The 60 hectare area of the former KDAG cable factory, known as Kabelwerk, was subject to an urbanistic competition in 1998. Based on its results, an award-winning cooperative planning process generated a zoning and development plan with innovative features, such as the definition of public areas instead of buildings, reservation of the buildings base level for public functions, specification of structural units with a maximum cubature, a maximum height and build-on obligations. In 2002, a working group of 6 architectural teams was formed and commissioned to design the public housing buildings in the new urban quarter.
The Poolhaus residential building, with a usable floor area of 11,000 sq.m., is situated at the northern edge of the new quarter’s central square. It is composed of two functional units, each one made accessible with an ample stair hall, and, in addition, connected with each other on every floor. The western part contains 39 flats for the standard Austrian. The other, larger part of the building, oriented towards the square, comprises 213 ready-furnished apartments for temporary living, permeated by public and semi-public shared facilities. Among these there are communal kitchens, hobby rooms, a laundry, a sauna and an open air swimming pool with spacious roof terrace and lawn for sunbathing. On ground floor there is an adequate share of rentable areas for retail and gastronomy to give room to urban life.
Because some of the shared facilities, namely pool, sauna and fitness area, can be used by all residents of Kabelwerk, Poolhaus is the quarters most public building. Hence, the large stair hall is conceived as a public lane. It crosses the ground level from north to south and constitutes the entrée, not only for the people living in the building but also for the visitors of the communal facilities on the topmost levels. The hall is dominated by a tube of staircases, which on the one hand is a fire escape for the leisure facilities and on the other hand encourages communication between the residents.
Actually, particular attention was paid to the communication areas, in regard to their design and equipment as well as to their location. Thus, for instance, the laundry, usually tucked away somewhere in the basement, enjoys a prime location with a beautiful view on the 6th floor.