This project takes place within the framework of the Angewandte Programme for Inter- and Transdisciplinary Projects in Art and Research (INTRA) and is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.
What affects a single component of an ecosystem has a ripple effect on the entire system. The intricate interconnections within ecosystems necessitate a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to research and prototyping. In collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Interspecies Nursery project seeks to propose and construct contextually relevant spatial concepts that promote community building, shared spaces for learning, and using hardwood as a regenerative building material for vocational education centers in Liberia.
The objective of research is to design a nature-oriented spatial proposal that serves as a shared space for learning and community. The proposal will not only integrate the surrounding forest as a source of material but also recognize it as a key participant in the collaborative learning process. Emphasizing the importance of interspecies cooperation, the spatial proposal will evolve into a nurturing environment for collective growth and understanding.
As Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar, a professor of sociology, once articulated, “The world is a pluriverse – an emerging archipelago of worlds in struggle – inhabited by a constellation of communitarian weavings that sustain life in the midst of the violent negation of its horizons and desires.” In line with this perspective, the project endeavors to curate an “Atlas of Interspecies Intersections”, an ongoing initiative that will unveil profound insights and contribute to the preservation of forest ecosystems. It aims to explore how the individual worlds of various beings can be integrated into an architectural gesture, resulting in an education pavilion prototype devoid of walls.
Through a joint effort between the University of Applied Arts Vienna (Die Angewandte), [Applied] Foreign Affairs and the UNIDO team, in collaboration with students, educators and carpenters from vocational education centers in Liberia, we aim to leverage collective intelligence to develop solutions for ecosystem management that benefit all beings and species.
TAMALE'S INNER-URBAN ECOLOGIES
[Applied] Foreign Affairs, in partnership with the University for Development Studies (UDS), Tamale Ghana received a 2023 – 2025 Africa-UniNet project grant.
TAMALE’S INNER-URBAN ECOLOGIES is a collaborative research project investigating the inner urban ecologies of Tamale, one of the fastest-growing cities in West Africa. The research will be conducted by a joint team from the University of Applied Arts Vienna (Angewandte) in Austria, and the University for Development Studies (UDS) – and in partnership with Nuku, the Center for Photographic Research and Practice in Tamale, Ghana, led by Baerbel Mueller and Courage Kosi Setsoafia Saba. The guiding interest is to identify complex spatial, environmental, and socio-economic structures and the characteristics and potentials of multi-species co-habitation spaces, as well as future planning process models. These will be researched through three selected sites in the city of Tamale which will serve as case studies, to encourage more inclusive, multi-species inner urban areas in the near future. TIUE proposes a work model that synthesizes different methods of inquiry, bringing together the expertise of the two parties: spatial and artistic ([A]FA, I oA, Angewandte), and scientific and solution-oriented (UDS). The project expands on the already existing collaborative research network developed through Tamale Territories, a joint project realized between November 2020 and June 2023.
The Austrian-African Research Network Africa-UniNet was initiated by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) and launched by Austria’s Agency for Education and Internationalization (OeAD) and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU). Its objective is to create a long-term, stable basis for cooperation between Austrian and African universities and research institutions. Africa-UniNet intends to promote new contacts, deepen scientific cooperation and provide excellent opportunities for innovative joint research projects, funded by the BMBWF. The Angewandte and the University for Development Studies (UDS) are active members of the network of currently 68 member institutions and universities, from Austria and 17 African countries.
SoundCape - Combating Environmental Noise in Urban Areas
This project takes place within the framework of the Angewandte Programme for Inter- and Transdisciplinary Projects in Art and Research (INTRA) and is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.
“SoundCape” explores the acoustic performance of building envelopes as effective sound-absorbing noise regulators and their potential to combat environmental noise in outdoor space through the targeted use of ornamentation, generative design, and digital fabrication technologies.
Environmental noise is one of the major growing ecological challenges in cities, and unfortunately, an often underestimated threat to the health of our urban and natural ecosystems. Increasing mobility and accelerated urban growth are the main cause of noise emissions and are predicted to increase in the future. As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Environment Agency (EEA), chronic exposure to noise pollution affects the physical and mental well-being of millions of people.
Since the digital turn in architecture, advances in digital technologies have opened up multiple design possibilities, enabling the composition, optimization, and intelligent performance of complex geometries. At the same time, one can see a return to ornamentation in contemporary architecture. Whereas building sculpture, lush facade design, and decorations were considered useless or superfluous during the modern era, generative design and digital manufacturing technologies provide today the technological apparatus to rethink the performance of these elements.
