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Positions on the Production of Urbanity. The aspern Advisory Board

Positions on the Production of Urbanity The aspern Advisory Board INTRODUCTION PERIODS OF THE ADVISORY BOARD PERIOD 1: Rudolf Scheuvens (chairperson) Ingrid Breckner (deputy chairperson) Alois
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Positions on the Production of Urbanity The aspern Advisory Board INTRODUCTION PERIODS OF THE ADVISORY BOARD PERIOD 1: Rudolf Scheuvens (chairperson) Ingrid Breckner (deputy chairperson) Alois Aigner Andrea Cejka Peter Holzer Franz Kobermaier Mario Rehulka Johannes Tovatt PERIOD 2: Rudolf Scheuvens (chairperson) Ingrid Breckner (deputy chairperson) Andrea Cejka Carl Fingerhuth Mario Rehulka Silja Tillner Bernd Vogl PERIOD 3: Angelika Fitz Christa Reicher Stefan Rotzler Oliver Schulze Silja Tillner Bernd Vogl 2 the aspern advisory board INTRODUCTION After four years and/or two periods of work of the aspern Advisory Board, and with the realisation of the first large construction stage in the south of aspern, the publication at hand intends to show the process of becoming a city in an exemplary manner and to illustrate the procedure in the transition from planning to realisation, in quality assurance. This shall not be carried out in the form of project documentation or evalution (for which it is too early by the way) but by means of subjective perspectives on the process and its relevance for the future. The mosaic of these different positions shall give an impression of where aspern Urban Lakeside is standing today and into which direction it will develop in addition to perceptions on site which will become possible over the coming months. The subjective positions which will be put up for discussion in the following come from two fields: First in the section The aspern Advisory Board about Urban Lakeside from (former and present) members of the Advisory Board themselves who deal with different aspects of urban construction at Urban Lakeside, and describe significant individual projects for the new urban area in short project texts. The selection of projects is also not representative but likewise subjective; yet it is also to explain the spectrum of things currently happening at Urban Lakeside. These project texts are supported by photographs by Wolfgang Thaler which were taken in early 2015, when many of the projects addressed were still construction sites. The photos were taken with a super high camera stand from a height of six to eight metres, which creates a view on the city and the landscape that is alienated from eye level, abstracted, and in a certain sense cleared. And, secondly, they come in the section Professional Perspectives from experts in different disciplines who professionally deal with Urban Lakeside in the one or other way, and illustrate the points of view they have won in the process in a series of interviews; from employees of the development company, Wien 3420 Aspern Development AG, who explain their personal commitment in short texts; and in the section Perspectives on Site from individuals who work or live at Urban Lakeside and share their views in photo interviews. The portraits and pictures of places at Urban Lakeside created in the process have been taken by Luiza Puiu. The texts in this publication have been written by a large number of authors, they represent the pluralism of positions on aspern Urban Lakeside. To that effect, their linguistic idiosyncrasy has been preserved, as shown among other things by the fact that gender-related wordings have been used very differently. The publication is introduced and concluded with texts that are supposed to serve as a content bracket: The introductory text about the work of the aspern Advisory Board is to make clear in which context the positions of the members of the Advisory Board have been developed (further), and the final contribution, learning with Urban Lakeside manifests the attempt of a first evaluation of the production of urbanity. the aspern advisory board 3 ALL DESIGNATIONS RELATED TO PERSONS ARE GENDER-NEUTRAL OR HAVE TO BE UNDERSTOOD IN A GENDER-NEUTRAL WAY CONTENTS THE WORK OF THE ASPERN ADVISORY BOARD... 6 THE ASPERN ADVISORY BOARD ABOUT URBAN LAKESIDE PROFESSIONAL PERSPECTIVES WIEN 3420 AG FACE-TO-FACE PERSPECTIVES ON SITE INNOVATION IN URBAN PLANNING LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS THE WORK OF THE ASPERN ADVISORY BOARD THE ASPERN ADVISORY BOARD PROCESSUAL INNOVATION IN URBAN PLANNING ROBERT TEMEL In early 2015, the aspern Advisory Board finds itself at the end of its second period and can look back at one first realised section of Urban Lakeside which has been built with the help of its professional support. For this reason, the first four years of this advisory board s work itself shall be thematised in the following. NEW INSTRUMENTS It has already been discussed for a long time that the area zoning and development plan as employed in Vienna only allows for a very restricted spectrum of urban planning determinations. For this reason, forms