Multiplicity – Europan 15 Graz

When moving through the current state of the strategic site towards the project site, one might ask: 

  • Is this industrial area prepared for our future challenges?
  • Is it prepared for the changing mobility behaviour towards a CO2 neutral mobility? 
  • Can the space be adapted by businesses to their changing needs? 
  • Is there a possibility to share infrastructure and resources with in the area? 
  • Is there a vital exchange and use of workforce, services or goods produced within the area or its adjacent surroundings in order to reduce traffic but increase productivity? 
  • Does the area offer what its neighbouring areas lack? Does the eastside of the Mur have access to the area?
  • Is it possible to get from one point to any other point of interest within the area quickly and easily and without any annoying detours? Especially on foot or by bike? 
  • Is there any spatial quality that leads people to stay within the area? Are there any programs within the area that could attract and shorten the daily paths for the people who work here or live nearby (e.g. work, childcare, grocery or drug stores, further education, space for social engagement or recreation)? And does it play a central role to the city and especially to its surroundings?

In short: Is this multifunctional urban industrial area thinking forward to the future?

The answer is simply – NO!

So how can we change that?

The area itself is too small, too enclosed by the city and accessible only by narrow and highly frequented streets to be of any interest for any big contemporary production industries as it used to be. Therefore it has to find a new identity. However, there is built and programmatic potential within the area. The latest developments throughout the past years (Tagger Silos, former Coca-Cola-Filling Station or the promotion of renewable energy) already show the possible future towards MULTIPLICITY.

A prospective small urban industrial area does not close itself off from the city. It comes to life by exchange within and with its surroundings and it is feeded by multifunctionality. The following essential points show how this future can be enabled.

Reconnect

In order to put the site on the map for everyone, it has to be made accessible. It has to be reconnected to the city and within the area. 

That means to connect the two neglected residential areas Schönau District on the East Side and Triester District on the West Side through the site via the “Fröhlich Bridge” and connecting the Northern District Gries with the Southern industrial area via a second bike and pedestrian path alongside the Mühlgang (a beautiful green sidearm of the Mur used by the mills). And furthermore to connect the highly frequented bike lane alongside the Mur to the site by regularly opening up the barriers to the newly created east-west cross paths throughout the area.

This will transform the site from just a geographical center into a real urban sub-center between those neighbouring districts. 

Since it will be still an area for communal infrastructure facilities, manufacturing and wholesale trade, the delivery system and the swap between private and company vehicles play a key role throughout the area. In order to slow down or even stop climate change, not only the shell of our houses and our lifestyle should change, but the industrial and infrastructural transport system as well. 

The consequence is to enable an attractive public transport (e.g. Railway Station) and bike access to the area, to change the transport of goods from trucks to cargo trains using and enhancing the existing train tracks, to create an efficient CO2 neutral innercity delivery system by introducing Micro-Cargo-Hubs that transfer goods between cargo-trains and cargobikes and to power the necessary remaining trucks and cars with solar power or CO2 neutral hydrogen power (using small solar power and hydropower stations). 

Since there will be a massive change of mobility, the streets have to be reorganized. So cars and trucks have to be reduce and concentrate only to a few streets. The remaining streets have to be converted into bike streets or shared spaces. Secure and closed pedestrian path network have to be established. In addition to this enable a closed network of bike lanes which should contain main bike highways into the city, connecting paths and access paths. 

Repair & Recycle

Industrial areas have to be open and flexible to change. Because with economic growth and recession, local and global influences businesses need to change. And so does the space they are located in if you want them to stay and thrive within the site. 

Businesses stopped to cover it all. Instead there is the growing tendency to outsource, cooperate, rent or share space, infrastructure and resources. This behaviour shapes the spatial need to rent (not own) adaptable usage-neutral smaller spaces linked to other small spaces in form of a network, enabling growing or shrinking, cooperation and a vital sharing economy of resources and infrastructure. 

