My group spent Sunday mainly wandering around Schönbrunn, the royal family’s summer residence and just one of the dozens of amazing public parks in the city. While beautiful, there’s only so much urban planning or smart city information to glean from a 300+ year old garden. I picked up a few things today though, notably the importance of art in public space. Almost every square in inch of Vienna has some sort of art, from sculptures in plazas to paintings above subway staircases (the subways also feature professional buskers, who audition for the right to play for an hour and a half at a time), and of course, architecture. One very interesting bit of art appeared in a display case attached to the already beautiful entrance to an underground parking garage, a regular site in the city. Many in my group find these to be extremely exciting, since they simultaneously protect historic buildings and landscapes while hiding cars and the ugly parking garages that come with them.
The Gloriette, one of the buildings at Schönbrunn, seen from the base of the hill it rests on.
Part of the Roman Ruins at Schönbrunn. Spoiler alert: they were built in 1778 by the Habsburgs.
The Palmenhause in the Schönbrunn gardens, built 1882.
An egyptian-style obelisk in Schönbrunn. Hieroglyphics are visible along the structure.
The Neptune Fountain at Schönbrunn.
The view of Schönbrunn Palace from the Gloriette.
The view of the Schönbrunn Palace from the inside of the Neptune Fountain.
My favorite of the statues in Schönbrunn, this depicts Minerva (the Roman equivalent of the Greek Athena) stopping Mars (Ares) from drawing his sword.
One of the obelisks at the entrance to Scönbrunn.
Part of the Roman Ruins at Schönbrunn.
The Palace at Schönbrunn.
An old building with a modern fifth floor. According to our guide, the bottom three floors are likely rented on various levels of subsidy, while the top floor is likely owned by its residents. This helps lower costs for everyone involved.
The Obelisk Fountain in Schönbrunn, found underneath the previously pictured obelisk.
It’s hard to see in this picture, but this fountain is entirely indoors, part of an alleyway/shopping area between streets. The windows above are most likely apartments, showing the prevalence of mixed uses.
These art pieces appear on the outer edge of the entrance to an underground parking ramp.
A lonely Bird rental scooter in the middle of sidewalk. Even Vienna isn’t free of the scourge.
Part of the Roman Ruins at Schönbrunn.
A tradition Tirolean building in Schönbrunn.
Some pastries in Cafe Central. I’ll be honest, this picture is to make people jealous.
I arrived in Vienna early Saturday morning after a long, sleepless plane ride. While Saturday wasn’t spent doing much of anything, I’d like to log my first few impressions of the city. Read more
I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be spending the next week in Vienna, Austria, visiting various sites and programs related to Smart City Wien! This means no short piece related to Songdo today, but instead I’ll be posting updates from Austrian over the next week, something resembling every night. Should be fun!
New Songdo City, South Korea has been in planning and construction since 2003. It is and has been many things: a truly global city, an aerotropolis supported by the nearby Incheon International Airport, a green city, a “ubiquitous city” with technology in every aspect of life, and the backdrop to scenes in the video for the hit song “Gangnam Style.” As an early and long-running smart city project, Songdo says a lot about what we want from our cities of the future – and about what we may actually get. Read more
As mentioned in my previous Henry Ford post, Henry Ford’s failures in Alabama were not the end to his development aspirations. Around the same time Ford was attempting to remake Muscle Shoals for the future, he was preparing to bring the past to Dearborn, Michigan. Read more
Content Warning: Antisemitism
At the end of World War I, Henry Ford was one of the most famous and powerful men in America. Between his company’s explosive growth, his massive popularity in Michigan and beyond, and his close friendship with President Woodrow Wilson, Ford was on top of the world. At this point, as often happens with men of power, he took an interest in public issues.
At the same time, a massive construction project was grinding to a halt in the Tennessee River Valley. The Wilson Dam had started as a wartime necessity, but the fighting was over. The dam stood half-complete and the river unexploited.
Ford saw this as an opportunity to combine several of his ideals. Here he could push his pacifist tendencies, ideas for new urban design, opposition to the gold standard, and distaste for Wall Street (largely based on his offensive anti-Semitic views). All of these threads came to bear on the as-yet-nonexistent town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Read more
Authors Note: I’m taking a bit of a hiatus for January to get ahead on my researching and writing, as well as my classwork, but I didn’t want to leave nothing for a month. Here’s a little something about a book that I read last semester.
D.J. Waldie’s Holy Land describes a city that may not be of the future, per se, but was certainly a utopia to some. Waldie grew up and still lives in a tract home in Lakewood, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. Built in the years after World War II, Lakewood was the second “new” suburb in the United States, following in the footsteps of Levittown, New York. The book itself is a lyrical examination of a life in a place, and a place through the lives in it.
Seestadt Aspern, literally the seaside city at Aspern, is home to Smart City Wien’s large-scale experiments. The planned community of 20,000 people in the northeast corner of Vienna will be completed in 2028. Much like Masdar City, Aspern aims to act as a “living laboratory” to prove various new technologies, from smart electric meters to entire smart energy grids. Aspern Smart City Research (ASCR), the company in charge of research in Aspern, sorts its projects into four “Smart” areas: Building, Grid, User, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Vienna, Austria stands apart from other cities I have written about in a number of ways:
- It’s the first–although probably not the last–I’ve noted that existed well before being envisioned as a city of the future.
- It’s one of the most successful cities in the world. It is widely recognized both for its exceptional quality of life and, more recently, as one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world.
However, such a community still faces problems. The Smart City Wien (literally, Smart City Vienna) initiative, created in 2011, lays out the issues of the modern city and Vienna’s commitment to solving them.
Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities have inspired almost every aspect of modern urban planning. Most suburbs, and many cities, draw on bits and pieces of the design. There are a number who have actually aspired, at least in name, to be true garden cities. It is worth noting that very few have even attempted Howard’s drastic economic and social ideas, and those that did abandoned them not long after founding.
The full list and map of “official” garden cities according to the International Garden Cities Institute, can be found here, but here I’ll just be looking at a few I find interesting.