of quality assurance going beyond this were discussed off and on in the past, and tested in the frame of pilot projects for example, in the cooperative expert tender Aspern Airfield in the early 1990s, or with Cable Works Vienna only a few years later. At aspern Urban Lakeside, the concept of quality assurance in urban planning consists for the first time in Vienna of three elements that amend the area zoning and development plan: of the development company, Wien 3420 Aspern Development AG, which sells plots of land yet does not decide on the basis of purely economic criteria but also of criteria concerning urban planning, supports the development beyond the closing date of the sale, and employs a variety of different procedures of project selection and support; of development guidelines for the individual plots of land; and of the quality assurance body called aspern Advisory Board. On the one hand, the concept of the aspern Advisory Board was guided by similar bodies in other European areas of urban development such as the Quality Team in Rotterdam s city district of Kop van Zuid. On the other, it was guided by the principle of the architectural advisory board as it is common in Western Austria in many municipalities and cities yet with the crucial difference that the aspern Advisory Board does not primarily deal with architectural design but with urban planning. According to this, the public space, the orientation of the buildings towards it, and the interaction between these two aspects are at the centre of attention. With this, the Advisory Board, which had its inaugural meeting in December 2010, continued, so to speak, the intensive debate around drafting the master plan tender procedure and developing the master plan of aspern Urban Lakeside in a broadly conceived and collaborative manner. To be sure, design is also a subject but not only; questions of usage, permeability, and operations as well. The Advisory Board is concerned with: 1. aspects of urban planning (inclusion, free space, appearance, access to the public space, spatial & functional aspects etc), 2. contributions to the aspirations of Urban Lakeside (energy, climate protection, mobility, etc), and 3. processual aspects and aspects of implementation (financing, key figures, etc). (Quoted from the minutes of the first meeting in 2011) 6 the aspern advisory board THE WORK OF THE ASPERN ADVISORY BOARD To that effect, the Advisory Board is not only concerned with architectural projects but a large part of the project discussions deals with designing the public space: parks, squares, streets. This is related to the fact that at aspern Urban Lakeside such great attention to the public space has been placed in an area of urban expansion like never before in Vienna. There have been smaller or larger calls for tenders for each and every park and square, and landscape architects have been specifically commissioned for the design of the primary streets. Thus the aspern Advisory Board is an advisory board for quality assurance in urban planning for aspern Urban Lakeside which previously did not exist in Austria in this form. Pursuant to its approach, the Advisory Board had to be assembled in an interdisciplinary manner. Members of the first period were Rudolf Scheuvens (urban planning/ public space), Ingrid Breckner (sociology), Andrea Cejka (landscape architecture), Mario Rehulka (commercial and international affairs), Alois Aigner (real estate industry), Peter Holzer (energy), Franz Kobermaier (architecture) and Johannes Tovatt (urban construction and architecture). After two years, half of the members left the board; the new members who replaced the four last-mentioned ones were Carl Fingerhuth (urban construction and architecture), Silja Tillner (architecture), and Bernd Vogl (energy). SELF-CONCEPTION As this specific form of quality assurance was an innovation, it was about wording its own framework conditions when the Advisory Board set to work. What about the tasks, but above all too: What about the role and the approach of the aspern Advisory Board? The Advisory Board has been appointed by the Wien 3420 Aspern Development AG. It is responsible for the development of aspern Vienna s Urban Lakeside and the central point of contact for potential project bidders. Wien 3420 does location marketing, acquires partners, and puts land to use. The aspern Advisory Board has the task to advise Wien 3420 and to give recommendations, whereby it decides independently from its commissioner. This perspective, which is separated from day-to-day business and is based on the fundamental concepts of the master plan as well as on the principles of the represented disciplines, was to strengthen the quality of urban planning in the development area, whereby legally binding provisions can only be established by the development company alone, based on recommendations made by the aspern Advisory Board. On the one hand, this non-binding nature entailed that the Advisory Board was not successful in all of its concerns Yet, on the other, it ensured at the same time that