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  • Asemic Forest

    Asemic Forest: Westbahnhof Train Station
    vienna AUSTRIA

    University of Applied Arts Vienna, Excessive postgraduate studio
    critic: hernan DIAZ ALONSO

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    shahira HAMMAD: This project represents my thesis for the “Excessive” postgraduate program at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, 2012. We were asked to envision a new train station for Vienna, one that would either modify or replace the existing Westbahnhof train station. I chose to keep the existing building, but to contaminate it with structures that would express a complexity that now is missing. My intervention was inspired both from Nature and Culture, and beyond its polemical characteristics it does intend to bring back what in science is called: Spontaneous Order.

    This is not disorder in the common sense, although it could have this appearance.

    It is, evidently, a reaction against excessive rationalism and rationalizations. Yes, it is excessive, but essentially it tries nothing else but to bring the complexities present in Nature into the urban fabric.

    In a way my “project” is not really a “project,” since I let what I envisioned come into being “naturally,” almost by itself, expressing not only outer realities, but also inner ones.

    We could say that maybe this is an Epimethean work, as opposed to being Promethean, that is, a work in which thought comes afterwards . . . so the relationship between cause and effect is circular, not linear…

    All in all this is an architectural meditation on Time as well, since the structures I envisioned do reflect metamorphosis, the passage of Time, change, ephemerality and even decay—again, themes neglected by conventional architectures.

    If chaos is deprived of its negative connotations maybe we will have again the chance to reach the positive aspects of what is called “spontaneous order.”

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    sH: Morphologies and behaviors of insects and plants, natural structures, spontaneous order in Nature, Hieronymus Bosch, Egon Schiele, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Joel-Peter Witkin, Vladimir Tatlin, Khepri, Art nouveau, Gothic art/architecture and Vienna.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    sH: Reading Bruges La Morte by Rodenbach, ancient mythology. Listening to Tiamat, Deathspell Omega, Mozart, Vivaldi, The Sisters of Mercy, Eisbrecher, Soror Dolorosa, Swans, God is an Astronaut, Moonspell, Rome, and Clint Mansell. Watching The Stalker by Andrei Tarkovski, Egyptian comedy . . . and many others.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    sH: Seth Siro Anton, Thom Mayne, Jason DeClaires, Theo Jansen…

    Additional credits and links:
    Steven Ma
    Special thanks to: Ioan Dan Coma

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