“SoundCape” addresses this premise by examining ornamentation as a highly specialized building element for noise reduction. At the intersection of artistic and scientific research, we see a strong potential for architecture to engage with acoustic ecology and urban soundscapes by rethinking the functional requirements of architectural surfaces, in order to protect urban areas from sonic pollution.
BIOCOOL - Bio-inspired surfaces for evaporative cooling of building envelopes
Due to climate change and the need to reduce the overall energy demand in buildings and avoid urban heat islands, there is an urgent need for further development of passive cooling techniques that reduce energy consumption, support the environment and the ecosystem, and provide a satisfactory level of comfort. The improvement of direct evaporative cooling systems for building envelopes aims at improved effectiveness for use in temperate climates. Bioinspiration has emerged in recent decades as an innovation method for developing sustainable solutions for the built environment.
The BIOCOOL project will explore the transfer of morphological principles from biology to form-optimized architectural surfaces for climate control of building envelopes. In deciduous trees, the shapes of leaves determine the thermal properties and in particular the efficiency of evaporation and thus cooling. Based on existing fundamental research and new insights into these shape principles, parametric design and machine learning are used to fabricate panels of porous materials with 3‑D surface structures. This shape-function relationship, as well as the use of specially adapted ceramic materials with defined porosity and microstructure, is expected to increase the evaporation efficiency of the panels compared to conventional technologies. The performance of the installed prototypes with respect to their thermal properties will be investigated, comparatively evaluated, and sustainable low-tech concepts for system integration will be designed. The integration into the building system, in particular the water cycle and energy management, and the impact on the urban space on pedestrian and neighborhood level will be investigated in concepts and simulations. The building envelope is interpreted as an energy carrier and as an active element in the sense of ecosystem services, and the impact on urban space and environment is assessed in several scales and aspects. The study is conducted by two academic institutions with long experience in energy design and building physics, involving students. The marketability and costeffectiveness of the innovation are ensured through workshops with industry stakeholders. BIOCOOL paves the way for an industrial research project by preparing data on proof-of-concept prototype experiments and analysis on the impact of the new technology. The successful exploration is not only interesting for the building sector, but also for other technology areas where heat exchangers are used, and thus has a large market potential.
Responsive spaces in the era of biomedality
FWF PEEK Funded project 2019 – 2022
Co-corporeality proposes new aesthetic and technological approaches towards re-discussing the role of material systems within architecture, emerging from questions of the terms ‘nature’ and ‘ecology’ brought up by recent discourse in art and architecture. Contrary to conventional building materials, ‘living materials’ have the capability of being tailored and programmed in relation to the environment or specific needs, in order to transform the built environment into a ‘biological entity’ and change the way we understand, observe and communicate with the built space. The project is highly interdisciplinary and located within the domains of architectural design, biochemistry, microbiology and computer science. The project aims to establish an interaction between a human and a living material in order to develop a responsive environment that interacts, learns, grows and decays in relation to human presence and behaviour. The project has three main areas of enquiry:
- Entanglement of microorganism and bacteria strains with novel material systems
- Design of interfaces that allow non-verbal communication to evoke changes and responses within the material
- Production of full-scale proto-architectural installations
The discursive nature of the research investigates the effects of the human-microbial relationship as a responsive environment where one biological system (the human) observes another one (a responsive material) and vice versa. The viewer approaches the potential biological subject (the material) through the state of perceptive co-existence and develops a distinct relationship different to that of a dead object or a mere simulation. Conventional research on responsive architecture is mostly based on strictly controlled dependencies, creating kinetic and interactive environments by only using mechanical apparatuses and wide arrays of sensors. The innovative aspect of the Co-corporeality project is to use biotechnical architecture as a discursive platform where technological, biological hybrids generate performative architecture. As such, the concrete effects of this interaction allow for an enhanced perception of space-comprising factors of non-verbal communication including haptics (touch), kinetics (body movement), proxemics (human presence), and especially oculesics (eye contact, patterns of fixations).
