A sanatorium in an untapped nuclear power station

Sana1_Web View from the North-West - Patients Tower on top of Reactor Building

Sana2_Web Longitudinal Section - Patients Tower, Building Core, Flooded Reactor and Turbine Hall

Sana3_Web Sectional Perspective - Building Core

Sana3b_Web Sectional Perspective - Balcony Pool and Reactor Building Wall

Sana4_Web Studies of Composure

Sana4b_Web Patients Room

Sana5_Web Plan - Therapy Landscape, Storage Pool

Sana6_Web Sections - Therapy Landscape, Storage Pool

Sana7_Web Sana8_Web Larger Context - Zwentendorf, Nature Reserve

Sana9_Web Sectional Model - 1:50

Sana10_Web Sectional Model - 1:200

Sana10b_Web Sectional Model - 1:200

Sana11_Web Sitemodel - 1:1000

On the level of factual description Sanatorium is the speculative proposal to adapt an old nuclear power station into a sanatorium dedicated to rheumatic diseases. Eight storeys of patients rooms are superimposed on the reactor building while spaces dedicated to therapy are in part carved into the existing volume of thick concrete and in part utilize existing conditions such as the flooded reactor.
Patients are received on groundfloor and are given the option to either take a really long escalator which runs on the outside or to take the long stairs up through the turbine hall. Either way they arrive in the lobby, which is the former roof of the reactor building, from where all other features of the building are accessible.
The spatial experience is varied and characterized by opposites. A 360 degree view over the river, the nature reserve, the fields and the village is possible while there is also the option to dive down into the flooded steel bowl security containment. Some spaces are superexposed in terms of light and view while at the same time being climatically enclosed and vice versa. Emphasis is put on the choreography of spatial sequences - especially on the staging of threshold conditions. Movement through the building becomes a diverse experience targeting all senses as well as preconceptions on physiotherapy.
As it is an essential concept in treatment of rheumatic diseases to get the patient out of bed, thats what the building attempts to do. It substitutes the steril, controlled spaces of common hospitals with a variety of conditions and climates and provides threshold conditions between opposite phenomenas in contrast to the specific beneficial climate of the modern architectural machine.

Still this project is not just about hospitals. The core of the underlying thesis consists in the assumption that sustainability is just another chapter in modernism. At the threshold of modernity, the human body, in its biological reality, was identified as a valuable resource; now the climate is recognized as the decisive factor to guarantee further development of productivity and economy on a global scale. The pursuit of economic and technological progress is the main objective and the driving force shared by the discourse of classic modernity and the contemporary discourse on sustainability.
In classic modernity, the organization of bodies in relation to the milieu was led by an idea of hygiene. Nowadays, bodies and climate are being organized according to the idea of energetic efficiency.
The aim of this project is to question the regime of efficiency and to try to conceptualize an architecture which positions itself beyond the territory of power but is modern and sustainable nevertheless. Sanatorium proposes a haven for escapists who seek refuge from ecological panopticism and the uniformity of green buildings. It aims to achieve this through creating an entirely dialectic situation. Illness and wellness, efficiency and extravagance, hygiene and filth, interiority and exteriority, exposure and enclosure, heaviness and lightness come together to create something unclassifiable: a misfit which yet consciously acknowledges the same goals as the mechanisms of power. Sanatorium does not play by the rules of power, but nevertheless pursues the optimization of life.

(The nuclear power station Zwentendorf is the only one in Austria and it has never been used despite that it had been completed and was fully operational back in 1978. It sits on a wide clearance next to the river Danube within a nature reserve approximately one hour from Vienna.)