New buildings are a threat to the city’s landscape

Urban planner Reinhard Seiß has criticized the flood of “poorly designed new buildings”. The city does not pay attention to the visual appearance away from the city center. “People say you want diversity, you don’t want to disturb the architects’ creativity. But the fact that they are not always the best architects, and this is driving the real estate industry in particular, is obviously not a major problem for Vienna. ” As an example, he cited the conversion of a loft in Penzing, which extends over three Gründerzeit buildings.

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“Vienna Today”, May 26, at 19.00, ORF2

All in all, he told “Vienna today” about “a small catastrophe of the disfigurement and devaluation of the historic building tissue.” The old structure of the building should be handled more sustainably and carefully. The tastes of the people of Grätzel are different: one woman says, “It’s terrible because it doesn’t fit in with it,” others say that they are “delighted” with the yellow color.

There would be no architectural competitions

In Vienna, MA19, the magistrate for architecture and town planning, is responsible for approving new buildings and conversions. Architects’ plans are approved together with the building inspectorate. Optics does not play a major role, it has been criticized.

Especially in the event of an attic conversion, the owners would be concerned about the return as as many square meters as possible should pop out, says Seiß. It is the task of the city, in particular MA19, which must take responsibility for “urban design” and organize, for example, architectural competitions. There would also be no independent design advisory board in Vienna. Seiß made a comparison with the city of Salzburg, where each individual project is architecturally assessed.

Demand for an advisory committee project

In addition to Reinhard Seiß, Georg Scherer is also critical of the Viennese building culture. He also called for the establishment of an independent and permanent advisory commission on design in Vienna. In his blog “Vienna Look” he deals in detail with the Viennese city landscape. “In my home, in the fourth district, I noticed, especially in the lane, that one house after another was being demolished and that the buildings that were built later are simply not in a comparable relationship anymore,” says Scherer.

According to Scherer, the design council would ensure that old buildings are renovated more often than demolished. “In Salzburg it works very well, and if Vienna had the same regulations as Salzburg, most of the demolitions would probably not have happened.” Speculation with real estate, i.e. real estate owned by private or commercial investors, whose goal is to profit from a transaction, is also a huge problem for the real estate market. For Scherer, it would be important to “design new things well and, above all, keep the old ones.”

ORF / Carmen Ludwig

The old building at Albrechtskreithgasse in the 16th arrondissement had to give way to this new building together with an inn

“We are not the police of taste”

With the approximately 6,000 projects that MA19 evaluates each year, it is not possible to study every redevelopment or new building in detail, MA19 said in an interview with Vienna Today. Architects’ plans are approved together with the building inspectorate. It is necessary to abide by the Viennese building law, which states that “buildings from the outside must not disturb the uniform layout of the local city landscape”.

“For us, the question of whether it is beautiful or rough is not decisive. We are not the taste police. For us, the question is whether the framework conditions, the criteria of the building regulations that relate to the project are met, ”explained Franz Kobermaier, MA19 manager. The idea is for buildings to fit into the city’s landscape in terms of scale, design, material and color.

According to the head of MA 19, the basic conditions for the property on Albrechtskreithgasse were met, as the windows are in line with the neighboring houses. The residential building does not disturb the cityscape, but it does disturb the neighbor who thinks it is speculative real estate. At least from the outside it does not look inhabited, only one balcony is furnished. “We’ve lost a clever inn in the whole district, and instead it’s a superfluous place.”

DC Tower and DC Tower III, under construction on the right


MA19 presents plans for high-rise buildings to an external panel of experts

Cityscape wants to “go with the times”

In Vienna, an independent design advisory board would also have an impact on major projects. Each year, a panel of experts presents some 150 plans. “It depends on the situation. For example, the location of the building, whether it is part of the world’s cultural heritage, and advisors are also presented with high-rise buildings, and often also projects in protected zones that want to implement a special idea – says Kobermaiera.

In fact, the city would like to “go with the times” when it comes to appearance, “the tastes are just different”. Kobermaier believes that the color selection for the roof extension in Albrechtskreithgasse is contemporary and is confident that “the extension can be approved”. It will not be up to them to express an optical judgment in the administration.

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