Cannibalism of course is a gruesome occurrence, whereby human or animal is eating one’s own species. In a completely different context of the present day, term “cannibalization” stands for a cunning marketing strategy whereby a company appears to be competing against itself but actually is increasing its share of the market. Typically, this is done with the launching of a new product which will harm all companies in the market, but more so other companies than the one who has launched it. In other words, the cannibalization in the marketing implies reduction of sales volume of one product as a result of the introduction of a new product by the same producer. Now, we would like to propose a transposition of the concept of cannibalization into the realm of architecture and urban design, as a strategy of spatial adaptability and as a model for the gradual conversion of the large commercial warehouses occupying remote but well connected lots along the highways of virtually all European cities, into the mixed used developments. By the cannibalism in architecture, we mean gradual eating into to the purely commercial and car dominated zones by their own initiators with an intention to introduce housing programme. The proposed models stipulates the following: To maintain commercial warehouses on the ground level as they are; to convert their roofs into the green courtyards accessible –only to the residents; to create a closed housing blocks of 5-6 stories on top of the commercial warehouses and thus create a noise-shield with the built volume to protect the internal courtyard; and finally to create a range of housing units each dually oriented to benefit from the panoramic view of the northern Vienna on one side and access to the semi public space in the interior of the block on the other. The proposed model anticipates active involvement of the large corporations who may recognise the opportunity to benefit from better use of their own assets and would team up with developers or housing groups. The project will explore unlikely scenario of attracting attention of large chain store owners, such as Ikea, OBI, Metro, Auchan, Decatlon to name the few, to become partners in the participatory model of multiuse developments.
The proposed strategy of Cannibalism¹ is based on the spatial adaptability and on the model of gradual conversion of the large outlet parks and purely commercial zones into the mixed use environments. Proposed intervention is structured as a set of nine actions (A to I) rather than as a finished master plan. The project is presented as a process of adaptation that takes place in a complex environment over the period of approximately thirty years.
a. Year 2013: Cannibalism¹ begins (with the arrival of the first tram)
How can we start eating away from the parking lots of the solely commercial areas and initiate development of other uses including housing? How can we create an effect of a new high street, a vibrant, pedestrian friendly and attractive environment? The route of Gewerbepark Strasse continuing into Zwerchackerweg, has the potential to become the main channel of movement for cars, pedestrians and bicycles through the study area. The project explores the possibility of enhancing the environment by providing more amenities along this route. What we recognise as a “Fine Dining Club” comprised of a several existing stands, including those for hot dogs, quick chicken and American burgers, will be better designed to become an important feature along the route. Kiosk morphology will be adapted to become architecture which supports pedestrian movement and public life at the new high street. Insertion of a dozen more of such elements is envisaged along the route. In contrast to the character of the existing kiosks, new ones could follow the lead of about to open Aida coffee shop located at the foot of the new tram stop. In the long process of the evolution of the existing outlet centre into the mixed use environment, new shops and stands as the very first consequences of the arrival of the public transportation to the site are seen as sparks of life. New kiosks will bring diverse amenities and greater choice of supplies and services to visitors and soon to be residents. Proposed intervention suggests the loss of a small percentage of the parking space to gain more pedestrian attractive environment
b. Year 2013: Area between the railway and the highway is not impermeable
How can we connect to the surrounding environment of the given site and benefit from its unexpectedly rich contents? In addition to the new tram line, scheduled to open this year, which will provide for a quick and easy movement across the rail and the highway, the route of Gewerbepark Strasse continuing into Zwerchackerweg is seen as a primary and most obvious connection to the surrounding fabric of the Kagran area on the West and recreational facilities on the East side. Although it is stretching parallel with the highway and the rail, new high street will play an important role in the integration of the entire project into the surrounding environment, simply because it is connecting Breitenleer Strase and Hirschstettner Strase, the only two established ways of crossing the existing barriers to pedestrian ways in and out of the project site. By placing emphasis on the pedestrian and bicycle movement along this route, we can help integration of the area currently cut off with the rail and the highway into the surrounding environment. At the same time, providing infrastructure for pedestrian circulation along this street we can help integration between the new development at the project site and the rest of the Outlet Centre. This will be the main pedestrian access from the new tram stop to the proposed housing development.
c. Year 2014: Long term decontamination
What are the prospects of the empty and contaminated lot in the northern part of the study site? Inevitably, it will take time and most likely some finance to unlock the potential of the large contaminated lot, labelled as a former Mobil Oil area. Assuming low and moderate level of presence of hydrocarbons and other man-made chemicals in the ground, since oil dumping has stopped long time ago and strategy of polluted ground water management has already been put in place, we propose immediate and low cost intervention, comprised of the removal of the thin surface layer of the soil and introduction of plants and microbes which are capable of digesting hazardous materials over time in a process known as bioremediation. Willow trees and several species of crops are known to be particularly effective in this respect. This way we can assume that over a certain number of years or even decades, former Mobil Oil area may become a polygon for natural expansion of the processes which are staring now at the project site. Until then newly created green zone will immediately contribute to better quality of the air and in the midterm it could become a park accessible to the increasing number of residents in the area.
