Osterreichische Wochenschrift fur den offentlich Baudienst, XIV,
Jg. 1908. [Trans. by Eric M. Nay, College of Architecture, Art, and Planning,
Cornell University. Spring 1995.]
I recently referred to the "Austrian Weekly Paper for Public Building", and had accidentally come across something in the 1903 annual report on road engineering, which dealt with a new engineering concept, proposed by Bill Archer in the Reform 1902-03 which was based on the idea of honeycombs (as in those made by bees, wasps, and hornets).
These principles are constructed from the eyes of insects, which actually are placed together as a bundle of eyes. Using the smallest surfaces the greatest number of elements can be brought together.
If one takes equal cross sections of a number of elements completely symmetrically in each cross sectional form, they become malleable in such a way that they can take on a new form, by joining themselves in bundles and giving themselves a symmetrical impression through their bundled circumference, thus all of these elements take on a hexagonal cross sectional form, similar to the prism of Basalt, which most likely became pressed into this state through the pressure caused by the earth's rock structure.
So far the idea of the hexagonal building concept had pleased me (in reading this report) and pleased me, not as a city dweller, but as a system of water engineering and sewage engineering and especially still as a hygienic and nature- friendly system for public and private gardens in the city. This was a very interesting idea and this newspaper would produce its own proposal, whose new ideas I would then take on myself to follow further and work out.
Now I feel myself creating interest in bringing about some understanding as a result of these studies for my colleagues, and the representative body of the profession (urban planners).
When one places city blocks together in the form of a hexagonal honeycomb and the streets organize the city blocks in place of partitions, these streets then pass everything in a regular broken form, whereby the shortest connecting lines between two points enclose the parts of the city.
Therefore one has to group the hexagonal building blocks so that the streets are either direct or placed by the shortest course of continuous lines.
Through this, form is extended, which the building concept in figures 1 & 2 describes.
Figure 1 shows a part of a new section of the city utilizing this hexagonal building concept and a completely regular form.
In figure 2 is an example of a plan sketch that is assigned to an irregular hexagonal building concept, to show that not just completely orthogonal, triangular and circular ordering systems are necessary to work with this basic idea, that the regularity of form, for this purpose, has many advantages in itself for this construction ordering system as a general example which is clearly calculable and therefore relates all of the following construction ideas originating in the regular form in figure 1.
For others, after an area is found to be open, and similar applied forms are derived and established, there is less demand to follow past rules.
With the hexagonal building concept shown in figure 1, hexagonal building parcels are arranged in such a manner, that they themselves are placed together with the others at their corners, which means that a row of polygons can be arranged in a longitudinal axis. In doing this the longitudinal axis parallel to the hexagon is similarly situated in a row, so that straight passing streets arise. The parallel streets of the hexagon are alternately placed in the neighboring rows, so that straight passing streets from three directions, are cut at angles under 60 degrees, which allows the hexagonal building blocks to still form the boundaries of the equilateral triangles, which themselves such blocks complete in a hexagonal star. The dimension of these triangles can be doubled to be as large as the hexagon.
One connects the centerpoints of these triangles, which are enclosed by hexagonal building blocks with straight lines, thus one gets further a hexagonal A B C D E F, in which the actual elements of the built building concept can be placed in and the entire building of the idea of the honeycomb as an idea in nature is made visible.
The hexagonal building blocks are inserted centrally into these hexagonal elements and rotated 30 degrees.
The useful filling of the triangles can become advantageous for public garden construction, whereby a middle single building - a restaurant, a coffee house, a monument or similar things need not be excluded.
Also three detached villas can be built easily (in this triangular area), which by being connected at the rear of the house fronts, can be formed into triangular buildings. (figure 3) [omitted]
The hexagonal building blocks then become advantageously constructed in such a way that enclosed street tracts and house tracts, which are unenclosed at the corners, become organized with distances relative to one another. The six building blocks of the housing tract only further enclose a hexagonal open inner courtyard, which should find a further use as a courtyard or be made into a garden.
In these interior courtyard areas left remaining in the center, the resulting further enclosure could be utilized to build a museum, school, entertainment establishments etc.
There is still space enough to erect a jointly used hexagonal building, around the six detached villas, which could be centered around the house fronts. (figure 4) [omitted]
The interior courtyard should lengthen the house fronts, but still freeing passage (figure 1) in order to make the courtyard accessible from the side. One should keep the six corners of the street front public passages open, as the entrances to all of the inner buildings are similarly plentiful in size and accessible.
The street fronts of these hexagonal blocks should produce a roughly calculable length of 150 meters. These lengths are also usually the standard distances between two fire hydrants, which are also the lengths of the openings in the water main for two manholes within the sewer system.
The street widths become minimally adapted to passing traffic, since only short house fronts are established, alternating once left, once right, without any parallel opposites.
Through the arrangement of the streets, the major and minor streets are established. The major streets stand parallel to the longitudinal axis of the building block and can take on a width of 20 meters.
The crossing minor streets or lanes become 15 meters wide.
The hexagonal building element of the complete construction produces a side length of 125 meters with an interior radius of 110 meters and an exterior value of 125 meters. The entire surface area is 41.250 square meters.
