wednesdays 19

ÖBB's 'Station Improvement Offensive'

Wed 18.04.2001, 19:00-21:00

wednesdays 19

State of the Project

With: Hermann Czech, Arnold Klotz, Florian Riegler, Roger Riewe, Norbert Steiner, Martin Zechner, Ute Woltron

In commercials run by the Austrian Federal Railway Company ÖBB, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev strides through sunlight-flooded glass-walled station halls or takes, with broad-shouldered bodyguards by his side, his seat in a comfortably roomy train compartment, proclaiming highly impressed and with presidential pleasure that what has been achieved here is not just ‘Glasnost’, but true ‘Perestroika’.

A very different note, though, was recently struck by Austrian Traffic and Infrastructure Minister Monika Forstinger, who qualified the plans submitted by engaged architects for the nationwide ‘Station Improvement Offensive’ as ‘architectural self-promotion at the expense of the taxpayer’ and announced drastic budget cutbacks. The whole thing, she suggested, should be limited to the improvement of sanitary facilities and the extension of facilities for disabled persons.

Still, the large-scale ÖBB project which, after years of planning, provides for a high-quality reconfiguration or the re-building of, all in all, 43 train stations in Austria, can hardly be stopped now. At present, construction works are under way in the stations of Feldkirch (architects: Zechner+Zechner), Innsbruck (Riegler/Riewe), and Graz (Zechner+Zechner). For Vienna, a number of major projects is being considered, aside from the reconfiguration of the existing station buildings. wednesdays19 gives a survey of ongoing projects and the state of planning in Vienna.

Hermann Czech, architect
Arnold Klotz, Vienna Urban Planning Department
Florian Riegler, Roger Riewe, architects
Norbert Steiner, ÖBB
Martin Zechner, architect

Ute Woltron, journalist