Page E2.1 . 20 February 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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    Austrian Sky Garden

    by W-M.O. Tschuppik

    Until around the turn of the 21st century, high-rise buildings were quite rare in Vienna. Here and there a radio tower or an office building would reach above the Austrian capital's skyline, but skyscrapers were so rare that the Vienna building regulations classified any building over 65 feet (20 meters) tall as high-rise.

    So when the firm Coop Himmelb(l)au built a 25-story apartment tower, its height drew attention. Also remarkable was its passive heating and cooling system supported by a high-tech, double-skin, climate-tempering glass facade.

    To build a tower in Vienna, particularly for housing, was considered an absurdity until recently. Housing, it was generally agreed, had to be near the ground and, if possible, with direct access to a garden. Contributing to this attitude was that building into the skies had always been the subject of myth in Europe, as evidenced in the fabulous gardens of medieval paintings.

    In isolated instances, skyscrapers are becoming the height of fashion, such as with the Commerz Bank in Frankfurt, Germany by Norman Foster. But so far, air space has gone largely undeveloped for high-rise-abstinent Middle Europeans.   >>>



    ArchWeek Image

    The SEG Apartment Tower by Vienna firm Coop Himmelb(l)au.
    Photo: M_Ziegelwanger

    ArchWeek Image

    The building's "cool head" is a huge dark cube that controls air circulation within the climatic facade.
    Photo: M_Ziegelwanger


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