University of Applied Arts: Barbara Imhof, Daniela Mitterberger, Tiziano Derme, Damjan Minovski, Patricia Tibu, Xavier Madden
Austrian Institute for Artificial Intelligence: Robert Trappl, Martin Gasser,
University of Innsbruck Department of Microbiology: Heribert Insam, Mag. Dr. Judith Ascher-Jenull, Carolin Garmsiri
University of Vienna – Department of Materials Chemistry : Alexander Bismarck, Neptun Yousefi, Anne Zhao
University of Vienna, Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science, Division of Microbial Ecology, David Berry, Andreas Heberlein
SPIDER _ Subtraction as a measure to Preserve and Insulate historic Developments by Electric Robots
Starting point / motivation
The ambitious goals of climate protection (cf. Paris climate protection goals of 2015) must be reflected considering many aspects of life, including construction. It is widely acknowledged that the design of new buildings in an energy efficient way is only a drop in the ocean, considering the low rate of new construction. The stock must therefore be thought and treated. However, when it comes to the thermal renovation of Baukultur-significant building stock, one soon encounters limits in the application of conventional, ie “adding”, principles (installation of thermal insulation panels on the outer façade). Against this background, it is significant that approximately 30% of the masonry depth of the historic solid brick masonry is not statically relevant.
Contents and goals
Based on the dramatically poor thermal resistance of the exterior walls of existing buildings, and at the time same considering the a high social and cultural relevance of maintaining ornamented historical facades, the subtraction of material seems to be the key to a tremendous energetic improvement, without destroying the appearance of these buildings. On the one hand, modern methods of analysis of force and sound propagation, on the other hand modern and easily available possibilities of robotics and the meanwhile high efficiency of photovoltaics and battery technology, allow to explore a concept that investigates a fully automatic, purely solar-powered refurbishment
The aim is to develop a renovation system that is not only in the result, but already in the construction phase highly ecological and highly economical.
- Exact investigation of the historical masonry structure and its functions
- Determination of the overall potential for improvement (energy, CO2, etc) compared to conventional methods of remediation
- Literature research and expert interviews
- thermal and static simulation based on 1st, 2nd and 3rd
- Determination of strategies of the movements of facade robots based on 4.
- Test Drilling and Test Runs
- Evaluation and analysis
The research project SPIDER pursues a path deviating from conventional research and development processes. A radically alternative concept (subtractive rather than additive construction) is double-checked on its feasibility but above all on its potential. If it is possible to show that the investigated concept is feasible and sufficiently efficient regarding the reduction of thermal conductivity, the path to industrial development is opened with the prospect of a national or European-wide patent. With other partners, the founding of a spin-off / start-up can then be considered.
Vibrant Fields is an art-research project focusing on understanding climate change through artistic means.
The Influence of climatic conditions has various effects on population and population density. We can observe a direct relationship between the world distribution of urban sprawl and the respected isotherms. It is part of the argument that these isotherms are constantly moving and put tension on the current state of urbanization. Human society can only put two strategic logics into the process: Moving with the isotherm or adapting to the new climatic conditions.
Vibrant Fields hypothesizes the urban nature to be an amalgam of biological and artificially produced and technologically mediated matter that share a symbiotic life cycle within the same environment. Only by systematically understanding their relationships, we can contribute to a holistic image illuminating the influence of climate change. The main question becomes how atmospheric effects influence the living and non-living participants of the urban realm and how will they adapt to climate change.
The project aims to unravel principles of adaptation of urban metabolism as a response to energy flows. This will be achieved through observing biological and technological components of cities under extreme climatic pressure within distinct isotherms. Accordingly, dynamic events of exchange in between the components of the urban nature will be analyzed as flows of energy and information. We aim to capture stimuli, impulses, and catalysts by reducing the information to streams of measured data and by increasing the resolution of urban information.
New ways of measuring urban events will be investigated, by developing an apparatus for capturing the energy flows and transforming this information into artistic expression. Certain information such as ultrasonic waves or infrared waves which are very important in animal and botanical life are not in the human sense-able spectrum at all. Phenomena such as climate change are hard to understand, as it can only be perceived. Art has the power to augment the human experience by extending the limits of sensory impressions. In this sense data will not only be observed, collected and processed, yet, will be translated into a unique and intriguing experience. By designing transmedia art that is in continuous flux, the adaptive behavior shaped by the information of distinct environments will be explored.
Consequently, a new method of surveying the urban realm is proposed, by perceiving the built environment and its inhabitants as equal vibrant matter. Accordingly, a new theoretical cartography of interdependent systems will be established, synergizing cross-disciplinary methods of science, art, and architecture in relation to society, biology, and technology.
