Office of Droll Concerns

Visions

The New Year starts off really well.  With breaking news!  Westbahnpark is coming!

This unique and significant piece of urban landscape which opens towards the city and allows a view into the Vienna Forest will be a linear park, a high-end-wild-line, a green space for natives, foreigners, for the old, the young, the fat, the slim and the climate.

For: visions make it possible!

Vienna 1150, Schweglerbrücke / Westbahnstrecke 
01.01.2019

 

We need visions!

Urban Planning and other conceptual activities are increasingly restricted by a so called reality. The system of economic and political (i.e. neo.liberal) powers, as it exists today is perpetuated by continuously observing it and it is presented as a given. Since there is, however, following David Greaber, no ‘inevitable tide of history’ – it is much more a product of activities which follow a distinct goal – we have to open up our minds. This has helped others, if you look at “Park Fiction” in Hamburg, St. Pauli, who won a long struggle for a park on a prestigious and costly site. Therfore: give us visions!

Here is a concrete example: an innovative park is possible – even in the dense city of Vienna: Westbahn-Park.

The 15th district , Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus [1], is the mostl densily inhabited outer district in Vienna with 20.474 inhabitants per km2. Here average wages are the lowest (16.766 per year, which is 80 % of Vienna’s average income), the share of inhabitants who were not born in Austria is the highest (46%) and it is the youngest district (in good old Vienna of an average age 38,6 years). Prognosis of growth mount up to 19,5 %.

Built density is very high (floor-space-ratio 2,93). The potential to further densification in the existing built up structures by adding storeys, by roof extensions, and by filling up gaps is enormous. Allready now the city’s goals for provision with green spaces are failed by far only reaching a quarter of the self-set percentage.Even when reducing the numbers to the half in densily built up areas, it is not accomplished and lacking half the amount.

In the 15th district t you can feel what the densification of the city structure of the Gründerzeit is like: more people on the streets, more flow of traffic and movement, more people in green spaces and parks. More languages, more people of different age, more encounters. To the north of Westbahn former gardens are transformed into extremely dense housing estates, sites are being closed, attics are expanded to appartments. In the south less dense areas are waiting to be re-zoned and houses built higher. Existing houses are enlarged and building gaps are being closed.

This initiates a positive development in economic terms as well as with regard to the social mix and it produces an urgent need for compensating open spaces.

On the site of the former Westbahn piece by piece is falling out of use due to the egradation of the station in realtion to the new main station elsewhere. Station buildings are left empty, tracks are no longer used and storage halls are abandoned. Furthermore this unique piece of urban landscape has extraordinary qualities: The view into the landscape of the Wienerwald (the hills of the Vienna Forest) is open, the edge towards the slope of the Wien-river valley reveals the outlook onto the urban fabric; here you can experience the impression of truly free, open space, which outweighs the urban density. Here the compensating park must be realised!

An iconic urban landscape of seven hectares, a modern but long-lasting and robust linear park provides the existing inhabitants and the newcomers with a space for recreation, cooling vegetation,, paths through the urban wild.

This utopian idea finds numerous supporters and can be realised in different ways. It will draw attention. It will work as a part of t he green connection to the Vienna forest.

Desnification: Yes! Urban Green: Yes! Space for movements: Yes! Places of encounter: Yes! Open space: Yes!

[1] Here we relate to statistical data and plans collected by landscape architect Chrsitina Kirchmair for her master thesis. (to be completed in 2019).