The new campus of the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) is a masterpiece of modern architecture and has completely changed the landscape and the popularity of the 2nd district. Previously divided amongst different locations and departments, the 90,000 m² campus now has all of its offices, lecture halls and work spaces centralized and intermingled. Most of the campus has been designed as open space for students, professors and visitors, with only 35,000 m² actually taken up by buildings. The goal was to create an environment that supports productivity and communication.
With six architectural firms from cites around the world – Madrid, Hamburg, Barcelona and Vienna, to name a few – each responsible for a single department building and for together conceptualizing the different elements composing the campus, designing a cohesive concept has truly been an international effort (http://www.wu.ac.at/campus/en/architecture ).
Environmental sustainability played an especially significant role in the design plan, with all of the new structures being “green buildings”. Wherever possible the environmental impact of the buildings was mitigated by using renewable energy sources, long-lasting technical components and technology, and emissions-free materials. Collecting solar energy and harvesting rain water are just two of the ways the campus is able to realize its environmental objectives and achieve sustainability.
The centrepiece of the campus is definitely the Learning Centre, or library, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Hadid is a London-based architect and is the first woman to have received the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. Hadid’s impact on Vienna’s architectural landscape is felt not only here at the library, she also founded the Studio Hadid Vienna at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.
Upon entering the library building, you feel as though you’ve been transported into a spaceship from Star Wars: very white, very bright, and very sleek and modern. I was also struck by its resemblance to New York City’s Guggenheim Museum; certainly it is an inspiring environment in which to study.
The wide array of culinary options on campus may tempt you to idle away your time sipping coffee in the sun rather than studying. Restaurants, cafes, and the WU Mensa, where you can purchase cheap, high-quality meals, invite the over 25,000 students of the University of Economics and Business to spend the whole day – maybe even the night – there. The campus has everything – book stores, a kindergarten, supermarket, even a sports centre.
For anyone who would like to learn more about the buildings, the architects and how campus life works, guided tours are offered of the campus and buildings. If you prefer a solo exploration, feel free to wander through and finish by strolling through the beautiful Prater.
Header image: STADTBEKANNT Mautner