University of Vienna Biology Building

New chances for research and teaching

The new University of Vienna Biology Building was developed on a plot of approximately 12 000 square metres located in the St. Marx quarter of Vienna’s third district and thus in the immediate neighbourhood, of the Vienna BioCenter, Austria‘s largest life-sciences cluster, to which the University of Vienna makes important contributions with its Center of Molecular Biology and the Max Perutz Labs.

Architects Marcel Backhaus and Karsten Liebner were awarded the contract for the new development in an international contest and were subsequently in charge of it in a consortium with Vasko+Partner.

With its brick cladding on a reinforced concrete structure, the Biology Building blends in well with the growing St. Marx quarter. From a two-storey plinth – consisting of five individual "building floes" – rises a four-storey compact longitudinal research building with an atrium and a shielded rooftop terrace. The main entrance is diagonally across from the Vienna BioCenter. `In all, BIG, commissioned by the University of Vienna, developed a useable area of almost 20 000 square metres. The building volume being concentrated in the western part of the plot testifies to the high consideration for the existing flats on Erne-Seder-Gasse street´, Hans-Peter Weiss, managing director of BIG, explains. The jury’s minutes give evidence of this: `To the east, the strict character of the building is dissolved by flat volumes which protrude into the open spaces, causing the building to intertwine with the outside (areas) in the style of a campus. The material used in the facades and its arrangement to form a brick cladding front is apt to confer on the university a clear identity and address in this place. As has been described by the author, the material establishes a connection with the adjacent old slaughterhouse premises.´ The library as well as the teaching, service, refectory, and administration areas are located on the plinth floors.

Christian Schwarz, deputy project manager with Vasko+Partner, outlines the challenges of the project: `The very complex technology and liaising with the various different authorities – from the labour inspectorate to the animal protection authority – constitute a great challenge. We design forward-looking workspaces with high-quality laboratory facilities.´ Rector Heinz W. Engl sees great potential in the fact that the Biology Building is located close to other research institutions: `The University of Vienna adds to the site with its nearly 500 academics and more than 5 000 students in the field of biology. With the development of its new Biology Building, one of the most comprehensive life-science clusters can be realized here in Vienna.´


Generalkonsulent Vasko+Partner
Client BIG/Universität Wien
Architecture Arge Biologiezentrum/Marcel Backhaus und Karsten Liebner/Vasko+Partner
Fotos: BIG/Bruno Klomfar, Fotos: BIG/Bruno Klomfar