the discussions between project operators and the aspern Advisory Board were not so much of an evaluative nature but often turned into a joint search for possible improvements. the aspern advisory board 7 THE WORK OF THE ASPERN ADVISORY BOARD The list of task of the Advisory Board is long it has to: - review guidelines, - suggest competitive tendering procedures and help develop new ones, - coordinate tenders, - recommend participants for competitive tendering procedures - send jury members to competitive tendering procedures, - review projects - make recommendations for the allocation of real estate, - accompany the planning stage of projects and word requirements, - review measures of the mobility fund, - and advise the WIEN 3420 AG in questions of location development. This task list suggested by the commissioner was expanded by further items by the aspern Advisory Board itself in one of its first meetings: - working out models for monitoring and evaluation, - developing further the quality assurance procedure, - coordination with other boards - and a report to the public once a year. The results with regard to these tasks are heterogeneous. The main part of the Advisory Board s work consisted of examining projects and discussing questions of urban planning that went beyond the project level, hence e.g. developing further the Master Plan North, or the one of the Lake Park Quarter, which had formerly been called Innovation Quarter. As there was a number of other quality assurance procedures in place at Urban Lakeside beside the Advisory Board, letting its members participate in these procedures, and thus (above all informal) coordinating between different bodies, was an important aspect of the Advisory Board s work. Compared to this, subjects such as guidelines, drafting competitive tendering procedures, coordinating tenders, and recommending participants for competitive tendering procedures rather receded into the background. From the self-selected tasks that the Advisory Board newly added, it has hardly been able to discharge the ones dealing with the subjects of monitoring and evaluation , developing further the quality assurance procedure , and report to the public so far. Although the emphasis of the aspern Advisory Board, similar to the one of architectural advisory boards, has been described as project assessment and evaluation , its work does not only differ with regard to the subject urban planning instead of architecture but also with regard to the approach. While elaborated plans of architectural projects are usually presented to an architectural advisory board, which the respective body has to assess, the aspern Advisory Board is understood as a co-developer , so to speak, with regard to urban planning, as a sparring partner as Chairman Rudolf Scheuvens once put it, i.e. as a critical helper and challenging supporter. This is why the aspern Advisory Board should also see the projects to be presented as early as possible, hence in the stage of the first design proposals and not in already elaborated form in order to be able to discuss important basic elements of the project as long as they can still be changed. This often led to misunderstandings on the part of guests of the Advisory Board who presented their projects because one is not used to this in this country, and in Vienna in particular, with its large number of advisory boards that always review extensively elaborated projects. Architects and project developers who present their projects to such a body in Vienna assume that they get a clear signal in the sense of thumbs up or thumbs down , passed or failed, when they have finished the presentation. This has never been the case in the aspern Advisory Board but the Advisory Board wanted to discuss the elements of the project related to urban planning and make clear in the course of the discussion which of these elements could require further steps, and into which direction these should go. 8 the aspern advisory board THE WORK OF THE ASPERN ADVISORY BOARD Accordingly, the procedure of project discussions in the Advisory Board was determined in 2011: Project documentation is available for the members of the Advisory Board in advance. During the meeting, there is an initial internal discussion of the Advisory Board with sales representatives of Wien 3420 AG, the client managers , dealing with the subjects, questions, and specific conditions of the particular project. Then the project bidders come along, make a very short presentation of their project, and discuss questions on the part of the Advisory Board. Finally, after the project bidders have left the meeting, another internal discussion on how to formulate the recommendations on the project that the aspern Advisory Board has for Wien 3420 AG. STRATEGY This self-conception of a sparring partner is also a reason why the Advisory Board often dealt with the level above the individual project, with the urban area and master plan level, in order to influence the framework conditions for the individual projects at an early stage. Thus the aspern