Asemic Forest at Vienna’s Westbahnhof Train Station

Shahira Hammad
Master’s thesis – 2012 (M.Sc.)
Excessive Studio – University of Applied Arts Vienna (die Angewandte)
Thesis advisors: Hernan Diaz Alonso, Steven Ma

Architecture evolves and pushes boundaries when it attempts to breathe new life into a place often fallen into dismay. Such was the mission of Shahira Hammad, who on presenting her final thesis at the University of Applied Arts of Vienna (otherwise known as, die Angewandte), attempts to do just that: reimagine the city’s Westbahnhof train station.

Building upon the site’s existing structure, Hammad’s objective is to contrast the highly urbanized area with a design inspired by wild nature.

Aware of the perceived chaos that disorder and excess can generate, she rebutes the idea and leans upon the notion of spontaneous order.

Spontaneous order is a notion that exists in physiology, biology, economics, etc. It generally refers to the emergence of various kinds of hierarchical orders that result from the interaction of self-interested actors over time.

Regardless, the term has been used to describe many systems that have evolved from esteemed chaos: the universe, the internet, language, evolution of life of Earth, free market economy, etc. Nature is no exception and spontaneous order can occur at any scale.

Hammad seeks to reevaluate the urban fabric as having become a hyper-rationalized space, the opposite of the natural world, inflexible in time, and as a result, vulnerable to becoming obsolete in a world of constant evolution.

The hypothesis explores form generation and spatial composition with the use of organic, living matter in an otherwise static built environment.

By integrating nature’s most adaptable feature, resiliency, she solves the inevitable problem in conventional architecture: decay. In the project, decay is offset by growth. Ugliness is offset by beauty. The building regenerates and grows with time and history.

The multilayered body of structure, enclosure and landscape is in constant metamorphosis, mimicking the characteristics of other natural relationships that have failed to permeate the traditional built environment.

Tower metamorphosis. Click and hold to rotate model.