Zeichensäle are not taken for granted at the Technical University of Vienna (TU Vienna). (Whereas the term Zeichensäle, a German word with the literal meaning of drawing rooms, refers to their original purpose until the mid-20th century, it is now also used to refer to the studios/student ateliers at some faculties of architecture, especially in Austria, e.g., at the TU Vienna.) Although studios for students are usually provided at many faculties of architecture, Zeichensäle at TU Vienna are still fighting for their right to exist. Due to lack of space TU Vienna does not have enough space for the approximately 5,500 students of architecture. Therefore, only a small fraction of students have the possibility of working on their projects on campus. In negotiations about the distribution of space at the University, the purpose of the Zeichensäle is constantly in question.
At the TU Vienna Zeichensäle – the former drawing rooms – have been used like seminar rooms as the properties of departments. After decades of occupation and appropriation on the part of the students, there are now spaces for students to work on their projects. This appropriation did not only lead to the existence of the Zeichensäle, it also led to their self-organised structure, which is not very common in international comparison and can mostly be found at technical universities in Austria.
The main focus of this thesis is, on the one hand, the history of evolution of the Zeichensäle, which has only been retold verbally, and, on the other hand, the analysis of the circumstances and impacts – on space and studying – of these processes of appropriation. In order to do so, fundamental research on the history and conditions of the Zeichensäle at TU Vienna were necessary. Hence, it makes use of primary sources, such as interviews with former and current students from Zeichensäle, research in various archives and field research on site.
In this thesis Zeichensäle are understood as social space, which is not planned, but made by the people using it, which in this case happen to be future architects. Therefore, it dives deeper into the concepts of the social production of space, based on the theories of the appropriation, constitution and production of spaces, especially the ones of the sociologists Martina Löw and Henri Lefebvre, who constitute space as a product as well as means of production of society or social groups. According to that understanding, this thesis aims to show the spaces/products made by students contributing to the space of the Zeichensäle. These products and spaces are presented in the form of an encyclopedia, in order to reflect on the definition of Zeichensäle and how they are distinguished from studios, which are not self-organised. In addition to the encyclopedia, which does not claim any completeness, this thesis looks into the relations of production having an impact on the development of the Zeichensäle as well as their collective production process. It shows the uprising of a counter culture and the representation of student culture in space in parallel to the historic, structural and political conditions relating to the Zeichensäle and addresses the question of how academic discourse might benefit by spaces representing student culture on campus sites and how architectural education can benefit by the appropriation of spaces.