Immersive Installation on understanding Energy Flows in Vienna Design Week
The Research team Vibrant Fields at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in collaboration with Department of Structural Design and Timber Engineering in TU Wien created an exhibition for Vienna Design Week that explores the transience of energy by artistic means.
Vibrant Fields team developed an artificially constructed micro cosmos of different indoor climatic zones inhabited by natural and artificial agents to observe and visualize their interaction and reaction to visitors during the Vienna Design Week.
The Vibrant Fields team chose varied forms of visualizing energy flows ranging from a series of real time projections and to shape changing wax sculptures reacting to the changing climate inside the exhibition space.
The Vibrant Fields team equipped the exhibition space with self-designed sensory apparatuses to sense and record energy flows in different locations of the space. The graphics projected on the walls of exhibition space visualize real time changes of the internal climate providing information about different streams of energetic data. The aim of the visualizations is to provide general public with a representation of energy flows using an artistic language rather than conventional data visualization techniques. In this sense the energy data generated an interactive artwork, visualizing different streams of sensor data such as temperature, humidity, as well as different gases in the space.
The second projection visualizes a real time 3d Scan of the exhibition space as a heat map. The visitors can inspect the relation of their body temperature to the temperature in the exhibition space.
In addition to real-time interactive visualizations, the wax sculptures designed by the students of Department of Structural Design and Timber Engineering in TU Wien, visualize the climatic change inside the exhibitions space in a delayed transmission. The branching wax sculpture inspired by coral reefs. The coral reefs sensitivity to changes in water temperature is referenced in the ephemeral materiality of wax and its malleability. On the other hand, On the other hand, wax is a versatile material that can be 100% recycled and reshaped. Accordingly, the projects explore new material futures in which design is more of a versatile system than a fixed solution.
As part of the exhibition the wax sculptures melt and deform a reaction to changing temperature in the space and document the temperature shifts in its changing shape.
The Vibrant Fields team aims to change the visitors’ perspectives of their immediate environment, and so provide an accessible and graspable view on climate through the lens of energy flows.
Inventorics - Recombining Artifacts for Innovation
Artistic research project AR 730‑G funded by the FWF within the PEEK programme, led by Christoph Kaltenbrunner at the Institute of Art Sciences and Art Education, Department for Art Education in Design and Technology / Design, Architecture and Environment.
Additional research staff:
Ensamble Studio, Philipp Eversmann (University of Kassel), Hélène Frichot (Building and Planning University of Melbourne), Lydia Kallipoliti (Cooper Union New York), Jakob Lederer (Technical University Vienna), Tobias Nolte (Certain Measures), Jun Sato (University of Tokyo)
Today, with the help of digital tools for design and fabrication in architecture, complex structures can be designed and realized. With this computational power, it is also possible to build with unique parts, which allows to consider found objects and “waste products” as a resource for construction. To value and to (re)use such unconventional materials could contribute to a self-sustaining building culture with a distinctive aesthetic.
Embedded in the field of discrete design, where versatile modular components are used to assemble buildings that can be dismantled and reconfigured, this project aims to combine these separate approaches into a method for designing transformable spatial systems made from industrial waste stocks. Conventional sustainability concepts, based on circular economy principles, commonly strive for standardization, and minimizing irregularities. But the complexity of predefined artifacts not only constitutes a problem to be solved but offers a creative potential. The disparity between the uniqueness of parts on one hand and their systematic assembly on the other, might provide a productive tension and a unique opportunity for innovation.
Expanding the range of resource types beyond standard formats requires both, an advanced computer-based way of working, and an intuitive artistic approach. An emphasis on the process lies at the core of this research project ̶ the work focuses on iterative studies that follow a defined concept but are conducted with open outcomes. Understanding the distinct characteristics of parts and the emerging consequences for potential correlations is the basis for a bottom-up method of designing, which is built upon findings from the team’s preceding PEEK project.
Throughout this project, experimentation is key. “Making”, both in physical and digital realms, is understood as a means of understanding and clarifying complex questions. Furthermore the work is embedded in an interdisciplinary exchange with experts.
In the first phase, a range of possible material categories is assessed and subsequently narrowed down to a focus on significant examples. After that, the work is structured in a series of iterative work clusters; within each, one specific type of resource is examined in depth, subsequently accumulating knowledge, techniques and concepts. By disclosing findings and techniques, as well as making tools openly accessible, the project aims to expand the field of discrete and circular design towards more diverse concepts, that reach beyond purely functional solutions and to encourage additional research and discourse.