In Vienna, participation is part and parcel of every new project process. This process is organised and prepared by the Urban Renewal Offices (Gebietsbetreuungen Stadterneuerung, GB*) and wohnpartner, which thoroughly monitor and assist planned projects and inform all players already before the actual project launch. In this way, all stakeholders can participate directly through their accumulated “neighbourhood know-how”, novel ideas or future-oriented proposals, thereby shaping the cityscape and, as a consequence, their own immediate living environment. This fosters cohesion and solidarity and strengthens the emotional connection with the neighbourhood.
Numerous cases could be cited to show that our beautiful city is home to many highly motivated citizens. The following section offers just a few examples to provide some insights into the nature of participation in the urban context.
15th municipal district, Gasgasse 6 – Redesigning the forecourt of the “School of Diversity”
In 2017, a local resident and mother of a child attending this school suggested improving the appeal of the school forecourt and therefore contacted the GB* team. Over the summer months, the forecourt was given additional seating; a drinking fountain and four water mist stations were installed to cool off during hot spells, thereby combating the development of urban heat islands.
The GB* office was supported in its work by teachers, parents and schoolchildren, who joined forces with the competent departments of the City Administration and the Municipal District Office through workshops and on-site project work. Moreover, the redesign also resulted in a new, small urban recreation area for local residents.
On an initiative of the Municipal District Office, this important shopping street is to be gradually renewed and redesigned in 2021. From April to September 2020, residents, street users and businesspeople were invited to submit ideas, requests and notions for its redesign to the local GB*.
All these suggestions and submissions are currently being evaluated and analysed. It is likely that numerous ideas and inspirations will be integrated into the project – the people submitting them will certainly enjoy their contributions to improving the cityscape.
With the “NACHmachBAR” campaign (a play on the German words for “neighbour” and “feasible”), the GB* offices want to strengthen the sense of community in neighbourhoods and render urban quarters more lively. Public spaces in the environs of housing estates are to be increasingly used for a variety of neighbourhood activities.
This may be a party or a communal lunch organised to meet up with people living in the area, or perhaps an artistic installation in a decommissioned phone booth or a flea market in the interior courtyard of a residential building. Yet all these activities have one common purpose: bringing people from the neighbourhood together and strengthening the local community.
The name “Garage Grande” refers to a disused five-storey car park in the 16th municipal district Ottakring with a floorspace of 2,500 sqm. For a period of three years, the building is to be put to various forms of temporary use. The local GB* welcomed this opportunity and provided space for trying out and implementing ideas to improve the urban climate.
At the moment, the first floor of the car park offers an opportunity to try out urban gardening, while the second floor houses an art studio and the third floor is home to two bee colonies. This project is to function as a place of encounter and exchange for neighbours and could accommodate many more DIY projects.
Praterstrasse and Nestroyplatz NEW
Nestroyplatz and Praterstrasse in the 2nd municipal district are to be redesigned and rendered more attractive in the context of a planned refurbishment project. 200 local residents submitted around 500 ideas and suggestions towards this purpose. This participation project was monitored and assisted by the experts of the Urban Renewal Offices (GB*).
Thematic working groups were set up to enable the interested participants to intensively discuss such relevant issues as more crossings for Praterstrasse, wider cycleways or the redesign of Therese-Krones-Park. The jointly developed redesign objectives will serve as the basis for further planning by the Municipal District Office.