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7th Viennese Seminar on Architecture

"Der Gürtel: city space - traffic zone"

Sat 17.08.1996 – Sun 08.09.1996

opening: September 17, 1996, 7 p.m.

5 project groups with the architects:
– Max Dudler, Berlin
– Carlos Gomez de Llarena, Caracas
– Adolf Krischanitz, Vienna
– Jan-Willem Neutelings, Rotterdam
– Richard Plunz, New York

The topics of the past Seminars on Architecture all covered general urban situations and problems. For each individual problem a place in Vienna was chosen and the seminar groups set out to provide a solution.

This year place and topic will be one for the first time: ,,The Viennese Gürtel” – where in the late 19th century Otto Wagner planned the Vienna Stadtbahn line comprising a total of 30 stations. Originally, planned as a representative boulevard with tree lanes similar to the Vienna Ringstrasse, the Gürtel has lost its potential functions as a green area for recreation to become a true traffic belt.

The four-lane roads along both sides of the Stadtbahn line constitute an enormous traffic burden, giving rise to environmental pollution. Expectations, which hoped for an attractive residential area were never met. Today, this part of the city is characterized by disintegration, a large population of foreigners and increasing unemployment. Even the peripheral buildings erected during the Gründerzeit have to a large part reached substandard quality. The deterioration of housing quality, the low purchasing power of the inhabitants as well as a flourishing red light district have resulted in a strong exodus of shops and businesses.

In 1984 a Gürtel Commission was established, whose purpose was to find solutions to the traffic problem in order to allow city revitalisation. The ideas for comprehensive intervention that were born in this framework never materialized primarily due to the immense costs involved. The project GÜRTEL PLUS – co-financed by the European Union – has tried to develop a more realistic ,,scenario” by using the limited resources available as the basis for all projects.

The purpose of this seminar is to analyze the Gürtel region, reflect upon the infrastructure and redefine parts of this area, attempting to include the non-motorized traffic participants (pedestrians, cyclers, rollerbladers, etc.) in the planning phase and to ,,break through” the Gürtel with green areas, recreation areas, public institutions, youth centers, shops, etc. The aim is to elaborate and present city plans and ideas taking both social and cultural factors into consideration.

Due to the fact that the topic of this year’s Seminar goes beyond the field of architecture, national and international experts will be invited as lecturers and critics of the students work. These experts are either familiar with the Gürtel problems and have planned projects on the Gürtel or have experience with related problems of other cities. An important goal of the Seminar is the conception and presentation of an exhibition at the end of the Seminar. From the very beginning the students will work parallel on their projects and on the production of this exhibition. The aim is not only a presentation of student-projects but also a broad information exhibition about the Gürtel itself.