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Since 2001, the Austrian architecture and design firm AllesWirdGut ("everything will go well," in German) has sought to explore less conventional ideas of housing. Invited to participate in a young-designer's exhibition on living space in Vienna, the five-person firm began to rethink the idea of housing, ridding themselves of the typical blueprint of a ceiling, floor, and 4-walled structure. "We wanted something that was not only new but that would also be interactive and fun for the audience of the exhibition," explains architect Herwig Spiegl.

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In AllesWirdGut’s TurnOn scheme, different configurations to create these space-efficient, single living units could be made available. Interaction with the TurnOn prototypes have been popular with audiences at several exhibitions. As in car manufacturing, the TurnOn could be customized for the buyer. The topography could be manipulated to “support the relaxation of the body.”

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Images courtesy architect unless otherwise noted.

What AWG came up with was the housing concept called "TurnOn." It originated from scenes in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey mixed with a desire to be as forward-thinking as the automotive industry. Spiegl states, "Carmakers join networks and share ideas, and because of that they have been able to make advances to create cars that at one time would be considered ‘science-fiction' into a reality. But in the field of architecture, we rarely collaborate on new ideas and designs, and we are still using old ideas. We use the same parameters for housing that we did a thousand years ago—plane floors surrounded by edged corners." Straying from this configuration, AWG envisioned a more compact and more circular plan.

At first glance, TurnOn is reminiscent of a human-size hamster wheel. The arrangement would consist of several revolving modules linked together. Each module's interior would be outfitted for a specific room or function, such as a kitchen, bedroom, or exercise room. The wheel literally turns, and as the positioning of the module changes, so does its function. Spiegl explains, "For instance, while cooking, the couch becomes the ceiling, the dining table a wall." The Wet Cell, as AWG refers to it, is the module that would house the bathroom, including the toilet, shower, and bath. One would simply rotate the module to utilize one of the facilities.

The automotive industry's ability to prefabricate, mass-produce, and tailor its products for customers could be realized in the fabrication of TurnOn. "Just like customizing a car, the buyer could customize and accessorize to their own tastes and price range. Colors can be chosen, accessories such as flat-screen monitors could be added," says Spiegl, "and the modules could be arranged in infinite combinations."

AWG's idea has struck a chord in the architectural community and the general public. Since the first exhibition in Vienna, TurnOn has been featured in other showcases, including Archilab in Orleans, France, and the Vitra Design Museum in Berlin. Both home owners and club owners have made inquiries into having TurnOn installed as a functional, albeit irreverent, discussion piece. Spiegl is aware that TurnOn is a slightly far-fetched concept, but he stresses, "TurnOn is based on a very serious idea. Everyone talks about revolutionizing the way we live. There is definitely room to compromise between the housing being created now and what we propose." Randi Greenberg

By Randi Greenberg


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