Design Studio WS 08/09



Not far from the main square of Korneuburg, the attentive visitor comes across the structural remains of a medieval synagogue. Hardly recognizable as such, the ruins, covered with a merely provisional roof, were unceremoniously converted into a garage in the midst of a small-town residential and gastronomic structure. In fact, only the stone outer walls of the original building have survived to this day. And even these are almost completely overgrown. In connection with the structural remains found, the question arises in what form such a structure could be put to a new use. Subsequently, it must be answered in which form a new function could take place in it and the structural “Jack” can or should become visible. In any case, it can be ruled out to put the synagogue as such back into operation or even to restore it. Rather, it is necessary to continue the historical process that the building has undergone up to the present day. In the course of the design exercise, it is therefore necessary to develop a meaningful spatial program, which on the one hand respects the existing building stock and on the other hand is able to fill the ruin with new life. In this context, both additions and extensions are conceivable, especially since the building is largely free-standing and basically has (albeit modest) space reserves on two sides. There is also no limit to the height of the building, since the aim is to create an interesting interplay of old and new cubatures within the framework of this design.


If one considers the diverse and broadly scattered design approaches and thoughts surrounding the former synagogue or its remains to this day, one cannot help but first pause in astonishment. In view of the structural implants and superstructures bursting with life and partial exuberance, the thought of past times is quickly forgotten and the question remains in the room, what potential the small-format area on the edge of the Korneuburger city center actually still holds today.Admittedly, in the course of the student design work, one or the other structural regulation and some static guidelines were not complied with one hundred percent. Nevertheless, insofar as this seemed really sensible and essential, the immediate and wider structural environment was always taken into account and possible impairments were taken into account accordingly.Although the task set forced and provoked a conscious breaking out of the initially obvious narrow limits from the outset, the results now available ultimately also prove in pictorial and model form that such an approach can lead to meaningful, actual approaches.In precisely this sense, the designs show more than clearly how new life can nestle within the historical wall remains. Almost all of the designs are based on the idea of using the former meeting place as such again – even if not necessarily in a religious sense. Thus, a day care center, an art house cinema, a music studio, a youth center, a theater and much more is growing out of the narrow walls of the small corner lot. Every square inch is fought for and every meter of height is a precious commodity. In many cases, the surrounding wall fragments themselves prove to be a challenging barrier that each individual has to master in a different way. For some it is the statics of the wall fragments, which in reality can hardly be loaded in any way today, for others it is the overcoming of the wall structure, which excludes all light. After all, our demands on today’s rooms are not exactly low. We demand light and air, we demand a route that can be used by everyone, and last but not least, we require that the old be set off from the new in a way that creates tension. Whether this ultimately involves a tension-filled juxtaposition, overlapping, or intermingling of old and new is determined by the way in which the conflict between the existing structure and the new requirements for use is managed. Overcoming this “creative conflict” means setting up a project that is up to the challenge.