Universitätszentrum Althanstrasse

UZA

Location

Vienna, Austria

48.22927, 16.35894

Author

Karl Schwanzer, Kurt Hlaweniczka, Harry Glück, Thomas Reinthaller, Franz Requat

- Architects

Built in

1986

Over the last few years several plans for future uses, such as residential apartments, were put forward. During this process, the UZA 4 was sold to the real estate development group 6B47 Real Estate Investors AG, which also owns the nearby Franz-Josef-Bahnhof.

The Universitätszentrum (UZA) is situated north of the Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof railway station, part of a large housing complex covering the freight station. Today, the entire area consists of an urban development site some 2.4 hectares in size under the management of Municipal Department MA 21 Urban Planning and Zoning (Stadtteilplanung und Flächennutzung). A spatial model for further development was drawn up and implemented by the Stadtentwicklungskommission (STEK) in 2017, as part of a citizens’ participation scheme.

As the rear section of the complex, the Universitätszentrum—with its distinctive and expressive glass façade—was built between 1976 and 1982 to plans by the renowned architects Kurt Hlaweniczka, Karl Schwanzer, Harry Glück, Thomas Reinthaller and Franz Requat. It consists of four different sections, specifically UZA 1, UZA 2, UZA 3 and UZA 4. The last section was originally built as an office building for the post office service in 1986; it was incorporated into the Universitätszentrum in 2003.

For the next ten years, the Universitätszentrum was home to the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration (WU) and the Mathematics Faculty. When the WU relocated to Vienna’s Prater area in 2013, the building provided interim premises for other institutions like the Biology Centre (UZA 1), the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Boku), the Technical University (TU), the Academy for Applied Arts and the Geography and Pharmacy Centre of the University of Vienna (both in UZA 2).

Over the last few years several plans for future uses, such as residential apartments, were put forward. During this process, the UZA 4 was sold to the real estate development group 6B47 Real Estate Investors AG, which also owns the nearby Franz-Josef-Bahnhof. Between 2016 and 2018 the building was renovated and transformed into a 240 apartment building known as the Althan Park.

The three other buildings are still owned by the real estate company of the Republic of Austria, the Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG). UZA 3 was remodelled in 2015 to house Vienna’s Labour and Social Court (Arbeits- und Sozialgericht Wien). Due to ongoing space requirements UZA 1 and UZA 2 will function as interim premises at least until 2020. Future plans for renovation, demolition or rebuild remain vague. According to the owner, the two properties will continue to function as education centres.

Text by Joshua Koeb

Function

1986Public programme: university

2018 Mixed: transition quarter for various universities

Ownership

1986 Republik Österreich

2018 Republik Österreich, 6B47 Real Estate Investors AG

Condition

1986 Good

2018 Good

Property Management

1986 Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG)

2018 Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG)

Form of government

1986 Parliamentary Republic

2018 Parliamentary Republic

Spatial Planning Agency

1986

2018 MA 21 Stadtteilplanung und Flächennutzung

Type of heritage and protection

1986

2018 Not recognised as heritage

Interview with Josef R.

Local resident

Transcription
Yeah, yeah, sure. It took ten years to build. The whole wing here – 1960, 61 – no, hang on, later. Wait, it’s been ten years already, 1953, so around 1970, or a bit later. – The feeling was that, instead of the haulage depots, we’d be getting something positive. Inasmuch as there’d be some landscaping and irrigation. Yes, it was… it was nice. Except that it took ten years to build, and there was so much dirt everywhere. It’s what you expect with a building site like that, right? – The original university for… – what was it? The original business college or whatever it was called – anyway, they built it quite spacious, I think, for around 2,000 students and then, all of a sudden, with all the demand from the economic upturn, it simply became too small, and so they thought about re-building. Somewhere where the land was cheaper.

Interview with Tom S.

Pharmacist

Transcription
So, for me, that’s quite a lump of concrete. It doesn’t look particularly great. Plus I’m not quite sure how sensibly it’s being used. I think you’ve got three different universities in there. So, yes, I’m sure it could be put to better use. I think half of it is empty most of the time. Maybe for courses, or refugees, something like that. It’s been quite empty so far. – So I think it would cost a small fortune to pull it down and rebuild. I don’t know who would fund that if the City would fund it, but then other people who don’t have any money anyway end up paying for it all as usual. Of course, that would be another matter. But if you got it financed and got it costed with a sensible project proposal beforehand, and if you got some people on board – that would certainly make more sense to me.

Interview with Wolfgang E.

University assistant

Transcription
So, yes, great memories! Really good. An utterly anonymous university, but a really vibrant quarter. I miss that a bit because now it’s really all a bit dead. If there was a bit more life here and what have you, and a bit more variety, that would be a good thing somehow. You do have a few institutes coming in, but somehow the life you had back then has gone. – No, it would be good to have some sort of overall concept. So the whole area could evolve a bit more. I mean, it really is a great area of land that could be used somehow. But I’ve no idea what it would look like in practice. I really can’t say what would fit the bill here – but a bit more of something in any case. Perhaps a bit more for the public in general, like maybe some events, a venue, a location where you could have all sorts of events. Something along those lines perhaps. So the whole area here, the quarter, would have a bit more to offer.