I once listened to Mr. Hsun Chiang’s speech at TEDx Taipei 2012 on YouTube about how you should leave 18 minutes to yourself every day. Indeed, on busy days, we forget to leave time for ourselves, or for a poem. There are often unavoidable things that make us unable to slow down, and that gradually suppress our desire for life. I have been in that situation, and I couldn’t even drink a cup of tea, or enjoy its fragrance. Later, I made the decision to change my lifestyle, leaving myself 20 minutes a day. Have a cup of tea or coffee and feel the environment with five senses like a child.
Mr. Hsun Chiang, a Chinese-Taiwanese artist, mentioned that most Asians are used to eating at round tables, but that round tables are not common in Western countries. When the circle becomes a desire of national culture, it is because there is too much incompleteness and suffering in life, and the circle represents resistance to that incompleteness. There are too many wars and exiles, so refugees especially understand the longing for roundness and stability.
When I was studying at the University of Vienna, two of my classmates were refugees from the war in the former Yugoslavia. Because of the war the whole family had to go into exile, and the family members were assigned to different countries in Europe. When the bombs came, they grabbed their passports and ran away, giving up everything they remembered. So, refugees especially understand the desire for home and stability.
At the end of 2015, many refugees surged into Vienna due to the Syrian war. When I heard my brother went to the train station as a volunteer to carry water bottles to refugees, I asked myself what I could do as an architect.
At that time, the temporary shelters for refugees in Austria were full, and the Austrian government provided free trains to let refugees heading to North-West Europe get on the road. In May 2016, the City of Vienna began its “Rapid Housing Programme” (Sofortwohnbau-Programm), commissioning Mr. Aulinger, the chairman of the Austrian Architects’ Association, to design the first special temporary complex. The prerequisites were affordable construction costs and short construction time, as well as hardware equipment designed to allow refugees to live temporarily and also integrate into society. I joined the design team of the architectural firm Transcity to work on new, affordable housing complexes. The aim was to alleviate the housing shortage in growing cities.
These apartments are built in a systematic and lightweight structure. Since the site is only temporarily available (for a period of five to ten years), projects with high-quality building systems (for example, made of wood or lightweight concrete) can be completed in a shorter construction time. This is only half the construction time of traditional structures, and reduces costs. In this case, mobility and sustainability mean that after a plot of land is used, the building materials are reconstructed or recycled to other places according to their condition. The use of different building materials can provide the best tailor-made solutions for each plot, while also providing enough space for innovative and diverse buildings.
The project name is Home 21 because the base is located in the 21st district of Vienna, covering an area of about 14,000 square metres. It was originally industrial land, but due to special circumstances, it was granted a residential permit for a period of 10 years upon completion. The building should be used as a residential building during the first ten years of its life cycle, and then it must be convertible to a commercial building. Of course, this means a neutral design in use right from the start for later conversions. This in turn requires system design. In addition, the indoor height of each floor is 2.82 metres, which is higher than the 2.5 metres of ordinary apartments.
Therefore, in this project, the Slim-Building® system developed and patented by KALLCO was used. This innovative building system uses slender steel columns to connect directly to the reinforced concrete ceiling, and the exterior walls are not load bearing. This forms an open interior, which can be divided flexibly. Slim construction can cut the build time of the shell in half, and rapid assembly is a requirement for immediate residential use. Since manufacturing costs must not exceed € 1200 per square metre, the project must pay for itself within the next ten years. The saved construction time is also decisive for the profitability of the project.
The architectural language and the project’s materiality reflect the principles of the programme, the building system and economy. They harmonize the building’s structure, with the balconies, the facade and the ground floor usage. The frame of the balcony system is built out of simple, galvanized steel sections. Its verticals align with the axes of the SlimBuilding® system, and the pre-cast concrete balconies are laid upon its horizontal consoles. The balustrades are built out of coil-coated sheet aluminium in trapezoidal profile. The balconies can be set upon the consoles in two positions. This generates a rhythmic counterpoint to the strict order of the system’s grid. The play of colour between the red-rendered facade and the gold tones of the balconies lends the architectural composition warmth and interest.
Home21 has a total of 241 state-funded short-term rental houses. The ground floor is made up of car parking spaces, rooms for bicycles and baby strollers, small studios, small handicraft workshops, public laundry rooms, storage rooms, children’s play areas, green spaces and activity centres. The entire project started in January 2017 and was completed in March 2018. The prefabricated assembly method shortened the construction period to 15 months.
