A pre-concept design for an International NGO:  University, student campus, research and conference centre which focuses on human rights, peace and democracy, aiming to facilitate and educate students. The building concept is derived from our client’s vision to work worldwide with communities - to bring people together to promote positive change and provide a platform to access knowledge, while training future leaders from developing countries , who will drive change towards a brighter future.

Our response was to develop a bold architectural element; composed of three main threads that wrap around to generate the circle - a place of gathering, unity and exchange. The building form is thus conceived around the circular courtyard, the heart of the community, a gathering space to share, exchange and meet; where the main building activities pivot and weave around it.

A generous circular space will greet the visitor and set the tone directly relating to the University’s ethos and vision. Here, the heart of the project is filled with life, pumping social activity and consequently acting as a catalyst for the surrounding spaces.

University Campus for Human Rights, Vienna, 2020          
South Vienna, Austria
Collaborators: Nicos Yiatros
Render Visualisations by Ahad Almeida

The design is generous yet compact. A simple knot exercise of union. By celebrating the circular gesture, the building’s three main programmes are combined into one simple movement. The three threads weave the building into one beautiful unified organism.

This means that groundworks will be limited and that materials and forms will be coherent and part of one big whole making it economical to build and powerful to become an icon to which people can start relating to.
Another economic benefit of using sequential building is that it will allow for growth, meaning that the University can select which wings or linear programmes to start with and tune it to the financial strategy of the scheme. The relatively compact arrangement means a lower carbon footprint.

The gesture also allows for integrating the landscape and planting more trees on site. This can become part of the initial stages, an opportunity for the first students to contribute to the campus whilst becoming part of a positive group activity.

The three main programmes: campus, research centre and hotel accommodation, take the form of three threads which are interwoven around each other to generate the building diagram resulting in a bold yet simple concept, an iconic building yet human in scale and resolution.

This bold and clean gesture allows us to effortlessly weave the spaces together and allows for scalability and flexibility in the construction sequence – our client has the opportunity to choose to start from building one of the linear spaces and follow from there to complete the circular form.

In the centre, the heart of the campus becomes both a space for socialising and one for self-reflection; beautifully landscaped trees and vegetation which breathe life.

The garden will change with seasons and we are aiming to develop this further with activities and vegetation which will respond to the seasons – blooming in the spring and gently contracting in the winter.

The University campus, therefore, becomes an iconic figure highlighting the notion of unity, collaboration, sustainability and coming together.