Tuesday was another busy day, as we made our way through Seestadt Aspern, as well as a few other relatively new developments in Vienna. Aspern was very interesting, and seeing it in person drastically increased my predictions for its success as a real urban area.

The master plan for Aspern as it stands now. The bottom left area is mostly complete, while the far portion is still in development and construction.
The master plan model for Aspern as it stands now. The bottom left area is mostly complete, while the far portion is still in development and construction.

After riding the subway in, we got a peek at the master plan model for the city, courtesy of Mr. Marvin Mitterwallner of Wien 3420 aspern Development. Here, we learned a bit about the history of the area. It had been an early airfield, and fell in the Russian occupied portion of the city after World War II. The airfield in the American portion of the city would go on to become the modern Vienna International Airport, while this area would languish in limbo for decades. At one point the area was sold to Opel Cars, who built a large factory at the edge before selling the rest back to the city. When it was decided to build a brand new development, a competition was held to determine who would plan it, and a Swedish company won the contract with a mixed function plan that drew on existing elements in Vienna, including large green areas, water features (the central lake is entirely manmade, drawing on two local groundwater streams), and a central ring road.

A map of the Aspern plan. Brighter colors indicate higher concentrations of housing.
A map of the Aspern plan. Brighter colors indicate higher concentrations of housing.

The model included buildings ranged from extremely detailed to blank blocks on lots. These represented sold and designed lots and unsold lots respectively. Among the various building types are a large portion of publicly subsidized affordable housing for lower and middle-class families (approximately a 60/40 mix of subsidized and free market), community designed areas for specific groups (including a block of co-working housing with open workspace on the ground floor), and a handful of business and research buildings. All buildings have to be prepared to support solar infrastructure in the future

I’ve covered most of our in person tour in the pictures above, you can click through to read all the captions with full information about the sights. A few other tidbits that don’t have pictures associated:

  • Only a few early buildings have ground level apartments, built as artist studios before struggling to create a creative class from nothing. Most other buildings have diverse mixed uses on the ground floor.
  • Many roads are delivery-only, and ones that aren’t have approximately two-thirds of their space dedicated to walking and biking. Some companies are already doing deliveries by bike.
  • While a few people have been dissatisfied with the lack of support for cars, there is more than enough demand to replace those who move out.
  • The other complaint people had was the lack of shopping options, with only one grocery store in the development. This is on its way to being remedied.
  • Subsidized apartments range from €7.50-9.00/sq. m, comparably to the cheaper subsidized housing in the inner city.
  • The area between the development and the Opel factory is filled with community gardens, some for rent and some open community use.
  • The development already has an elementary and high school, as well as multiple kindergartens.
  • The Neighborhood Management group subsidizes citizen led projects to improve the community.
  • Among other buildings being constructed currently are a building with soccer fields on the roof and a trampoline park inside (trampolines seem to be kind of a theme in Aspern), as well as HoHo, the tallest timber building in the world, built with 70% wood.

After leaving Aspern, we were joined by a local guide and urban planner Christian Eizinger to visit the new Vienna University of Economics (WU Vienna) campus, which was planned and built by a number of international architects, including a fabulous library designed by famed architect Zaha Hadid.

After this, we stopped at two older planned developments, the Nordbahnhof housing development and the UNO-City (the European UN headquarters) and surrounding Donau City, built on the island between the main Danube and the New Danude. The apparent and growing success of these two developments is a large part of why I have great hope in the future of Aspern. We also explored a few other older areas of the city with Mr. Eizinger as we returned to our hotel.

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