Architectural Concept for Musicians

Starting from the special needs of a specific user group, an Architectural Concept for Musicians will be proposed and realized, with Housing as principal functional usage.

Short Description




The current discussion regarding innovative planning and construction should address the issues of Inner-City Densification (which offers significant potential for economizing energy consumption), Sociological Considerations, such as functional programming and usage layering, and the hitherto rarely considered aspects of living comfort such as Ambient Humidity or Room Acoustics.


Starting from the special needs of a specific user group, an Architectural Concept for Musicians will be proposed and realized, with Housing as principal functional usage. In addition, the concept should integrate other functions open to outside users (such as work places, student housing, guest suites, assembly and event spaces) into the program.

Through the layering of usage and functions, the building will act as both a node and an impulse within the urban fabric; it should possess an urban permeability.

The concept addresses three user groups: resident musicians, district and neighborhood residents and exceptional national and international user groups.

Musicians have been chosen as target group due to the fact that their life and work style manifest certain trends that will be increasingly representative of future urban lifestyle problematics:

  • flexible work schedules
  • late hour activities
  • increasingly overlapping of living and working
  • increasing acoustic sensitization of the urban population

Points of Emphasis

  1. A building's energy efficiency is a function of its site and its context.
  2. Investigation into ecologically friendly treatment of ambient humidity in the principal spaces.
  3. Posing the question: what is acoustic comfort? Investigating the role that room acoustics plays in the production of a holistic concept of housing quality.
  4. Investigation into the acoustic properties of ecologically friendly building materials.

Project Goal

  1. Design of an innovative architectural concept for musicians
  2. Development of a pilot project for sustainable urbanity
  3. Detailed appraisal of room acoustics and ambient humidity in housing.

Methods and Data

User Profiles, Program Brief

The data has been researched on basis of authors own inquiries using three methods:
1. general questionnaire, 2. one-to-one interviews, 3. workshops with user representatives.
Method: quantitative, empirical investigations cross-referenced with qualitative field investigation.

Ecological Humidification of Living Spaces

In cooperation with biologists, project specific data on the effective humidification of plants has been gathered. Data on internal humidity sources in residential housing have been drawn in part from the author's own inquiry and in part from published sources. Humidity behavior for all research areas has been investigated using the TRNSYS software program.

Acoustic Properties of Ecological Materials

Data has been gathered through author's own inquiry in conjunction with the material manufacturers,
Method of the Material Investigation: absorption measurement in echo chamber and airborne acoustic measurement.

What is Acoustical Comfort

A qualitative field survey was carried out; in addition, six different residential units were inspected and measured empirically for reverberation.

Results and Conclusions

User Profile, Program Brief

The proposal's chosen 3-method approach to inquiry (1. general questionnaire, 2. one-to-one interviews, 3. workshops with user representatives) is a result-oriented approach for an integrated investigation of both the targeted user group profile and the requirements placed upon the program brief. It is, however, important to note that the different methods of investigation need to be coordinated, as partial results from one method will provoke questions relevant to the others. The process should accompany the project's planning phase, however it is to be expected that the intensity of investigation will diminish as the planning progresses. The evaluation of the of the previous results have shown that it would be sensible to double the size of the project as presently constituted, as the present size of the project will allow the assembly hall to be realized only through the additional public funding or sponsor-based financing.

Environmentally Friendly Ambient Humidification


It can be shown that housing units employing air infiltration heat recovery systems accumulate sufficient moisture for maintaining 40% level of relative humidity even in winter. Since the evaporation of water requires energy, it is in any case sensible to strive for optimized moisture retention. Note that humidity deficit affects the bedrooms exclusively; new methods might be developed for the movement of moisture within the housing unit.

By equal energy efficiency, the attainment of a comfortable distribution of the air mass becomes more difficult by low unit utilization, by low moisture-load accumulation, or when large variations in the usage-mix of the space occur. It can be shown that the movement of large volumes of air of the course of the average day can be achieved through relatively simple means.

Conclusion: in order to optimize both air mass and moisture distribution using mechanical ventilation systems, conventional air-supply, air-flow and exhaust strategies should be reconsidered, moisture sinks should be strategically placed and the plan structure of the space tested for suitability.

Offices and practice rooms

Humidification by means of a botanical puffer (indoor plantings) is a intelligent solution for all spaces exhibiting a relative constant occupation and moisture loads, such as practice rooms or offices. Ambient humidity can be held at over 40% even in winter, and the fluctuation between maximum and minimum levels can be markedly reduced. The processes through which interior plants emit water vapor are very complex and little researched. Effective results in densely built areas require thorough testing through scale daylight models. The glazed enclosures of the botanical puffer must be outfitted with an appropriate solar-control technology (fixed and/or movable shade elements, lighting, effective air and moisture exchange systems, warm air exhaust and overheating control as well as a well-planned systems control). Ongoing, professional gardening and plant maintenance is indispensable.

What is Acoustic Comfort

Acoustic comfort in housing situations is more than good acoustic intelligibility, orientation and fidelity for speech; an acoustically comfortable room must also offer low subjective perception of aural disturbances and background noise as well as the purely emotional feeling of balance, well-being and brightness. The reverberation time for interior residential spaces between 70 and 150m3 should be reduced between 0,1-0,2 seconds in comparison to the Önorm for speech.

Acoustic and Ecologically Friendly Materials

There exists little or no acoustically relevant data for many ecologically friendly materials. Conventional acoustic plastering systems (acoustically transparent render) cannot be effected using ecological materials. Adobe wattle-and-daub systems exhibit excellent acoustic as well as heat- and moisture-storage performance and therefore present an interesting alternative to conventional sound-damping plasterboard wall elements. Lambs wool has undergone absorption measurements and the material can be used for acoustic absorption and damping in architectural applications.

Project Partners

Projektleiter: Arch. Ursula Schneider
pos architekten
  • Arch. Dipl.Ing. Ursula Schneider, pos architekten
  • Arch. Dipl.Ing. Fritz Oett, pos architekten
  • Dipl.Ing. Dr.techn. Bernd Quiring, Quiring Consultants, Ingenieurbüro und Prüfanstalt für akustik und Bauphysik
  • Ing. Bernd Stampfl, Ökoplan, energietech. u.ökol. Beratungsgesellschaft mbH
  • Dipl. Ing. Thomas Zelger, IBO, Österreich. Institut für Baubiologie und Ökologie GmbH
  • Mag. Tscho Theissing, Musiker, Musikervertreter
  • Mag. Roland Meingast, Fa. Natur und Lehm
  • Dipl. Biol. Manfred Radtke, Ing.büro Radtke Biotechnik
  • Dipl. Ing.FH B. Häring, Ing.b. für pflanzenphysiol. Klimatechnik
  • Dipl. Ing. Klaus Pokorny, Pokorny Lichtarchitektur
  • Dr. Christine Volm, Ingenieurbüro für Grünraumplanung
  • Dipl. Ing. Helmut Lutz, Zivilingenieur für Bauwesen


pos architekten
Architekten Claire Poutaraud, Fritz Oettl, Ursula Schneider
Maria Treu Gasse 3/15
A 1080 Wien
Tel.: +43 1 4095265
Fax: +43 1 4095265/99