Westbahnhof City-as-a-Hill Sustainable Urban Implantation
This project was a series of three commissions from the Vienna Division of Urban Development and the National Bank of Austria to make studies and proposals for an ecological overbuilding of the main rail terminal yard in the city of Vienna with a new urban neighborhood. It was designed in a collaboration between Dr. Heidi Dumreicher, director of Oikodrom: Vienna Institute for Urban Sustainability, and Prof. Richard S. Levine, director of the Center for Sustainable Cities, USA. The long term goal of the Westbahnhof project, as a Sustainable Urban Implantation was to heal the wound in the urban fabric created by the tracks leading to the terminal with a dense urban node of sustainability, which would have acted as a seed for a sustainability model that would spread to rest of Vienna and beyond. To provide for its material needs, the Westbahnhof project would have used a Partnerland, the town of Mistelbach, in the countryside near Vienna. Linking the Mistelbach with the Westbahnhof City-as-a-Hill Sustainable Urban Implantation would have enhanced the life quality of citizens of both places, by not only creating an economic and materials link between them, but by also creating an important social exchange between the citizens of the two places.
Alternative interchangeable urban modules were utilized to rapidly investigate the viability of the new urban fabric being designed. The urban modules were designed to offer a multitude of options that took into consideration public spaces, mass transit lines, public facilities, and linkages to the existing urban fabric, to name a few. This project is one of the many iterations of the City-as-a-Hill urban model.
Based on the medieval of Italy, which were cities on a hill, the City-as-a-Hill's surface is where residential and commercial buildings are located that would create a human-scaled urban environment cradling pedestrian activity. The interior of the City-as-a-Hill is designed to house large, un-pedestrian scale facilities such as factories, warehouse-type spaces, interior galleries, transportation, and vehicle parking, while leaving the surface of the hill open. The structural system of the City-as-a-Hill is a concrete Couple Pan Space Frame developed by Prof. Levine.
The Couple Pan Space Frame (CPSF) was used in the Westbahnhof project to span over the railroad tracks leading to the terminal. The CPSF is capable of long spans, uses less concrete than conventional concrete structures, creates space within the structure itself for utilities and infrastructure, and is easy and fast to build.