The Nofrontiere studio. A truly never-ending building site. Over the years a labyrinthine agglomeration of rooms behind the facade of Zinckgasse 20-22 were randomly integrated to host a growing multimedia company. The architecture is a temporal succession, a process of juxtaposition, superimposition, and contradiction. Constantly confronted with that which already exists, it is an amalgam of adaptation and rejection, visible in the ten years of different phases of construction and experimentation. To inform the extension of the existing studio (black in floor plan), investigations first explored (idealistically) the dynamic identity, diverse work rituals, and the ever-changing needs of this growing company. Could a responsive architecture be designed to accommodate the unpredictable future of self-described multimedia multimaniacs? Ultimately, no. Throughout the two-year design-build process, many concepts for flexible infrastructures and mobile working models were discarded for material gestures and formal metaphors.

 


DESIGN SKETCHES

Recycled Austrian bricks articulate existing outer walls in the courtyard while wood panels mark newly built walls before they become old. Strategically placed openings in the walls allow overlapping views across the central courtyard, improving the internal communication between the spaces while also providing natural light. Through the displacement of the opening windows from movement paths to avoid collisions, window boxes protrude like retro-television screens onto the courtyard, metaphors of screen-orientation. We experimented with how to invoke the vitality of new interface technologies such as holographic presentation screens without neutralizing the material qualities of the construction.

 

In retrospect, the identity and organization of Nofrontiere proved to be too fleeting and unpredictable for the architecture to respond to, sometimes for the better, often for the worse. Other manifestations driven by the research and experience include the publication "In the Place of Coincidence" (Berlin: Gingko Press, 2000), the internal discussion platform NF[Lab]yrinth, and other unrealized interventions such as a concept for the NF website and an interactive facade proposal.

 

Studio conception, design, and realization with Axel Schmitzberger in a freelance collaboration with Nofrontiere Design.