flexibility of use
in residential accommodation, flexibility is of prime importance: flexibility that allows the adaptation of layout to user requirements, providing customised accommodation for all residents. this also enables alteration with the years and from one generation to the next as well as changes of use. thus, the fundamental structure could be altered in a few decades if the demand is for offices, practices or other styles of accommodation or family arrangements (e.g. patchwork families). what makes neutral-use initial layouts with large room sizes so popular is that it enables intelligent variability of the existing layout. querkraft gives the user several fundamentally different layout options to choose from.
flexibility of aspect
from studying the original building, the ideal orientation for us as architects was clear: the west-facing portion, looking over the green courtyard should be living area, while the east side, looking onto the little used but unattractive street, should be bedrooms. however, the developer convinced us that an east-facing orientation should also be possible. thus, an optimally variable system was created using rooms arranged around a core of sanitary facilities. a clear orientation of the loft-style living area to the afternoon or morning sun is also possible. as a further option, which represents a compromise between the two is also possible, with the living room oriented towards both sides. all of the different layout variations were actually selected by the residents and could be implemented even though the building was a mere frame construction during the viewings.
the layouts are designed such that the accommodation does not require traditional enclosed areas. an open loft with adjoining bedrooms is the result. the kitchens are open-plan, combining with the living space. not one resident selected the option of an enclosed kitchen.
a special design feature throughout the development is the window benches, an embellishment of the traditional window sill. the glazing, which extends across the entire width of the building, stretches up to the underside of the ceiling. the missing lintel is replaced structurally by a necessary beam, meaning that the window starts at a height of approx. 45 cm above floor level. the step created is designed as a bench. the rentable area, as calculated according to floor area in customary accommodation, has an additional 30 cm of usable space free of charge on account of the bench. two stools which can be used flexibly in each apartment enable particularly pleasant evenings on the balcony. these movable objects are all included in the rented accommodation.
the ample balconies hang at window bench height, i.e. approx. 40 cm above floor level, enabling the natural light to penetrate deep into the apartments. the façade is principally made up of a system of bolts and pillars, with large glass attachments, keeping the use of window frames to a minimum. the panel doors are the only opening apertures, which allow light to penetrate across the entire width of the room when open.
according to vienna building regulations, balconies adjoining the street along the whole line of the building are prohibited. however, since the concept of continuous window benches with ample glass facades only seemed sensible in conjunction with continuous balconies, the following was agreed with the building authorities: where a balcony prohibition applies, the balconies overlooking the street, as well as those within 3 metres of adjacent buildings are officially classified as architectural features and their dimensions correspond to the maximum dimensions for the overhang of cornices. however, the balconies remain usable and are decorated with greenery.
in an otherwise uninspiring, grey and monotonous residential area, it was of prime importance to arrive at a colourful and striking design. the laminated glass sheets were printed with motifs that act as a visual filter. on the one hand, internally, with regard to the neighbours, and on the other hand externally as a comprehensive enclosure around the balcony furniture which, in conjunction with the green grass provides a variety of colour. the printing is enamelled screenprint for long-lasting adhesion to the laminated glass. the visual motifs and colour scheme were the brainchild of lichtwitz-büro für visuelle kommunikation in close collaboration with the architects. finally, the bold decision was taken to also include the colour scheme on the interior of the façade, i.e. in the actual living area. this much deliberated step met with universal agreement from the residents.
the physical structure is kept to a bare minimum. the only fixed elements in each apartment are a pair of columns with a services shaft running between them. all other walls are of a lightweight construction. the continuous balconies are precast concrete elements thermally separated from the building. the staircase is also made from precast elements without additional coverings or coatings.
all apartments have bidets in the bathroom, authentic wooden parquet floors and comprehensive electrical equipment with the possibility of telephone and cable tv connections in every room. for continual ventilation, the windows feature humidity-controlled ventilation elements, which prevent problematic room climate conditions associated with modern, air-tight windows through continual extraction above the toilets.
leebgasse is directly connected to the building of architects august sarnitz via the garage. the courtyard is used communally. the other inhabitants can also pass through the houses.
to maximise the use of the room height in the apartments, the ground floor has been designed with a room height of 210 cm in the entrance area. the ground floor apartment has a sunken work area on the street side with double room height on the courtyard side to create a maisonette with bedrooms on the 1st floor.
the level changes on the ground floor created by the underground garage entrance have enabled the installation of parking bays along the courtyard passage. these easily accessible areas will take several pushchairs or bicycles and create an attractive complement to the additional general parking area in the basement.
the balconies are approved as fire curtains by the building authorities (to prevent fire spreading). for the lateral areas where the balconies are particularly slim, and connections with the adjoining house or staircase, g30 glass has been installed.