Where stage-sets and scenery pieces once emanated from the four-story tall caverns of the Semper Depot, now stand a media lab, photo studio, and three seminar rooms forart students. The project inserts five free-standing pavilions into the vast open loftsdesigned by Gottfried Semper and Carl Hasenauer in 1876. While capturing and enclo- sing space, the pods dissolve into the building’s interior spaces.
Though the last stage-set constructed there was in the 1950s, the Semper Depotremains largely unchanged: Its characteristic dense field of six meter tall cast-ironcolumns and massive window screens were conserved in the building renovationfifteen years ago, after the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna began renting the space forstudents. Perforated by the cast iron columns, the pods’ trapezoidal geometry reacts to the building’s foot-print, a triangle with one sheared vertex. Their intricate wood sur- faces play on gradients of light and shadow, and suggest a malleability of the building’swood planks which form both floor and ceiling.
All five pavillions are variations derived from a common prototype yet adapt to specific spatial condition and user user needs by integrating furniture profiles such as benches,workstations and storage into the outer skin of the pods. Assembeled from approxima- tely 7,600 singular elements the parametric design and digital fabrication process allow for a hight degree of differentiation at equal cost to serial manufacturing.
The construction alludes to Gottfried Semper’s Bekleidungstheorie - his theoretical work on the origin of the wall evolving from textiles (etymologically, German ‘Wand‘ and Gewand’‘) and the nomadic tradition of weaving that collapses structure, function and ornament into one.