More Green Open Space in a Densified City

Tillner, Silja (2014) More Green Open Space in a Densified City. REAL CORP 2014 – PLAN IT SMART! Clever Solutions for Smart Cities. Proceedings of 19th International Conference on Urban Planning, Regional Development and Information Society. pp. 407-415.

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The City of Vienna is growing rapidly by a figure of around 18,000 people a year. This steady increase in population is a positive development in the light of the many urban and rural areas in Europe where the population is declining. The growing population stimulates an increased demand for housing, social services, schools, kindergardens and open spaces. While the need for parks, squares and playgrounds is generally acknowledged, financial restrictions mean that it is fulfilled only at the minimum level required by the building code. In larger-scale newly planned districts, i.e. Seestadt Aspern, Sonnwendviertel, Karree St. Marx or Eurogate, parks are part of the masterplan and are integrated into the concepts more easily. The willingness of developers to co-finance green open spaces is greater, due to the larger economic dimensions of the developments and their investment, the percentage of the cost for urban design and landscape design, is therefore lower. But even then, the main focus of investors and architects lies on the buildings and the open spaces are often underfinanced. Furthermore, the quality of the design suffers from a lack of coordination between the different developers and architects on adjacent sites, resulting in undesigned edges and borders. In comparison smaller projects, i.e. infill developments within the existing city fabric, face extreme difficulties in attempting to meet the need for open space on already constrained urban sites. Generally, the requirements of the building code are met at a minimum level by providing a playground for small children. Sometimes just a modestly landscaped communal courtyard with insufficient sunlight is provided. From an urbanistic standpoint it is wise to increase the housing supply within the city area also, and not just on the outskirts. This is especially true as large new sites suitable for affordable housing have become scarce and now more remote sites with less favourable public transport access have to be chosen for development. Currently, non-profit developers planning affordable housing projects are confronted by the challenges presented by increasing land speculation and soaring property prices. As a result, private developers with no demand for public subsidies are better able to meet the expectations of higher land prices. Cost-intensive redevelopment projects within the city boundaries have a better chance of being economically feasible – leading to a “rebuilding- and renovation boom” of the building-stock from the end of the 19th century to the present. The city planning department aims for an equal distribution of the additional housing needed by building new developments on the outskirts and also increasing density. This concentration on densification in the inner city should, ideally, be accompanied by generous open space design – but in practical terms there are no new sites for green open spaces available. The solution therefore lies in redesigning the existing spaces in-between buildings to make them into pedestrian-friendly open spaces. This strategy can only succeed by simultaneously implementing traffic calming measures resulting in a reduction of the space used by cars. Parked cars in particular require an disproportionate amount of public space on streets. By reducing car-parking and transforming side-lanes and cul-de-sacs into pocket parks, accompanied by an increase in the area of permeable surfaces, tree-planting and greening of walls, the quality of life within the city could be improved dramatically. This is a difficult undertaking due to a strong and well-organized car-lobby supported by the trade-union; currently, this conflict of interest can be observed currently in the heated discussions regarding the proposed transformation of Mariahilfer Street into a pedestrian zone. The paper will focus on the potential for creating new open spaces by transforming existing streets and will highlight areas where this could be done in the city of Vienna, i.e. along the Ringstraße, Viennas most prestigious and well-known historic boulevard, or the Wienzeile. These streets are characterized by beautiful historic buildings, many of them famous landmarks, but the design of the space in-between the buildings still largely reflects the car-dominated traffic-planning philosophy of the 1960s. Population growth and densification should become the stimulus for rethinking the planning strategy for all public spaces in general and designing a few case-study projects in particular to showcase the enormous potential for open space supply and greening the city. Potential sites and some examples of redesign will be presented.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Densification, Open Space, Rethink Traffic Planning, Space-in-between Buildings, Street Transformation
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture
Depositing User: REAL CORP Administrator
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2016 10:43
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2016 10:43

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