and research we offer transdisciplinary collaboration with both, national and international academic partners, policymakers, industries, activists, etc., to develop unique project-constellations that elevate teaching, design, discourse and societal innovation.
The Institute of Contemporary Art promotes critical thinking and new forms of artistic and intellectual engagement at the intersections between art, science and society. Nurturing trans-disciplinary art-based research and generating investigatory and long-term projects is equally as important as our academic programmes. Our students are encouraged to reflect on conditions, media and instruments of contemporary art while engaging with the complexities of contemporary spatial politics and their relation to society at large.
In our teaching we encourage students to develop a cultural-historical perspective on the spatial composition of dwellings and residential buildings in their development from individual tools and functional elements: stove, table, bed, toilet… which over time developed into distinct rooms. Understanding this functional assignment of rooms and how they are codified differently in different sociological and geographical cultures is the foundation for a critical and comparative assessment of major residential buildings from Austrian and international traditions.
Architecture is energy. In addition to expressing the cultural values, priorities and aspirations of a society, architecture must provide answers to an existential societal challenge - the equitable sharing of available resources. Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of global CO2 emissions. At the Institute of Buildings and Energy, energy-efficient architecture is understood as a triad of minimized resource consumption, optimal indoor climate and high architectural quality. Sustainable development cannot go hand in hand with a loss in the quality of our built environment. Research focuses on maximizing the energy performance of buildings and cities and developing architectural and urban design projects that are inherently energy efficient by optimizing their form and construction. In teaching, the focus is on architectural strategies to maximize energy performance. In the design process, the parameter of energy influences the form finding and configuration of the design from the very beginning - form follows energy.
The Institute of Architecture and Media (IAM) is dedicated to the research and application of digital media in architecture and design. The digital era fundamentally changes all aspects of architecture: how we design it, how we communicate it, how we construct it, how we experience it. At IAM we see this as an opportunity to work towards an “Augmented Architecture”: to use the digital repertoire to find innovative ways to design, to collaborate, to fabricate and to visualize, mindful of societal challenges such as climate change or biodiversity collapse. Parametric and algorithmic methods, digital fabrication and material experiments, architectural geometry, animation and visualization, BIM, AI and machine learning as well as VR/AR and interactive installations are part of the broad and colorful spectrum of topics that IAM deals with and that students can learn about in our classes.
The Institute of Construction and Design Principles (KOEN) accompanies students through their first year in a large number of courses. The spectrum covers fundamentals of design, introductory and advanced design exercises, one-to-one workshops, basic knowledge of material-specific construction and group study excursions. Teaching activities not only integrate theory and practice but also incorporate artistic-intuitive approaches into the technical and structural principles of building engineering. We teach principles and skills of classical architectural work beginning with many hand sketches, which are collected throughout the year in a sketchbook, and continuing with technical drawing, model building and visual and verbal presentation techniques. The unifying aim of all these activities is to get to know the possibilities of conceptual thinking, the tools for describing spatial perception and strategies of research-led design in contemporary spatial contexts. Our model-building workshops constitute an important component of the bachelor degree, as a key element of describing and representing three-dimensional spaces. The institute has the main responsibility for the first two semesters of the bachelor’s programme and thus is located at the threshold between general knowledge and specialised architectural knowledge. This position is reflected in our work with exhibitions, publications and research.