1. On this entire area can be built:
a) houses with streets - and building fronts with a middle tract depth of 12 meters.
b) houses with interior gardens and house fronts with a middle tract depth of 12 meters
c)entertainment establishments, museums, galleries, schools or villas in the interior garden
d) coffee houses, restaurants, monuments, fountains, etc. in a public park
Complete construction 11.976m
2. From the public streets including the sidewalks is formed 10.200 m
From the courtyard in the hexagon between front and rear tracts is formed 6.400m
3. From the hexagonal interior garden comes 7.708m
And from the open parks in the triangles 4.964m
Therefore the finished application is:
built surface 30%
streets and houses 40%
After arranging these proportions, these building concepts ranging between the fewer and more compact construction (urban) and the so-called public construction (cottage plots) approach the first form more, but have nearly the same advantages as the last building concept.
The advantages are generally in the following combinations:
1. The hexagonal housing blocks have entirely no north fronts since the longitudinal axis of the block rows are situated respective to the major street in the north-south direction, so that partially or completely sunless dwellings are enclosed, thereby we also have to consider the line of houses which cannot shade one another at all, except in the interior courtyard in case of higher building.
In the next figure (page 790) in which the length of sunshine relative to the width in the entrance for fall, summer, winter, and by day and night are derived, and as the house openings are calculated (AD, BE, CF) one can establish the duration of the sunshine for these house fronts from the manner in which light enters.
These sun times are placed together in the following table for the hexagonal building and now also still establish the sun times for each south and north front for the common orthogonal building.
Further advantages that can be had:
2. All housing has a front width which is determined by the length of the courtyard and, of course, the street tracts running through the public courtyard, when each hexagonal building block is surrounded by six public courtyards the interior courtyards will still have reasonable dimensions relative to the housing tracts.
3. For public monuments, fountains, and objects of beauty sufficient sizes of areas are given.
4. The form of the street becomes stable by designing the street as a straight line, giving it a delightful view. With this kind of image of forms of houses and tree groupings a constructed art is created, which is created by utilizing streets with two or more conceptual building strategies and streets with front yards in this arrangement.
5. The built ground surface area can create very valuable buildings, which thereby would be good rental property, which nearly every parcel of land can become, and is produced in the building up of density by using this construction method for future public building.
6. The water main and sewage system themselves provide a remarkably simple and clearly arranged structure, which is relatively inexpensive....
The execution of public welfare construction (referring to the construction of the water main and the sewage system) in the sixth point still requires a separate discussion and emphasis.
The public construction of water mains in figure 1 becomes an important construction element, whereby all house fronts become tangent, accumulating in a length of 660 meters, whereby the last two-thirds (of the accumulated line of house fronts) can use the smallest calibrated area or when street front is closed off the entire short house front is necessitated.
With the long side of the hexagonal building blocks, having a 100 meter width for each building element, three public fire hydrants can surface, whereby on each corner of a building, and on each corner of the public garden plots a fire hydrant can occur, so that the placement of the fire hydrants for all building elements always remains equal and light can always be found.
A garden hydrant for each building does not need to be organized.
Each building element gets only nine S gate type shut- off valves which likewise are symmetrically placed and therefore can have a traceable order with a further subdivision of pipeline, with a maximum length of a single pipe run of a little more than 100 meters.
For the housing tracts, one's own water main line which can be connected with a short service line follows, joining two connections with a street pipeline 420 meters long, engineered to be small and inexpensive, which itself is still left to be administered as a public pipeline run by the city administration, which can result in increased house ownership.
This internal piping can advantageously use three publicly accessible fire hydrants, h so that all houses can be sprayed from the front and on the three sides from the courtyard.
The sewer system creates similar benefits.
Each building element gets a public sewer with a length of 660 meter circumference, in which the last two thirds of the run can be constructed with the smallest clay tile sewage conduit, d= 200 mm.
With the manholes, BS, (figure one) three lengths of insulated tubing coming out of each building element are used through the combination at each corner of the building blocks.
With the street ditches (drop shafts) nine lengths of insulated tubing are required for the entire 4 1/8 ha circumference, with a median range of 50 meters from one another.
For the preservation of the long main sewer system coming from the house tracts (behind the houses) to the street sewer system, characteristic interior pipes are used advantageously, which the entire courtyard encloses, uncovering all connections for a 510 meter long circumference with the smallest acceptable cross section of concrete drainage ditches.
These regular house sewers require longer house pipes and a longer watermain connecting pipe, directing the cost away from the home owner further to the city, requiring six manholes..., and after the planning of the building division approximately 30 street drains.
Uncovering the building in the courtyards and public parks requires a longer house sewage system and a longer watermain connecting pipe.
All these elaborations sprang from the example of the eye, which through further argument became completely unnecessary.
The only question still to discuss is how can this hexagonal building concept be used? For example can it be used as part of a large urban addition to a district in Vienna and to the city center, particularly the street directions themselves?
I have made such a study in a small representative fraction of the city in the Schmelz District in Vienna, and sketched such an example in figure 6.
As this figure shows, the hexagonal building concept fits well into the area.
It results in streets running parallel to the zone and two rows of streets, which through diagonal angles join to the adjacent major streets: Hutteldorfer-, Marzstrasse, etc. by passing and leading through the city center.
The projected building concept does not speak, of course, of the wishes of the population, which a typical cottage plan does, but these building concepts, which themselves already exist in a major area of Schmelz as military drill fields, have also been carried out, and in each joining of buildings, light and air, and gardens become created. Once the example is made in a small area, and proven to work, the system will prove itself as a leading example (for future construction).