LMK 04 - 02 - 2010

GASOMETER - VIENNA, AUSTRIA Gasometer is a mixed-use, adaptive reuse series of buildings removed from central Vienna. The four cylindrical buildings were originally built in the 1890's to be used as holding containers for coal gas, but after the switch from coal to natural gas, these buildings sat unused until a movement to reuse this land that began in the mid-1990's. The re-development of these buildings retained the facades but introduced a new layering system of uses. The first three stories are retail commercial outlets, which all connect via glass walkways (illustrated at top right). The further skyward the floor, the more private the area starting with office spaces and then finally residential floors. Each building, despite having the same exterior and concept for divisions in uses, has its own unique layout for the upper stories that are further illustrated in the diagram at bottom right. These different plans allow for varying views from each of the buildings. A glass canopy separates the top floor of the retail from the rest of the building providing a physical distinction between the public and private spaces. The third building in the group has the most dynamic physical change with an exterior contemporary building made of glass and steel is a paracitical addition. Many parts of this complex can be seen as successful. The circular layout of the stores allows for good central activity. In the first building the first three floors are open as an atrium space that encourages people watching from all directions. Additionally some of the ground floors have exterior access for the larger stores. Another successful design is the musical stage area in the third building that has a wonderful mural depicting the human lifestyle. Lastly, jutting off of the central glass connector walkway is a walkway that connects the Gasometer commercial area to the movie theatre across the street. Despite all of the positives that this design as a whole has to offer, the complex felt erie and sparcly populated. Once out of the first commercial building, many other stores were closed and preparing to move. This included H&M, which not only had one of the few exterior entrances but is also a normally highly successful European clothing chain. The only points of connection for the buildings are on the third floor. The signage toward these walkways was not clear, which is perhaps why so many stores are having difficulties remaining in business. Whatmore to the circulation issues is that accessing the other floors (excluding within the first building) was impossible. The elevators only had access to the subterranean parking levels but not the other retail levels. Lastly, the complex was simply not located in the most densely populted area of Vienna. All of these have assisted in the possible failure of this complex despite the remarkable designs that went into the complex.

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