Design Studio WS 19/20

Design Studio WS 19/20: RE*WORKING Neunkirchen – Revitalising existing buildings


Within the scope of the design programme. The design programme focuses on a long property with three existing buildings in Neunkirchen, Lower Austria. These are former factory dwellings, which also gave their name to the street (“Werksgasse”). Nevertheless, the heyday of the (textile) industry in the Schwarza Valley is long past and the question of the long-term (re)use of the area also arises. It is planned to remove the barracks at the back and to demolish the garage boxes on the street side. Subsequently, the freed-up area will be available for a future (meaningful) use. The utilisation of all existing areas can and should be considered strategically. However, the three factory buildings are subject to the regulations for the protection of historical monuments. Neunkirchen’s main square can be reached on foot in 10-15 minutes.


If one considers the available designs, the breadth of the proposals in relation to the elongated property with the three significant listed factory buildings becomes clearly apparent. Superficially, it seems necessary to pursue an appropriate utilisation of the property in the sense of an economic viability of the project, but beyond that it is equally important to define a place – and thus to develop qualities that make the area comprehensible as a “neighbourhood” and “home”. For the designers, the question arises of how to tie in with the existing brick buildings, or how they could form a unit with the new development to be defined. Here it is a matter of following a very individual path for each individual. A procedure that ultimately opens up that creative breadth. The treatment and redesign of the existing buildings already pose challenges in themselves. The supply of light inevitably becomes an issue in dealing with the buildings themselves. In the narrow field of restrictions imposed by the preservation of historical monuments, it is important to retain the necessary freedom and at the same time to achieve the highest possible level of accessibility with regard to use. What the designs have in common is the obvious striving for “revitalisation and activation” in the sense of conceivably diverse uses and a user community that is as heterogeneous as possible. This envisaged liveliness should be able to generate an open neighbourhood within which future users will be able to organise themselves, at least in part. It is to be hoped that the diversity of ideas presented will be reflected accordingly and that the design approaches will contribute their share to the conceivable active and diverse use of the designated area.