Safety renovation performed by the BIG property association
The safety renovation work on the building was carried out on behalf of building owners, the Austrian 'Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft' (BIG) federal property association, as required by the authorities. The aim of the safety renovation is to restore the building to ensure it meets the official safety requirements for university activities.
As the main TU Wien building on Karlsplatz has been undergoing a wide variety of constant expansion, conversion and renovation work ever since it was established, the BIG initiated the process of amalgamating all building activities in 2003. The intention here was to eliminate all deficiencies from a legal and safety perspective, and achieve a corresponding permit for use (notification of completion – general consensus) for the overall building complex.
From a complete renovation to a safety renovation
After failed attempts at carrying out a complete renovation, individual measures were taken and, in addition to general renovation measures, staircases 8a and 4a in the Resselgasse courtyard (between buildings AC and AS) were also built to add to the required escape routes from the upper floors. The temporary external staircase built near the Haupttrakt (courtyard 1) while renovating the avant-corps was only intended to be used until the end of 2013, at which point it was to be removed.
There are, however, a number of key safety and fire protection measures that remain open, which is why the decision was made in July 2011 to launch preliminary enquiries into the adaptation and implementation of the original list of measures.
Defining the objective of the safety renovation
It is essential to consider the building on an overall level with regard to evacuation options, fire protection and safety, whilst also eliminating all deficiencies, in order to obtain a permit for use for the entire building. User measures such as institute reorganisations and lecture theatre renovations remain unaffected by the planned measures.
The following information had/has to be taken into consideration:
- All changes that have been made without official approval in the last 30 years.
- Prior to this point in time, it can be assumed that a general consensus was reached.
- All fire protection measures such as fire compartment boundaries, fire doors, and dry and wet risers (the building is currently only separated into fire compartment boundaries, which is not sufficient; a fire alarm system must be set up for all stairwells, public spaces, lecture theatres and corridors and special areas such as archives, amongst others).
- Evacuation plans, escape routes and safety lighting
- Fall protection: the historical structure of the building means that many areas contain parapets that are too low (in terms of the wall section between the floor and the bottom edge of the window), railings that are also too low, and inadequate building maintenance equipment (for example, fall protection on rooftops).
- To replace the emergency staircase in courtyard 1, staircase 10 was built as an extension in the Resseltrakt area (at the corner of AA and AD).
As a result of all of this, TU Wien had to get to grips with the proposed approach to the safety renovation of the main TU building and come up with a suitable response. The appropriate research and teaching conditions have to be ensured at all times.
The project found its way into the stimulus package of the Austrian Ministry for Economy, resulting in discussions of potential building phases and the emergence of the Lammtrakt block as part of the first large-scale internal building activities. The planning work then began for the safety-related adaptation of this block.
2014 was the year that the much-needed safety renovation of the Karlsplatz building group was intensified by the building owner, BIG.
Once building had begun (at the end of 2013) with the construction of an escape route between courtyards 2 and 4, the Zwischentrakt (AH) intermediate block was then renovated around lecture theatre 7. At the same time, the relevant user information was included in the Faculty Councils of Architecture and Planning, and Civil Engineering.
Building work on the Lammtrakt block first began at the start of summer. In autumn 2014, the expansions and conversions for the lift installation started next to staircase 2 in courtyard 3.
The first stage in the general renovation of the main building on Karlsplatz started in 2007 and involved restoring and restructuring the avant-corps in line with the main entrance. The entrance hall on the ground floor was made user friendly, bright and welcoming, whilst the auditorium was extended on both sides to include spaces with vaulted ceilings. This is also where the new information box was set up. The work also included the addition of a large foyer area on the first floor, opposite the Festsaal ceremonial hall, which significantly enhanced the appeal of the Festsaal and Boecklsaal reception rooms for meetings.
The most impressive improvement to the level of space on offer was made in the dome on the fourth floor. The dome area had previously been divided by an unlit walkway only 2.5 m high, with one side split into several small offices and the other a temporary art studio for architecture students. After demolishing the installations from the 1950s, a beautiful domed hall was built as part of the renovation work in 2007 (as per the report on the inventory valuation by Prof. DDI Winter, architects Nehrer + Medek und Partner ZT GmbH together with Neumayer), which has facilitated a whole host of different uses ever since (including as an art room, an exhibition area, a lecture hall for 240 people and a function room). Dating back almost 200 years, the wooden structure of the room – known as the 'De L’Ormschen Sichtbogenbinder' – has exposed, curved trusses and a mansard roof. This was retained in the renovation work and lends the interior its unmistakable appearance.
This space provides TU Wien with a function room measuring 25 m x 22 m, which reaches over 10 m high at its apex. The entire renovation project (including the avant-corps and the new domed hall) was completed at the start of the 2009/2010 winter semester.
TU Wien made the decision to open a nursery for the children of TU staff in the Ödenburg (AQ) building located at Wiedner Hauptstraße 9. This two-stage development saw the old building renovated and adapted to accommodate five groups. Children are looked after here by members of the 'Kinder in Wien' association on behalf of TU Wien.
In 2013, TU’s company nursery was expanded to add an additional group on the ground floor of the AP building. The handover and launch came in right on time at the start of the 2013/14 winter semester.
On 18 December 2014, a new parent-baby zone was opened right next to the TU nursery at Wiedner Hauptstraße 9, after renovating and adapting the former TU print shop. The facilities and infrastructure are ideal for young children and offer practical support with combining work, education and family life.
TU Wien is the first Austrian university to offer its members this type of support when it comes to childcare.
The premises of a former printing company (on the corner of Resselgasse 5 and Wiedner Hauptstraße) were taken over by TU Wien in the 2011/12 winter semester. Within a turnaround time of just three months, the required adaptation and renovation work was completed to transform this building into a multifunctional break-out room and service space.
What was once a dated room, measuring 120 m2, is now a state-of-the-art new space.
While the TU Corner building had been used as a festivities office for the 200th anniversary celebrations, it will be at the disposal of the TU Wien Alumni Club going forward. Once the necessary adaptation work is complete, the service operations are set to start in summer.
The former caretaker’s accommodation is now home to a kitchenette, a storeroom and a disabled toilet.
Its central location makes it an ideal space for providing information and advice to prospective or current students, or even for hosting meetings (such as panel discussions or book launches). What’s more, depending on what else is going on, the spaces can also be used for activities that run alongside lectures (including exhibitions and presentations).