d. Year 2015: More commercial warehouses erected
What is the first step in developing a long term strategy for the project site? In parallel with the decontamination of the northern part of the study site, the very first step in the development of the project site envisages the extension of commercial facilities and continuation of what is now recognized as a profitable and functioning retail strategy. Three new warehouses are to be erected, mimicking the size and form of the buildings, already existing at the Outlet Park. Provision of the parking spaces and extension of the road system will be done simultaneously. Three new warehouses may be leased to individual stores or may be s shared by several occupants. Such extension of the existing Outlet Park is foreseen as an integral part of the strategy of cannibalisation¹ whereby a segment of commercial facilities will be gradually eaten away by other uses, namely housing and amenities. By the end of the year 2015, the construction of the first housing block could start.
e. Year 2017: The first housing block is completed
Three newly erected warehouses on the project site are envisaged as three platforms from which further development can take place. The idea builds upon utopias developed in early sixties (Isozaki, Cluster in the Air 1962 and Jonas, Intrapolis 1963). Half a century ago, it was highly implausible to build any of them but at the present time such ideas could be reconsidered to provide an operative response to the set of hostile and convoluted conditions found on site in Kagran. The proposed model is chosen to enable adaptive strategy of urbanisation in the form of the gradual insertion of housing into the purely commercial and car dominated zone. It stipulates the following: To maintain commercial warehouses on the ground level as they are; to convert their roofs into the green courtyards accessible only to the residents; to create a closed housing blocks of 5-6 stories on top of the commercial warehouses and thus create a noise-shield with the built volume to protect the internal courtyard; and finally to create a range of housing units each dually oriented to benefit from the panoramic view of the northern Vienna on one side and access to the semi public space in the interior of the block on the other.
Each of the warehouses is linked to a single phase of the development, which could unfold simultaneously or sequentially. Proposed strategy anticipates involvement of at least three separate developers. By the year 2017 the first housing block could be nearing completion and construction of the second one could be on the way. In the same year, construction of the new highway node is scheduled and better traffic connection to the developing East part of Vienna will be established.
f. Year 2018: The second housing block is completed
The first residents are moving into the block A. The block B is nearing completion and construction of the block C is on the way. Occurrence of the first residents on the project site generates more pedestrian traffic across the outlet park and more small scale amenities are popping up on the parking lots. On the other side of the study area, at the former Mobil Oil lot, willow trees and crops are starting to produce first but still invisible effects of the bioremediation.
g. Year 2021: The third housing block is completed
By now all three housing blocks are complete. Construction noise is finally over and residents are settling in. Each housing blocks benefits form its own courtyard shared between its residents. At the same time, another stretch of public space is provided at the altitude of 22 meters above the ground level to establish internal connection between all three housing blocks. Social ties are being established at different levels such as: Between adjacent flats; among the residents whose apartments are sharing the same courtyard; and finally within the entire neighbourhood comprised of the three blocks. Leasing contracts for the warehouses at the ground level could come to an end by now. Previously commercial facilities could now lend themselves to other uses. Together with the first level of the housing blocks, they could give room to necessary amenities including a school or a kindergarten.
h. Year 2025: Cannibalism¹ incidents to occur at the study area
If proved to be a success, housing development at the project site could initiate further eating into the solely commercial zone. The construction of the housing blocks on top of the existing warehouses in the study area could follow. As an example, after the three blocks erected at the project site, a building occupied by Heravis Sports could present one such opportunity for the construction of the new housing block according to the same principles. Proposed model anticipates active involvement of the large corporations who may recognise the opportunity to benefit from better use of their own assets, and will team up with developers or housing groups. Another opportunity for the far sighted management of corporate assets could be nearby Baumax building. We could even anticipate that more commercial buildings will become platforms for the development of the housing blocks in this Outlet Park. Or in other Outlet Parks? The question raised is: How can we move planning authorities and attract attention of large chain store owners, such as Ikea, OBI, Metro, Auchan, Decatlon to name the few, to become partners in the participatory models of multiuse developments, developed in this project under the name of Cannibalisation¹?
i. Year 2030: More cannibalism to take place in decontaminated area
If decontamination processed proved its worth, if after two decades of hard work, willow trees, crops and microorganism have managed to decompose harmful chemicals in the soil, the former Mobile Oil area might open up as a new majestic recreational grounds. In the more distant future, as there are plenty of recreational grounds located a single stop away on the public transportation operating since long past year 2013, the former Mobile Oil area could allow for further growth and erection of several more mixed use housing blocks according to the Cannibalisation¹ model.
¹Note: In the context of this project the term “cannibalism” is used as a conceptual framework transposed from a form of social deviation via marketing into architecture and urban design, as an adaptive strategy of gradual eating into the solely commercial areas and inserting housing to achieve mixed use environments. The term is used interchangeably with the term “cannibalisation”.
credits///design: 4of7///Kristina Arsic, Milutin Cerovic, Djordje Stojanovic ///