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aspern INTERNATIONAL - Ideas for Change: an international view

Category: architecture, Exhibition 14. July 2015

Today, the promotion of culture and creative activity is an essential element of urban development concepts worldwide. The existence of a creative environment and cultural life are considered decisive factors for the attractiveness and the success of a city. Culture and its various stakeholders have always been important factors in sustainable urban environments.

The objective of the idea competition „Ideas for Change“, organized by the Wien 3420 Aspern Development AG in cooperation with the Architekturzentrum Wien, is to develop alternative approaches to the subjects of urban planning and architecture.

Seven architecture firms from several European countries participated in this idea competition for the development of a plot of land in the Urban Lakeside Aspern. In the currently growing city of Vienna, Aspern is the largest urban development project, and at the same time the largest in Europe. Ideas for Change aims to initiate a comprehensive debate about the future of the city and its structures, with a conception of architecture as a kind of participatory process, including the reflection about the role of architects as professionals and architecture in general. The exhibition Aspern INTERNATIONALenables the jury and the public to get to know the competition presentations, as well as other works of the participating architecture firms. The results of this competition have been presented and discussed on the occasion of the Vienna Biennale 2015, before the jury’s session. The contents of these discussions were the basis for the jury’s recommendations which are already downloadable here.

Inspired by the tradition of social housing in Vienna, the architects submitted their own interpretations, combining this tradition with the flexibility of 19th century buildings. The ideas looked for were new forms of multifunctional buildings with high ceilings on ground floor level, their open usability being a crucial ingredient of a successful urban society with its huge diversity of lifestyles. A balance between the need for privacy and the one for a social life has to be included in the planning. The building projects are multifunctional and respond to the demands and requirements of a dense city, at the same time they concentrate several functions that would otherwise be scattered around the city.

Residential buildings as basic elements of society prove to be a worthwhile field of research, including the city’s history as a subject. According to the participating architects, the projects should already incorporate aspects like energy, landscape conservation and protection of the environment. The last years have shown a tendency to returning to urban densification, due to the insight that densely populated cities are more energy-saving than spaciously laid out suburbs.

By which means this multi-functionality should be achieved, how national and European regulations and guidelines are to be considered as determining factors, how the social mix, the complexity and the cultural diversity of a historical city could be recreated, all these are subjects dealt with during the discussion. (written by Cem Angeli)

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