‘Accessing Facades’ was a proposal for temporary installations in the city of Vienna for the ‘Design Project Vienna International Ideas Competition: How to React to a City?’. The project was chosen in the Top 20 list for publication in June 2010.

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Facade City

Façade City

‘Vienna as an important young design location’ is an intriguing thought. At first glance this city appears matured, immaculate, enclosed and secure within its continuous building facades. No fissures become apparent. The city facades exude a disconcerting diplomatic grandeur characteristic of a city at peace with itself (or fully at war). Can this maturity sustain critical thought? And how does this static condition afford the young any design opportunity? Where would one find the exuberance of youth?

A Fragmented Landscape

But one soon realizes that the Viennese facades in fact obscure and even obviate the possibility to comprehend another reality of this postmodern city. Contained within (and possibly without) these seemingly continuous surfaces are a number of fissures (discontinuities) that direct us to a new landscape albeit fragmented. This landscape has an experiential order (not apparent in city plans) composed fully of events that occur in spite of and to a great extent to subvert the very existence of the formal, matured city. This is the contemporary Viennese landscape that this design proposal focuses on.

Accessing Facades

Accessing Facades

In envisioning Vienna of the 21st century this design proposal looks closely for potential spaces in this fragmented landscape to (re)create connections between them and to temporarily contest, re-signify, subvert or use the formal order of the city; only to be able to access this landscape as a whole without requiring re-structuring of space permanently. The design of ephemeral ‘devices’ about these façade-sites then creates various new events of looking over, moving across, ascending, descending, using, subverting and exploring the landscape in spite of the fragmentation.

In creating this new landscape then individual projects can continue being envisaged with their specific interests while the ephemeral devices as a simultaneous construct continue to challenge their physical outcomes. They provide Vienna with new accesses, new positions, newer vistas and most importantly the possibility of re-creation. In lieu of their temporary nature, they provide an agility and criticality towards everything established, mature and immaculate. This is at the core of my proposed design.

Ephemeral Device

Design Objectives

The devices are as much about moving along and into as they are about creating spaces amongst and about. The various connections provide temporary public access to spaces inaccessible to the usual urban experience. Access promises social equity and demands transparency. All are responsible. Along its access-ways, these devices create elevated terraces that frame specific vistas of the city. They re-orient and re-position the viewer to access parts of the city that do not make themselves apparent. These devices then are as symbolic as they are physical. They represent as much as ‘are’ the fissures revealed within the continuous experience of the facades of Vienna.


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