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Centre for the Study of European Literature

Part 2 Project 2000
Samuel Causer
University of Cambridge Cambridge UK
Vienna combines two of the fundamental settings of European identity - the city and the river. Accordingly, this project for a Centre for European Literary Culture sited at the junction of the Donaukanal and Ringstrasse develops 'horizontally' as a radical reinterpretation of Viennese urban typology, and 'vertically' as a metaphoric development of traditional river symbolism. Part of a series of interventions at the margins between city and river, the scheme grows vertically from a small columbarium for authors set below river level through a metaphoric 'garden' of settings devoted to the range of situations of discourse (from commercial life through public performance to private reflection) to two 'facades' of residences and a wintergarden which attain the horizon of the existing building line over the river.
Samuel Causer

The project is part of a strategy to revitalise the space along the Danube Canal and at the end of the Viennese Ringstrass. The idea behind the project is to create an important international intsitution (Centre for European Literary Culture), which would at the same time contribute to the daily life of the city. This idea is supported by the multiligual history of Viennese culture, as well as by the central position of Vienna in the extended vision of Europe.

More than half of the site is allocated to primary urban facilities (shops, agencies, restaurants, meeting places, residential etc.) closely integrated with the facilities and spaces of the literary centre. The result is a small segment of a city. The scheme is structured as a transition from the existing level of the Ringstrass to the level of the River Wien and canal. The sequence of horizontal layers contributes to the differentiation of the public spaces on the level of the city from the more private, internal spaces of the literary centre (library, private studies, etc.). In contrast to the overall horizontality of the scheme, the residential part of the literary centre (organised in a similar way to the Hotel Chelsea in New York), is situated in a high-rise building at the corner of the site, which completes by its scale and position the configuration of the Ringstrass. The spatial organisation of the scheme is an original attempt to substitute the conventional formal structure of space with a stituational structure, where the spatial configuration is determined by the content of the space (more specifically by ther content of individual spaces and rooms and their mutual relationship).

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