––– There is no city, no urban space
without a garden or park,
without the simulation of nature,
the evocation of the ocean or forest,
without trees tormented into strange human and inhuman shapes.
[Henri Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution]
A radical scenario for the transformation
of the Westbahn area in Vienna
More than half of the world's population already lives in metropolitan areas. And while we are taking up more and more space, the land is becoming more and more important for our metropolitan life as an existential reservoir for food and resources. The resulting interventions in the landscape have led to irreversible changes in its shape and form. In the Anthropocene, this growing use of land not only polarizes the relationship between urban and rural territories but at the same time reveals our profound dependence on the finite resource of land.
Vienna does not seem to be spared from this trend either. On the contrary - the current construction activities are a reflection of never-ending land utilization. Many »Wiener Gstettn« (fallow areas) are increasingly subject to neoliberal urbanism. The green and undeveloped empty spaces, which are among the valuable habitats of the urban jungle, are often neglected. But climate change, globalization, excessive consumption of resources, and never-ending greed are pushing our earthly world to its limits and are demanding alternative and integrative solutions increasingly.
Diploma in architecture
mentor Tina Gregoric Dekleva
Vienna University of Technology, March 2022
In the waiting room of the future, the opportunity was offered to rethink urban vacancies and to place an infrastructure fallow in a new context. The diploma »Land schafft Stadt« follows the legacy of Vienna's urban development and the urban-rural dichotomy and dares to attempt a transformation of the 60-hectare Westbahn area with its three spatial units in the middle of the Viennese urban landscape. The antithesis proposes an alternative development scenario and positions itself against conservative urban development strategies by using this area for agriculture. The concept presents a scenario that grows with the city, creating new tensions and identities through the contrast between a dense city and a productive landscape. In addition, an urban interior with architectural interventions creates new uses for this location and thus becomes part of Vienna's urban space. It is an attempt to understand the landscape as an adventure, an experience, a risk, and to re-understand an urban-rural identity through a staged transformation: the city as the periphery of nature.
New contrasts are created. A dense urban territory is confronted with productive land and creates new landscapes that flow into the inner city. The collision between usability and poetics, as well as conceptuality and reality, allows this landscape to be understood as an adventure, an experience, or a risk. The antithesis dares to attempt a dramaturgical transformation of this linear territory. The provocation as a new narrative of this territory manifests the discrepancy between urban and rural as agrarian urbanism. In the performative narrative, the territory merges into a scenario that reveals three different identities. Additionally, an urban interior of architectural elements is placed strategically and brings new potential uses to this site. These platforms of formal and informal programs become the new beacons of the landscape.
As the surface changes over time, creating a new landscape, a program of architectural elements (a promenade, three bridges, and nine towers) will be placed strategically throughout the area - designed to mediate, educate, transport, and connect. In addition to the scenic and productive properties of the space, the 'urban interior' brings new potential uses and infrastructures to this place. These become icons and signs of identity. They offer formal and informal uses and create places of encounter and interaction. At the same time, they enable the perception and experience of the landscape on different levels such as directions of movement. A promenade to access the room units; bridges allowing the crossing of the remaining S-Bahn tracks; and towers, which stack and condense a spatial program, complete the landscape concept for this urban space.
(c) Felix Redmann 2023