The design.build studio at Vienna University of Technology offers students the opportunity to experience the different stages of a small, but real building project: From the initial design sketch to the development of models and detailed drawings, all the way through the actual construction process to the final appropriation of the built result.
The project based learning method fosters learning in a very immediate way: within the project students have a hands-on building experience, where they can learn a lot about building techniques and detailing, how to deal with the budget, schedule and unexpected obstacles, as well as to work in collaboration with others and communicate with real clients, prospective users, local authorities, consultants and material suppliers. The immediate goal of the design-build-studio is not only to build architecture, but rather to give students the possibility to evaluate the quality of their thinking against the constraints of the real world and to understand the implications of their decisions in a broader context.
Founded by Peter Fattinger in 2000 at the University`s Institute of Architecture and Design, the Design Build Studio has been realizing a big variety of different projects:
In the early years the studio was focusing primarily on designing, building and operating temporary installations for the urban public space in Austrian cities.
In 2003 the studio undertook its first design-build project in South Africa, a day-care-center for people with disabilities, designed and constructed by the students, for a small local NGO. Starting as a single endeavor in the township Orange Farm, at the outskirts of Johannesburg it turned out to be the pilot-project for a series of socially engaged building-projects, realized by various European architecture schools in South Africa. More than 40 projects, primarily kindergartens and schools have been designed and implemented there so far, by universities from Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Slovenia.
Invited by Austrian NGO Caritas in 2007, the studio also had the possibility to design and build a multipurpose hall for an orphanage on the Indonesian island Nias, which was heavily hit by the tsunami and earthquake in 2004.
From 2008 on the studio concentrated its building-activities back to Austria, doing mainly permanent projects for social institutions like Parkbetreuung or Caritas.
The most recent project, the “Mobile Urban Lab”, was commissioned by the own faculty. The studio designed and built a mobile structure for lectures, workshops, exhibitions, which was based on used, converted shipping containers.