TURN ON Architektur Festival 9 - 11 March 2017



The first weekend in March is the time of the festival of architecture called Turn On, which happens in the big hall of the Austrian Radio in the Viennese Argentinier Strasse; it is a mandatory event for all those who are interest in the most recent happenings in both Austrian and global architecture. However, that which makes Turn On different from the similar events is the dialogue between architects and entrepreneurs, by revealing the ways in which innovations in construction enable new architectural developments and vice versa, the architects with their specific projects trigger reactions from the economic sector.  

Having in mind the constant growth of the Austrian cities, especially Vienna, the organizers of the festival have emphasized the housing projects. However, public spaces, infrastructure, renewal of the small neighborhoods have also been put to the fore.  

The presentation of the project IBA-Wien, predicting the biggest demographic growth of Vienna by the year 2022 with its specific demographic situation, aims to create a new system of social housing. New social neighborhoods would be characterizes by their synergies, mobility, and exchange. The criteria for IBA would be: specificity, complexity, availability, innovation, mobility, the execution possibilities, discursive impulses and emotionality.  These optimistic principles were one of the goals of the builders of a new satellite city near Vienna, Seestadt Asprer (a city near the lake). PPAG Architects (Popelka and Poduschka) deal with distance in between objects, with the density of neighborhoods and the intensification of contacts. They dismiss the block structure as hierarchic, advocating an open system of paths in between the objects, the one which allows surprises. Their leitmotif is clearly the density of a Mediterranean city. PPAG investigates the new housing models oriented towards multiplicity, intimacy, individuality; functionality is not their primary goal.

AWG (Alles Wird Gut) Architects deal with the relationship between the public and the private while trying to create additional meeting possibilities for the community. With their projects, they define the street space with constructions that enclose the inner garden, which is open for the public. The particularity here is the fact that the garden is now raised on to the first floor level, reachable from the public spaces over the open staircases; by doing so, the architects have created a new urban format for enlivening the city life.

One of the guests of the festival was Umberto Napolitano, a partner in the LAN office (Local Architecture Network), an office with a strong engagement in the field of social housing. In his thematically diverse and theoretically bound presentation, he presented a social housing project Carre Lumiere in Begles near Bordeaux. With a very limited budget at their disposal, the architects developed a plausible strategy. The outer manifestation of the project is the usage of industrial materials and reduced application of details, while the inner life of two blocks enables spacial possibilities for the inhabitants, both in the ways they will use the space and the flexibility of the plan that can keep track with the family evolution.

Public space as a generator of community is an important theme of the festival. With this purpose, the project of the city renewal of the Parisian Agence TER – the Northern train station in Vienna: Nordbahnhoff. The projects displays the assessment of the landscape, as well as a certain level of contextuality, by keeping the encauntered topography of the railways. The wild, self-grown vegetation is left almost untouched with delicate interventions that create a new landscape. Therefore, a city can create a landscape, the same way a landscape can create a city.

The landscape is intensively worked on in the studio Marte architects in their projects Bridge Trilogy, which includes three bridges in a wild landscape of a narrow canyon in the close proximity of the city of Dornbirn.

Schaufelschuchtbrücke 2005., Schaufelschluchtbrücke 2012 and Kohlhalden-brücke 2016. Delicate interventions in the natural surroundings, clear and brave constructions that have nothing redundant create a feeling of unity of the artificial materiality, smooth concrete and rough sharpening rocks.

Turn On has presented projects of different scales – Paul Kalkhoven, a senior partner at Foster + Partners displayed a design of a profile for Velux modular lighting system, as well as two airport projects. The realized one, Queen Alia in Arman, reveals influence taken from Islamic architecture, but at the same time, it minimizes the effects of the desert climate. New airport in Mexico City is still in its preliminary stage, announcing one of the biggest airports in the world of colossal range, but one that also displays ideas about sustainability and openness.

The festival’s program also dealt with small neighborhoods where architects can contribute greatly, too. Architects from the Office Field 72 have been dealing with the integration of the housing building complex in South Tyrol’s mountain village Eppan. While interpreting the existing village structure, they introduced new typologies of great density. They did not slip into the folkloric, but established a relationship with the impressive landscape. Architects Schneider & Lendgauer work in and for a small community and deal with the city and village renovation by communicating with the locals, in a sensible, but radically contemporary way. With this approach, adaptable and autonomous at the same time, they designed several important buildings in a place called Kals, situated below the Grossglockner.

The students of the Academy of Applied Arts are following in the foot of Anna Heringer and Francis Kere. A team composed of students from different departments has succeeded in realizing an awning for a stage on a sand beach in Haduwa, Gana for a local art association. A construction was made by students together with the local workers out of bamboo sticks. On a dialogue basis, a project was created that enriched both European students and the local community, and at the same time, it has shown new possibilities in answering to architectural challenges in today’s world.  

The tasks of the architects today was the theme of the formal speech “The Identity of Contemporary City” delivered by an Austrian architect Dietmar Feichtinger, who works in Paris. According to him, the architects need to be the facilitators of an architecture representative of its age; but, by not neglecting reality – the dependence on the power structures, economy, political climate. However, there is still a possibility for the architects to express themselves through architecture, create values, define their professional roles. It is necessary to find and create an identity that will be in accordance with our day and age. 

Vera Grimmer