At last: 7 June 2021 saw this brand new multifunctional building on the mdw Campus officially given over to its intended purpose in a festive open-air event.

The mdw’s Future Art Lab, completed during the summer of 2020 and occupied just in time for last year’s winter semester, finally experienced its festive opening on 7 June 2021. This new building, constructed for Austria’s federal property manager Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG) as the principal and owner, is a multifunctional centre for teaching, art, and research on the mdw Campus. Designed by the architects Pichler and Traupmann, the Future Art Lab provides four departments with top-notch infrastructure for university-level teaching, and its Concert Hall, Sound Theatre, and Arthouse Cinema open up a multitude of possibilities for artistic practice and public events. At the grand opening, which had to be rescheduled for this past June due to the pandemic and was held as a small open-air event, mdw Rector Ulrike Sych highlighted the Future Art Lab’s “optimal combination of aesthetics and functionality”: “This work of architectural art enlivens our campus and encourages dialogue. It enables us to offer our students world-class infrastructure, and I’m especially looking forward to the synergies that will arise between the individual departments.”

Maximilian Pammer (BIG) presents mdw Rector Ulrike Sych with a symbolic key to the Future Art Lab © Daniel Hinterramskogler

The architects Christoph Pichler and Johann Traupmann provided an impressive explanation of the process by which their design came together, a process aimed at having various semantic layers overlap in the interplay between form and function. “The Future Art Lab allowed us to experience this interrelationship’s complexity in a way that’s otherwise rare—and so we accepted the challenge of developing this building as something that can be experienced holistically and simultaneously embodies a stratified whole”, say the architects. With its net floor space of 6,200 m2, the Future Art Lab now provides a home to the Department of Piano as well as to the Department of Composition, Electroacoustics, and Tonmeister Education. Chamber music and early music students likewise use these new spaces, and the mdw’s Artistic Research Center (ARC) has also moved in. Last but not least, last autumn saw Film Academy Vienna occupy its new departmental spaces in the direct vicinity of their film studios, and the Film Academy can now also boast its own cinema for the first time ever.

In his address at the opening, Austria’s Federal Minister of Education, Science, and Research Heinz Faßmann expressed his delight at this enhancement of Vienna as a city of university-level education and the arts: “The mdw numbers among the foremost universities of its kind worldwide. And the Future Art Lab represents a further successful step in the mdw’s efforts to provide both students and faculty with optimum conditions for artistic and academic work at the highest level.”

© Stephan Polzer

The Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft invested approximately EUR 24 million in this new structure, whose construction lasted around two years. From top to bottom, it measures nearly 30 metres—including 12 metres underground. Maximilian Pammer, who heads the BIG’s university-related activities, describes this new structure as “the capstone of a campus development project that the BIG has spent the past 20 years pursuing together with the mdw and the Ministry. And the Future Art Lab also stands out in terms of climate protection: geothermal heating and concrete core cooling are used to control indoor temperatures, with waste heat used to produce energy.”

Cinematic tour of the Future Art Lab at YouTube:

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