During a casual stroll in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt district, you can stumble upon the area that will make you feel like you have entered another dimension or at least another century. You could ask yourself have a spaceship just landed in Vienna? But don’t be confused, you have just stepped into the campus of the eminent Vienna’s WU University of Economics and Business. The WU Campus looks like the backdrop of the new Star Trek movie, with the compact mix of spectacular modern architecture.
The entire area of the campus, located next to Vienna`s Prater Park, is huge. With approximately 90.000 square meters surface, it is bigger than the size of twelve football pitches. The built-up area is around 35.000 square meters, while the rest is reserved for publicly open spaces. The outdoor areas are conceived as the lively urban spaces, with trees, flowers, lawns, bicycle paths, and 9 drinking fountains. The floor area of all buildings of the campus amounts to around 140.000 square meters, with space for 25.000 students and 1.500 employees.
Beside institutes, libraries, and learning facilities, there are small shops, restaurants, and cafés. Everything here has been designed to make student life as pleasant as possible, with an abundance of relaxation zones.
In order to assure the success of this almost half-billion-euro worth project, the best international architects have been hired. Six world-class architecture offices have organized WU Campus on the model of Anglo-Saxon campus facilities with a lot of open spaces and institutes scattered in it. The complex consisting of six buildings is relatively eclectic because styles do not relate to each other. The entire campus was built using passive home principles, as energy-efficient as possible.
In the centre of the campus, you can find an architectural masterpiece, the Library & Learning Centre. This utterly futuristic piece of architecture has been designed by probably the world’s most known architect office Zaha Hadid Architecture. The far-reaching roof of the building stands out from afar. A lot of glass and white coloured areas make building a real head-turner. The interior of the Library & Learning Centre is reminiscent of science fiction films and spaceships. Everything looks like you have entered the command bridge of the newest generation spaceship Enterprise. The spacious atrium is dominating the building and leaves everyone breathless.
The Library & Learning Centre, as the heart of the WU Campus, is surrounded by five more architecturally impressive buildings. The most noticeable is the colourful Department Building 3 and Administration Building. The orange-yellow-red-striped façade is surrounded by the untreated silver fir wood boards. The goal of the boards is to make a connection to the adjacent park and natural landscape of the Prater. Additionally, I would like to single out Department 1 and Teaching Centre building, which is recognisable by its unique façade made from weathering steel. The surface of the building is rusted and will slowly change the colour over the years. Inside of this "rusty sculpture", there are, among other things, the new main auditorium for 650 people, a canteen, and multiple multifunctional lecture halls.
The WU Campus area actively participates in the urban life of Vienna and is very popular with the locals. The buildings are also open for visitors. If you want to have a sneak peek into how the future of our cities could look like, come and visit the WU Campus. Perhaps it will help to answer the question "Did a spaceship land in Vienna?".
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