P3 Behind the scenes

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First, we learn about two of the biggest urban development projects that have been initiated by the City of Vienna: Vienna Main Station Europe – Centre and the Aspern Lake City. Secondly, we aim at looking “behind the scenes” in order to better understand the dynamics of such complex processes. Our particular focus is to understand the roles of public spaces within these transitions. Thirdly, we will learn how to formulate critiques and recommendations as regards planning for public spaces. In this respect, public spaces are not only considered as a design field, but also as social, political, ecological, infrastructural and cultural fields.


This will be achieved through a series of 3 intensive teaching blocks:


Block 1 : Understanding the place, October 2010

Becoming familiar with the place by gathering information directly from the responsible individuals and institutions at each site.

Task 1:  interviewing, gathering media reports, collecting parliamentary minutes…


Block 2 : Experimenting with ideas, December 2010

Developing ideas based on a careful analysis of the conceptions and visions already expressed for planning and designing public spaces confronted with general issues about the nature of public space. A critical evaluation of the projected public spaces is integral to this block.

Task 2: formulating a critical reading

Block 3: Practising urban intervention, January 2011

Producing concrete design/planning recommendations for public spaces in the two locations on the basis of the experiences of blocks one and two.

Task3: design and planning the public space


Looking behind the scenes allows one to not only understand the development process of new strategic projects and the role of public spaces in these processes in Vienna, but also offers the opportunity to anchor the design/planning for public spaces into its reality. The intensive blocks will support you in your endeavour to create high quality public spaces. This contains a deep reflection on the process and product nature of public spaces, and their connection.

The blocks will offer you the possibility to go beyond mere cosmetic design of built open spaces and to understand complex interwoven dimensions of urban development when designing/planning for public spaces in a new part of the city.  One scenario is located inside the city centre (Vienna Main Station Europe – Centre) and the other one on the urban periphery (Aspern lake city).

During the blocks, essential questions will be tackled: What will be the impact of public spaces on the urban development process of the entire city? What role does urban culture play in this context? What is the history of the transformation of public spaces in Vienna? How can this historical perspective be taken into account when conceiving space for the future? How can life and activity be inspired by processes to design and plan for public spaces of Aspern lake city and Vienna Main Station Europe – Centre?  What are the social and political expectations linked to the projected public spaces? How will both the new main station area and the original airport site Aspern relate to the existing fabric of the city?  What are the economic concerns for these new public spaces?  What are the ecological implications of developing public spaces on both sites?

The attempts to answer these questions will lead to explicitly formulated, developed and designed recommendations to sustain alternative ways of conceiving spaces where public life might eventually unfold in the future in Vienna.


Additional Information

Course language is English. In Block 1, you will form groups and choose one of the two areas to work on.

This 5 SWS project course is offered in both study fields architecture and spatial planning. Students coming from other disciplines are warmly welcome to attend as well via registering as Mitbeleger (please contact us at SKuOR).

a) study field of architecture: as integral part of the special module (Sondermodul) „forschend entwerfen/entwerferisch forschen“ at the Urban Design Institute (contact: Michael Surböck or Sabine Knierbein)

b) study field of spatial planning: as integral part of a 10 SWS one semester P3 project in cooperation with the Institute for Sociology (ISRA, Prof. Jens Dangschat) and the SRF (Institute for Regional Sciences, Prof. Rudolf Giffinger). Students who visit both parts are given priority, however, students that just want to attend the 5 SWS SKuOR course are warmly welcome as well (contact: Sabine Knierbein, Johanna Aigner)

Registration online via Groups in TISS.