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.
The Institute of Design in Consisting Structure and Architectural Heritage Protection addresses the fundamentals of the history of art, architecture, cities and design. Lectures focus on the role and tasks of architects from the mid-18th century to the present day. In our practical exercises we develop the skills of seeing, describing and understanding historic architecture. In the master's degree programme the institute is responsible for the mandatory course on urban research and a variety of elective courses in the documentation of cultural heritage, building research, damage analysis and conservation of monuments. The institute’s research focuses on the fields of regional building traditions, development in contracting and peripheral regions, and several topics from Central and South-Eastern Europe.
The Institute of Architectural Theory, Art History and Cultural Studies is an inter- and transdisciplinary centre that works on theoretical and historical questions in architecture from a variety of perspectives in a broad artistic and cultural context. Many of the research projects and courses at the institute work across disciplines and methods, meaning that the institute's three subject areas with their respective knowledge cultures are tightly interlinked.
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.
The main focus of teaching and research at the Institute of Spatial Design is the study of architectural causes and effects in space, as well as the perception of space, light and material. In this context we understand space as intensity, as an immanent quantity that surrounds us, affects how we feel and challenges us to question the usual and the habitual. Design projects, light studies and the production of furniture prototypes are supervised in the institute’s workshops in the light of current research. The step from the drawing to realisation, from the idea to architecture, is an experience in real dimensions that is tested in a variety of model scales up to and including 1:1.
The Institute of Architecture and Landscape studies the future processes and consequences of the real ecological, energetic and societal transformation of our environment. Besides the challenges that have to be faced, this future scenario also contains the unique potential to creatively open up the corresponding action space in order to develop a new and cultural ecology. This ‘ecological turn’ has the potential to enable a fundamental reimagining of our relationship to the environment. In this possible future, ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ are no longer a pair of dialectical opposites with apparently insoluble conflicts of interest. Nature and landscape can from then on form an integral part of our societal ambitions and decisions.
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.
Teaching and research at the Institute of Buildings and Energy pursue the goal of maximising the energy performance of buildings by optimising their form and construction. Energy-efficient architecture is understood as a triad of minimal energy consumption, an optimal interior climate and architectural quality.
We approach contemporary architecture with parametric and algorithmic methods and try to explore the inherent possibilities and perspectives. Our efforts in research and teaching fall under two main topic areas: ‘digital fabrication’ and ‘augmented architecture’.
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.