Compact but well-organized apartments are mainly provided for people with limited income. Socially disadvantaged ethnic groups are also considered when renting. No down payments are required, and the rent, including operating costs and VAT, is € 7.50 per square metre. Furniture rents are € 0.80 per square metre, as most units include the option to rent kitchens and furniture. A Red Cross Counselling Mother and Child Centre (Caritas Haus Frida) has been established on the first floor of the north-west wing, and a Caritas co-housing for seniors and homeless people has been set up in the south-east section (Caritas WG).
The desire for home is a basic human need. Since my childhood, I have always heard that home is a safe harbour. No matter what happens outside, home is a place where we can get comfort and feel safe. The smell of cooking at home, the voice of the family, the plants and furniture make up our memories of home.
Mr. Hsun Chiang said that love can be shown by sharing joy, but can also be shown by sharing suffering. I hope that those who live in Home 21 (especially refugees) can find the feeling of home. A place where they can satisfy the craving for home.
Often I wonder what the meaning of an architect is? I thought that when we completed the design in two months, there was no such thing as a quality of life. Looking back, I think I may just be a hopeless idealist. I did not want just a hollow shell, but to create a space of home where people can live comfortably.
I hope that I can create more affordable and comfortable social housing in the future and satisfy more people’s desire for home.
P.S. 1. Home 21 was named the 2019 Social Housing Winner by Architecture Masterprize.
P.S. 2. Home 21 passed the Austrian Climate Active Gold rating and meets sustainable building standards.
對家的渴望– Home 21
有一次在Youtube聽蔣勳先生在TEDx Taipei 2012 演說留十八分鐘給自己。的確在忙碌的日子中我們忘了留時間給自己或一首詩，常有不得已的事情讓自己沒有辦法慢活，漸漸地壓抑自己對生活的渴望。我自己也曾經在那個情況，連喝一杯茶都無法好好感受茶香。後來我自己做了決定要改變自己的生活型態，每天留20分鐘給自己。 喝杯茶或咖啡，重新像孩子一樣用五官感受環境。
蔣勳先生提到亞洲大部分都習慣坐圓桌吃飯, 但在西方國家圓桌是不常見的。當圓成了民族文化的一種渴望, 是因為生命中有太多的殘缺和苦難, 是一種對殘缺的對抗。有太多的戰爭和流亡, 所以難民特別懂得對圓及安定的渴望。
我在維也納大學求學時有兩位同學是來自前南斯拉夫戰爭下的難民, 因為戰爭全家流亡到全歐洲, 還被分配到不同的國家。當炸彈來時, 拿了護照就逃命, 必須放棄一切所有回憶的東西。所以難民特別懂得對家及安定的渴望。
當時在奧地利的難民暫時收容所大爆滿, 奧地利政府提供免費火車讓想到西北歐的難民上路。2016年五月時維也納市政府開始即時住屋計劃, 委託奧地利建築師公會的理事長奧林格先生(Aulinger)設計第一個特別的暫時複合式建築。先決條件是實惠的建造費用及很短的建造時間，還有設計讓拿到難民身分的人可以暫時居住也可以融入社會的硬體設備。我加入了建築師事務所Transcity的設計團隊, 研究新型的可負擔集合住宅。目的是在緩解不斷發展的城市中的住房短缺問題。
緊湊但井井有條的公寓主要提供給收入有限的人。租房時也考慮了社會弱勢族群移。不需要自有資金，租金包括運營成本和增值稅為7.50歐元/平方公尺。家具租金為每平方公尺0.80歐元，因為大多數單位都租用廚房和家具。西北翼樓的一樓已建立了一個紅十字會輔導的母子中心(Caritas Haus Frida)，東南區則設有一個老年及街友生活輔助之家 (Caritas WG)。
對家的渴望，是人類基本的需求。從小都聽人說， 家是避風港 ，不論外面發生什麼事， 家是我們可以得到慰藉, 感到安全的地方。家裡煮飯的味道，家人的聲音，家中的植物和家具，構成了我們對家的記憶。
蔣勳先生說過，愛是喜悅可以分享、愛是苦難可以分擔。我很希望住進Home 21 的人(尤其是難民)可以找到家的感覺, 在那可以滿足游子對家的渴望。
常常我在想建築師的意義在那裡? 想當初我們在兩個月完成設計圖，根本沒有所謂的生活品質。回頭看, 我覺得我可能只是一個無可救藥的理想主義者。不是只蓋一個空殼而已, 而是想創造一個家的空間, 有人能夠舒適生活的地方。期許自己以後能創造更多可負擔的舒適社宅, 滿足更多人對家的渴望。
附註 1. Home 21 被Architecture Masterprize 評省為2019社會住宅得主
附註 2 . Home 21 審核通過奧地利氣候活躍金等級, 達到永續建築標準