Advisory Board did not simply assume the role of mediating between the master plan, hence the urban planning framework, and the individual projects, hence the elements supposed to follow and fill this framework but considered it its task to participate in developing this framework further. It did not question the master plan but critically discussed it, developed it further. Off and on, there have also been attempts by the aspern Advisory Board to become active on the strategic level, for example, by wording a position paper on environmental sustainability, by discussing a communication strategy for the Master Plan North, by organising a workshop on the subject of typologies of residential buildings and by suggesting discussion topics such as Sustainability in the Open Space or Knowledge and the City . But due to this mode of operation of the Advisory Board and the relatively infrequent meeting dates, this field of activity has not produced comprehensive effects so far. Energy, for example, has been a strategic subject in the Advisory Board: The energy concept for Urban Lakeside was already discussed and approved in the first meetings, yet the Advisory Board also made proposals to think one step ahead, for instance by means of introducing incentive systems, and extending the latter with monitoring. For example, the contributions of all projects, which are realised by and by, should be regularly compared with a defined roadmap; overall, this would bring forth some kind of tracking of the achievement of objectives, some kind of countdown. Yet this proved to be too complex, and over the top in the face of the geothermal energy project in Eßling. For this reason, the Advisory Board focused in the discussion of the subject of energy on evaluating the qualities of the presented projects concerning this matter. As illustrated by the subject of energy, the strategic self-conception, which is absolutely in line with the mission set out by Wien 3420 AG, clearly goes beyond questions only concerning urban planning. For example, the question of ground floor usage is at stake, especially in the shopping street, mobility, or the subject of the Smart City, which is represented at aspern Urban Lakeside by the research company ASCR (Aspern Smart City Research) among others. In this context, the temporal dimension of urban development was an essential subject for the Advisory Board. Practicians in urban planning and construction largely still think in urban final conditions even today, the interim phases along the way are rather necessary evil than potential. This applies for Urban Lakeside only to a limited extent but it does. Yet the development company at least focused on the subject of temporary usage right from the beginning, and was pretty successful with this, above all in the light of its peripheral location in the city then. the aspern advisory board 9 THE WORK OF THE ASPERN ADVISORY BOARD In this context, the aspern Advisory Board for example dealt with the question how arrivals by metro would go off after it was put into operation in 2013; which situation the for the time being undeveloped centre, the future Lake Park Quarter, would offer after the opening of the first residential buildings; which information and communication offers would be important for the first residents of Urban Lakeside; and how a proper impression of the future of Urban Lakeside the north could be offered already when the southern part is finished. A concern that was sometimes expressed that the large number of projects to be discussed could compromise the examination of the strategic level in the Advisory Board has not proved to be justified so far. Anyway, what is more difficult than strategic discussion within the Advisory Board is to provide sufficient resources to the development company in order to further elaborate the strategic approaches discussed and make them operationally utilisable in the frame of the about four to five meetings per year. With regard to design too, the Advisory Board tries to take up a primarily strategic position. It leads itself back into a strategic position in its discussions time and again and tries to avoid statements about individual design questions. In the discussions on the occasion of project presentations, about issues of the public space for example, the Advisory Board does not want to deal with the design decisions themselves but rather with their strategic fundaments and to relate strategic concepts to the actual individual projects, which is difficult in practice but works out in the best moments of the discussions. A parallel to this difficulty is the discrepancy between the strategic level of the Score of the Public Space by Gehl Architects and the necessity to arrive at concrete design decisions from this level. This problem prompted the aspern Advisory Board to sucessfully demand an own internal expert for landscape architecture in order to be able to strategically cover this planning area between the necessarily infrequent meetings of the
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