MVRDV Responds to Vienna’s Urban Landscape with the Design of a “Tower with a Waist”

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Samuel Nguma

Samuel Nguma is an Editor for Archute. He enjoys taking long walks and reading short stories. He is an ardent lover of architecture which he studied at the University of Nairobi.
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MVRDV has been tasked with the construction of a new tower featuring flexible space and an hourglass design near the globally recognized Gasometer's of Vienna. Situated between the airport and city centre, the 110-meter "Turm mit Taille" which translates to "Tower with Waist," will be built in an area that is in dire need of major urban revitalization.

The site for the tower is directly adjacent to a metro station, and building regulations initially restricted construction to a 75 metre high volume that had be trapezoidal in plan. MVRDV, however, proposed a more compact and efficient square layout, which resulted in a taller volume to make up for the reduced footprint. In exchange for these concessions in the building’s volume and plan; the impact of the building’s shadow on its neighbours was thus minimised.

The solution was to parametrically shape the lower 10 floors of the building into a twist, to minimise the structure’s shadow cast onto the neighbouring façades to only two hours a day. Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV says: “It is nice to see that if we take the two hour cast shadow regulation seriously we are able to create an unprecedented tower. A tower with a slender ‘taille’. Isn't that the classic definition of beauty?” Through this operation, an elegant, hour-glass figure emerged that responds to its surroundings by opening up views towards the Gasometers and the rest of the city. The design for the plaza around the tower consequently becomes like a gigantic sundial, on which the shadow of the building delineates the passing of time.

The individually shaped floors of the building’s twist, each of which are unique in plan, offer generous outside spaces connected to one another by external stairs. In doing so, the twist helps to enliven the lower part of the tower, connecting it to the plaza below, and allowing for a degree of direct access which is rare in urban environments so often characterized by introverted tall buildings. This curving ‘waist’ also functions to siphon off fierce autumn winds, a frequent phenomenon in the Danube valley, diverting the wind away from the plaza and the metro station entrances and ensuring comfort in the public space beneath.

The square layout of the remaining 20 floors and the efficient core distribution enhance the tower’s flexibility and result in a net floor surface area of 80% of column-free spaces which features a 3.5 metre ceiling height. The floors of the building can be developed into housing or a wide variety of office configurations, and due to its flexible structural layout, the tower can be reconfigured functionally at a later stage. The tower will be realised in a cost effective structure of composite columns and concrete slabs; and the steel and glass façade will include operable windows and full-height French doors in order to allow for natural ventilation.

Project Information
Architect: MVRDV
Location: Vienna, Austria
Design Team: Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries, Fokke Moerel, Luca Moscelli, Matteo Artico, Angelika Hinterbrandner, Johannes Pilz, Fokke Moerel, Luca Moscelli, Matteo Artico and Johannes Langer
Structural Engineer: Bollinger + Grohmann Ingenieure Wien
Sustainability Consultant: Energy Design Cody Consulting
Area: 35 680 sqm
Status: Design Stage
Photographs: MVRDV

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About the author

Samuel Nguma

Samuel Nguma is an Editor for Archute. He enjoys taking long walks and reading short stories. He is an ardent lover of architecture which he studied at the University of Nairobi.
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