The consequence: 

  • Establish a shared network of infrastructure between existing and new buildings.
  • Actively communicate and show available and needed space or resources within the area’s businesses and surrounding residents based on a virtual and physical exchange platform in form of a district community center. 
  • Densify existing buildings to create more shared space or infrastructure. Repair urban fabric by rejoining related uses. 
  • Recycle vacant buildings by transforming them into a network of usage-neutral small spaces. 
  • And add new structures which follow the principles of flexibility, usage-neutrality, sharing, connecting and cooperation as their very core. 
  • On the urban scale: REPAIR the parts that already have the tendency towards MULTIPLICITY. RECYCLE the parts of the strategic site that lack of program but not of potential MULTIPLICITY buildings. REVIVE the rest by focused and enhanced urban developments as well as an active renaturalization for a livable urban climate.
Revive

This MULTIPLICITY cannot expand into any direction. So it has to set its focus on quality, but not on quantity as its key characteristic. 

It renaturalizes former sealed areas into an URBAN FOREST that serves on the one hand as recreational area for everyone and on the other hand as a natural air-conditioner for the city.

It concentrates stationary vehicles into multifunctional TRANSPORT-Hubs in order to give back the urban space between the buildings to the people. 

It concentrates existing and new building structures on smaller areas in order to create a dense urban space with a multifunctional interwoven program to shorten everyone’s daily routes within the city.  

It integrates multiple connections between existing and new structures and enhances cross-border spatial possibilities.

It revives the area and its surroundings by completing it with missing program essential to a vital urban space.

MULTIPLICITY is a productive area producing and trading food, energy, heating, cooling, plants, communal services, resource and waste management, forward thinking delivery service, public and enhanced private transport. But it also offers education, workspace, recreation, aid, space for social, cultural and religious exchange. 

IT IS NOT SMART!  IT IS ESSENTIAL! IT IS MULTIPLICITY!

Multiplicity Hub

The starting point of this forward thinking urban industrial development is the MULTIPLICITY-Hub. The former Coca-Cola-Filling Station which now is partially used as a kind of prototype for MULTIPLICITY which should be enhanced and densified to exemplify MULTIPLICITY on a compact scale.

The main idea behind this proposal is to recycle the existing building structure by transforming it into a network of usage-neutral small units, individually adaptable and expandable by its users. The main regular supporting structure of the building and its height are the perfect basis for the MULTIPLICITY-Hub. But the size of its area is too small to generate a vital programmatic mixture and critical mass of uses. The proposal for the adaptation and extension of the building therefore is simple: copy and connect. Copying the supporting structure in order to extend the building’s volume to the west, to the east and on top. Adapting the whole structure by introducing regularly vertical infrastructural cores (such as staircases, elevators, sanitary and technical facilities, etc.) and regular horizontal connections between the individual units. These units are based on the building’s existing constructional grid that allows an individual horizontal and vertical adaptation starting with 50m² to 1000+m². 

The size of the building makes it essential to insert atriums for a necessary regular daylight exposure and an irregular spatial structure allowing a better orientation within the vast regular grid. On the ground floor the building opens up to its surroundings by generating a main thoroughfare that connects the Mühlgang on the east with the Urban Forest on the west side of the building introducing a main three dimensional orientation axis through the building. This main access zone is a generous open space connecting the vertical levels and its adjoining shared uses.

Distributed between all those elements are certain shared units (e.g. kitchen, workshop, community center, meeting and seminar rooms, carsharing or appropriation voids) establishing a communicative space for all users.

The architectural concept behind this proposal is to create a network of horizontal and vertical flexible units which enable a wide range of future possible uses. The key to a productive MULTIPLICITY-Hub is a wide range of differently sized uses, a mixture of complementary programs and the communicative process of sharing, connecting and cooperation between those individual users through an active building AND process management. 

The architecture does not define a specific program, but a communicative space of spatial appropriation. 

Europan 15, einstufiger EU weit offener Wettbewerb 2019, Shortlisted
Wettbewerb: Eva M. Hierzer, Stephan Brugger