Turning houses around is gentrification

The city Vienna and the gentrification. Or: Why do I also hope that von Thunen's city model will not come true

So today was the day. There was the first citizens' dialogue on the new urban development plan in Vienna. An event of the City of Vienna, led by Maria Vassilakou, in which citizens should actively participate in the design of STEP 2025. Lived democracy, so. At least on paper. But more on that later. Here are a few general - personal - impressions of the event.

The location

The dialogue “Vienna where? Developing the City ”at the Odeon in Vienna. When I come in the hall is packed. I later find out that more than 350 people have come. There are no more seats. The moderator kindly points out that you can also sit on the floor in front or on the armchairs behind her on the stage - nobody does. After a brief welcome statement from the Vice Mayor, filled with green campaign demands such as affordable housing, a car-free city and - no surprise - citizen participation, the format is briefly explained. And then you can start. First item on the program: expert input.

The inputs

The four inputs are designed for seven minutes each. Ultimately, only two of the four speakers will adhere to this. Three of the four inputs remain very general, one becomes very - almost too - specific. The three general ones revolve around the “social dimension of the city” (in the end it should only be a brief explanation of demographic and segregation-related trends in Vienna), Freiraum (an academic input on the relationship between social values ​​and open spaces), and after all, something with redensification, green space, asphalt and high-rise buildings - it remains unclear to me until the end. Finally, the fourth post - the one that is a little too special - deals with the relationship between architecture and education. There was probably another lecture in the drawer ...

It is nice to hear that - albeit timidly - there are a few critical notes. At one point the word righteousness is even mentioned. The speaker presses around a bit and almost apologizes for bringing it up on the wall. She says that she just dares to speak this big word now. She briefly mentions the question of losers in urban development. It almost seems critical to me. It is definitely something special to hear something critical from official speakers at events organized by the City of Vienna on the subject of urban development. At one of the last events that the Europaforum organized for the city - visions for living or something - I had to grin very much about it. Mr Wurm, the spokesman for the non-profit property developer, was invited. All speakers should only speak for 4-5 minutes. Mr. Wurm wanted to justify his short presentation a bit because he would leave out a lot. He said that he left everything critical out of the presentation in accordance with the organizers' specifications. Hihi. A rogue. Reveal everything. Today said a righteousness. But we were already there. Next item on the program: the citizens' dialogue.

The Citizens' Dialogue 1

After the inputs, the dialogue really starts. It should be coordinated with electronic devices from the audience. The questions are displayed at the front. Not all have devices. Neither do I. The presenter tries to joke a bit to cover up the fact that apparently many cannot vote at all. There are then three questions. Redensification or building on the green field? Is Growth Good For Quality Of Life Or Not? And then my highlight: Should the City of Vienna invest massively in educational, leisure and social infrastructure in the next few years? I feel a bit like the referendum. The question is a little suggestive. The moderator also notices. Laugh a little. People mumble. A couple laugh. But it will be voted on. The result is uninteresting. As are the questions. There are a few younger people sitting next to me who are laughing too. Go on. Next item on the program: the Citizens' Dialogue 2.

The Citizens' Dialogue 2

Now there are two rounds of questions from the audience to the experts. After all. At the Wohnvision event, questions were explicitly prohibited - “not part of the format”. Nevertheless, questions should remain, not statements. “No presentations,” warns the moderator.

The question and answer session is slowly getting underway. It revolves a bit about a citizens' council - probably another participation body from which a few people are there. Then a little something about dedications and a lack of participation in projects “on the meadows”. The subject is very broad. So are the questions. The young man next to me is sliding around. He really wants to say something. Briefly consults with his neighbor. "Shall we?". "Yes sure." It will take a while before he can say something. The longer the question and answer session, the more critical the messages become. Most of the applause goes to a man who points out the stupidity of the voting questions. “Please intelligent questions”. Then the somewhat more critical requests to speak: Sealing of areas, displacement from Wilhelminian-style districts, and my neighbor with a question about open spaces for agricultural initiatives. A gentleman who starts to address an - almost radical - question about unemployment is interrupted by the moderator. “Your minute is up”. Then the answers of the experts.

The Citizens' Dialogue 3

The answers of the experts - the four speakers plus Vassilakou - are short. You don't have a lot of time. The second moderator - some ORF guy - misjudges his role a bit and judges which questions he allows, because he considers them to be relevant to urban development. How can the city secure jobs? “Probably no influence of the city - I therefore consider it irrelevant”. Totally out of place.

Then the speaker with justice is asked to say something about the subject of repression. She almost apologizes again for naming it. But thinks it's important. But maybe not justice as a goal. Maybe it's more about preventing injustice. Hmm Everyone would sign it then. Who is for injustice please?

Then the vice mayor should summarize what she has taken with her. The whole thing should flow into the constitution of the urban development plan - that was the target at the beginning of the evening. She tends not to take the voting questions with her. She apologizes a little for the suggestive question about public investments. “I find it a bit strange too”. I find that kind of strange now. Isn't it your event? Why does she find the questions funny? Well She summarizes. Funny. She takes with her exactly what she said at the beginning. Affordable living, citizen participation ... and she emphasizes that citizen participation is difficult. Thanks. You should write in the STEP.

The highlight

The highlight comes before Vassilakou's closing speech. The “dialogue”, which was never a dialogue because no one in the audience who asked a question could react to the answer, is already over at this point. Questions from the audience are no longer allowed. Then the “technical director” of town planning appears briefly. Mr. Madreiter. Introduces himself as the head of the planning group in the building department. Before that, the speaker with Justice just said the injustice matter.

What is Mr. Madreiter taking with him? I'm curious. He is direct. Says what's up. I find it good. Justice? Yes, of course you already think about that in the city. We want it to be fair. And then: You know, he says, you have to see that a location policy is ultimately important. It is in everyone's interest that every location is used as effectively as possible. The locations with the best equipment should be used in the best possible way.

The thing with von Thünen

Ha, so it's out now. I think of an article on gentrification. From Tom Slater. Such a British geographer. Critical type. Really now. The article is called: Why I want the von Thünen model to become not true. Von Thünen designed this neoclassical ring model of cities. The most expensive uses inside, sloping towards the outside. The political implication? If we organize the city so that the best use is in the inner city, the poor live on the outskirts, the rich in the city. Sure, the rich can pay more. The luxury penthouse is better used than the municipal housing. That is why Slater thinks he wants the model not to become true. Me neither. Madreiter probably already.

The guy next to me laughs. Vassilakou wants a final vote. She wants it without a voting machine. Show with. Do you want a city center without cars? Indeed, people do vote. One of the audience shouts that the question is intelligent. Vassilakou is satisfied. I go.

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