Design Studio 11/12


Large parts of Karlsplatz are occupied by Resselpark. The steadily growing use of this urban space for events (Advent market, cinema under stars, pop festival, etc.) makes it necessary to think about the construction of a supervised public sanitary facility. Even if such a task seems to be very simple at first sight, it requires a precise site analysis including the existing (technical) infrastructure. Subsequently, the design, taking into account functional requirements in interaction with the existing building ensemble, is to be regarded as quite challenging. Questions that arise could be as follows: How does a public sanitary facility present itself in the heart of a historically grown metropolis? What are the design requirements for such a facility in today’s world? What added value could be created? How does the architecture assert itself in the area of conflict between hygiene, functionality and design?


Looking at the results presented, one cannot help but recognize that the topic of public sanitary facilities in urban spaces can by no means be considered exhausted. The multitude and range of ideas makes it clear to us that such a facility can also be assigned different spatial characters throughout and even supposedly technical conditions can be completely rethought. It therefore seems obvious that it is time to bring the public toilet, which has been treated shamefully up to now, more clearly into the public consciousness in the future and to wrest something new and innovative from it, also with regard to its implementation.

The sanitary facility in question, which has been given the working title Ressel.Restroom, is located in the extremely specific field of tension between urbanity and park landscape. On the one hand it is to be seen in connection with the immediately adjacent Karlskirche and on the other hand in the context of the elliptical figurations of the Resselpark.
It is therefore not surprising that the designer feels more and more committed to the urban context and then seems to be completely influenced by the artificial natural space. But however the focus is directed, it is always necessary to approach the sensitive place with the necessary degree of respect. The point of design friction must therefore inevitably lie somewhere between the self-assertion of the idea and the withdrawal from the surrounding environment.

The concrete designs that emerged bear witness to this tension. In part, they dive underground and thus at least partially evade the confrontation with the surrounding architecture. On the other hand, however, these designs sometimes wrest an area from the subsoil that sometimes holds surprising spatial experiences in store for the visitor. Other designs, in turn, focus their attention primarily on the surrounding urban alignments and visual references. Here, a network of references is generated from the urban context, which is capable of shaping the individual building. In contrast, there are approaches that seem to be entirely dedicated to the further development of the toilet in general. Here, completely new ways are described, which not least also raise a multitude of questions around the public sanitary facility. Questions that then also sometimes become apparent in the building structure. Last but not least, there are also designs that are consistently contemplative in character and thus consciously interpret the task at hand as a place of tranquility and intimacy in the urban maelstrom of movement.