Cucinella wins in Vienna: my towers view Prater in the “auto free” district

13 Mar 2018

7 min

Mario Cucinella tells to “Il Sole 24 Ore – Edilizia e Territorio” about the Viertel Zwei project, winner of the international competition with more than 70 competitors.

Two towers side by side, but very different, conceived as a vertical city, where the green acts as a unifying element. They are connected by a three-storey podium, within which the public space can be articulated.This is the idea – managed by Bim – that earned MC A – Mario Cucinella Architects the victory in the international competition launched by the Austrian investor Ic Development, who decided to build two towers in the district of Viertel Zwei, in Vienna. This is an expanding green district, banned to cars, that Ic Development is building in an area of great value of about 100 thousand square meters, east of the historic center, between the stadium, the campus of the Faculty of Economics, with its library and learning center designed by Zaha Hadid, and the Prater, the great green lung of the city.

The lowest tower, 90 meters high, will house mainly residences. The other, which stands next to it, is 120 meters high, six floors will be occupied by hotels and the rest will accommodate offices. “The idea of having two identical towers seemed dated to us, so we treated them as if they were two separate projects,” explains Mario Cucinella. The two towers are very different in shape and language. With his project, studio MC A got the better of other studios that came to the second degree of the competition after a selection involving about seventy teams. In the final, there were Fuksas, Ingenhoven architects, Delugan Meissl Associated Architects with StudioVlayStreeruwitz, 3XN with Gerner° Gerner plus, Zechner & Zechner Architekten, Henn, Atelier Thomas Pucher and Querkraft architekten.

The residential building, designed by studio MC A, is broken down into volumes that on each floor seem to slide one above the other, creating projections and recesses. The resulting image is not accidental: the slabs, with their shape and projections, favour, as necessary, the access of solar radiation to the interior and protection from radiation and wind. From the point of view of energy strategy, the two towers are already performing in form, but this is a constant in the work of MC A. The residential building is conceived as an extension of the surrounding area.

“The idea – says Cucinella – is that of a small vertical town, a small garden town that rises from the Prater and ends up in the residential tower“. The tower is dotted with winter gardens of single, double, or triple height, positioned at different heights and designed as collective spaces of the vertical city. “The challenge was to make these spaces attractive, imagining them as places where to find, even at different heights, shared spaces, especially green ones, that could enrich the value and the quality of the internal lodgings”, says Giulio Desiderio, senior architect of the MC A studio and coordinator of the Vienna project. “These are not luxury residences, but houses for the middle class, in a neighbourhood that aims for very high levels of quality of life,” says Cucinella.

The office and hotel tower is more “simple and pragmatic,” says Cucinella. It is characterized by an organic geometry, whose verticality is reinforced by the succession of sunshade blades. The tower has an elliptical plan, a shape designed to follow the direction of the prevailing winds so as not to produce turbulence that could compromise the livability of the spaces on the ground. The tower for offices and hotels is also equipped with habitable greenhouses. These divide vertically a large cavity to the south, which provides the necessary ventilation of the interior. At the base of the two towers, a succession of horizontal planes builds the public space characterized by high squares. A sort of three-storey podium is created, which acts as a “mediator between the verticality of the towers and the horizontality of the park”, explains Mario Cucinella. For the basic part, according to the needs expressed by the client, the Bologna office has provided “open functions and therefore a kindergarten, a fitness area, a small shopping center, multifunctional spaces and the two lobbies that lead on the one hand to the hotel and offices and on the other to the residences,” adds Giulio Desiderio. “It is an area – he continues – with the prerogatives of “mixed use”, which adds richness and quality to the spaces”.

Nel progetto delle torri la risposta ai temi della sostenibilità, dell’efficienza energetica, si trasforma in estetica. Sostenibilità e ricchezza di spazi pubblici sono, inoltre, valori che incrociano le strategie della committenza. Mixité, sostenibilità ambientale e ricchezza di spazi pubblici, sono infatti le qualità su cui Ic Development sta puntando nel dare forma al quartiere. «Il committente ha unito alla qualità dello spazio pubblico anche la qualità energetica del complesso, quindi ha visto l’operazione in una sua dimensione globale, ed è un ragionamento che non fanno tutti. Ci siamo trovati davanti ad un interlocutore che considera queste cose come un valore anche dal punto di vista del marketing e della comunicazione», spiega Cucinella. «Un’azienda che va a lavorare lì, ci va perché associa un valore a quell’edificio, perché c’è un’attenzione a questi temi (ai temi della sostenibilità e della qualità della vita, ndr). Si tratta di un valore globale: all’euro speso sono associati anche dei valori di natura ambientale, etica, di comfort. I nostri committenti austriaci, che rischiano del capitale, fanno un investimento di profitto, ovviamente, ma sposano dei princìpi perché sanno anche che questi poi vengono percepiti dagli utenti. Seguire una certa direzione fa parte dell’etica aziendale che il mercato riconosce attribuendole un valore», riferisce ancora Cucinella. E, in Italia? In Italia ci sono developer anche capaci e che iniziano a comprendere i temi della qualità del costruire e della sostenibilità, afferma Cucinella, ma «tolta forse Milano che è un po’ alla guida del Paese, si fa fatica a vedere dei masterplan che partano da basi simili a quelle del Viertel Zwei. È la solita storia: le ambizioni sono molte, ma a queste non fanno seguito azioni forti, di committenti forti o comunque di committenti decisi nelle loro azioni». «L’Italia è un Paese in cui ci si riempie la bocca di parole, c’è una letteratura infinita sulla rigenerazione urbana, ma poi le operazioni non partono», conclude Cucinella.

In the design of the towers, the answer to the themes of sustainability and energy efficiency is transformed into aesthetics. Sustainability and the richness of public spaces are also values that cross the strategies of the client. Mixité, environmental sustainability and a wealth of public spaces are in fact the qualities on which Ic Development is focusing in shaping the district. “The client has combined the quality of the public space with the energy quality of the complex, so he has seen the operation in its global dimension, and it is a reasoning that not everyone does. We found ourselves in front of an interlocutor who considers these things as a value also from the point of view of marketing and communication”, explains Cucinella. “A company that goes to work there, goes there because it associates a value with that building, because there is an attention to these issues (to the issues of sustainability and quality of life, ed.). It is a global value: the euro spent is also associated with environmental, ethical and comfort values. Our Austrian clients, who risk capital, make an investment of profit, of course, but they embrace principles because they also know that these are then perceived by users. Following a certain direction is part of the business ethic that the market recognizes and attributes value to it,” says Cucinella. And in Italy? In Italy there are also capable developers who are beginning to understand the themes of quality of construction and sustainability, says Cucinella, but “except perhaps Milan, which is a bit at the head of the country, it is hard to see master plans that start from bases similar to those of Viertel Zwei. It’s the usual story: there are many ambitions, but these are not followed by strong actions, of strong clients or, in any case, of clients who are determined in their actions”. “Italy is a country where you fill your mouth with words, there is endless literature on urban regeneration, but then the operations do not start,” concludes Cucinella.

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