Urban Design Studio Velocity

Implementing Vienna’s cycle way network: during the winter semester 2012/2013, the Department of Landscape Planning and Garden Design and IVV TU Wien (Research Center of Transport Planning and Traffic Engineering of Vienna University of Technology) organised a practice-oriented design course for students of architecture, civil engineering and spatial planning with a focus on continuing the cycle way along the Wien River bed.

Premise
The City of Vienna is interested in stepping up its activities to promote cycling as a sustainable and eco-friendly form of locomotion. After appointing a Cycling Co-ordinator in winter 2011 and the temporary institution of the Cycling House in April 2012, the City Administration has succeeded in bringing Velo-city 2013 with the motto “The Sound of Cycling. Urban Cycling Cultures” to Vienna. It is the ambitious goal of the provincial government to double the share of bike traffic by 2015 (see newspaper “Der Standard.at” of 29 March 2012).
The western gateway to Vienna plays a decisive role for the entire cycle way network of the city.
The first section of this cycling route from the weir zone to the pedestrian bridge Hackingersteg was upgraded by Municipal Department 45 in 2006. Through a co-operation of Municipal Departments 29 and 45, the cycle way along the bed of Wien River was extended to Kennedy Bridge in 2010. The newly-created space along the riverbed is open to different user groups, thereby providing added value beyond efficient bike access. In addition to cyclists, it is hence possible to observe joggers, walkers or young children trying to learn to ride a bike or use roller skates. This open space is used intensively both in the daytime and during evening hours.

Task
It was the subject of this one-semester design class to propose ideas for the continuation of the Wien River Valley cycle way following the riverbed in the city-bound direction, a section where the discharge conduit runs centrally and the canal cross-section becomes narrower. The task involved the following aspects: definition of the exact route and division into individual sections, hook-up to existing cycle way network and practical implementation of this link, and ensuring usability of the thus created open space along Wien River.

Structure of semester
The semester proved a challenging but also a very enriching experience for both students and teachers; however, it proved necessary during the initial phase to first develop an inter-departmental work approach. After a kick-off lecture, in which Thomas Berger of Municipal Department 18 highlighted the potentials and problems of the existing western cycle way route into Vienna and the teachers sketched the task at hand, student working groups were set up to first of all develop presentations on such diverse issues as the history of bicycle traffic planning, the “car culture vs. bike culture” debate in Vienna, safety and security aspects along the Wien River bed as well as bicycle infrastructure and traffic safety. The eight issues covered by these presentations were developed over the span of two weeks; in addition, each group also prepared a digital presentation and a poster, which were then submitted to all students of the group and provided the technical basis for the design class. In the meantime, the students and teachers had taken a close look at the existing western cycle way route into Vienna on-site (by riding bikes) and reflected on potential improvements.

  

To obtain a clearer understanding of the complex aspects of planning for the Wien River bed, a kick-off lecture was given in the fourth week of the semester. During this lecture, Christa Illera spoke about her longstanding research into anxiety-inducing spaces while Tadej Brezina reported on bicycle traffic planning. This was followed by a four-week intensive work period used for brainstorming and defining the layout of the future cycle way and the spatial characteristics of its design; moreover, the students discussed their results in weekly revision meetings with their teachers. During an intermediate stocktaking on 3 December, the students prepared posters and presented their results to a guest jury (composed of Christoph Chorherr of the Green Party, Thomas Berger of Municipal Department 18, Franz Blaha of Municipal Department 29 and Markus Hoffmann of the Institute of Transportation (ISTU) of Vienna University of Technology). This event proved particularly valuable, as it enabled the students to integrate the criticism voiced by the guest jurors into their work and hence to deepen their design approach in the remaining weeks of the semester.

Results
The results of the students’ work provide a valuable basis for continuing the discussion conducted within the Vienna City Administration regarding the viability of a western bike gateway extending from Kennedy Bridge in the city-bound direction within the bed of Wien River.
Most designs propose solutions in which the cycle way runs along HQ 100 (this value is indicative of flood events occurring only once every 100 years). The advantages of these solutions lie on the one hand in the safety aspect for the population and on the other hand in lower cost and reduced land consumption in building the ramps. One sole contribution looks at the possibility of continuing the cycle way within the riverbed and intensively addresses the safety measures that would be required for this option. The central theme of this proposal is the benefit to be derived from creating “quasi-natural” open spaces in a densely developed city.
With particular stringency, one design addresses the planning of the new cycle way route along Wien River on the one hand and the improvement of the current western gateway route on the other hand. Other contributions try to define the new route through identity-fostering design elements as a high-quality urban space that is open to a wealth of different forms of use. In this way, open spaces would be created that not only prove of benefit for cyclists but for all citizens of Vienna.
All contributions submitted by the students not only deal with the problem posed by the cycle way route design but aim to generate more vibrancy and greater potential for the scarce public space in the city. Some contributions intensively focus on historical and delicate sites, such as Schönbrunner Schlossbrücke and the debouchment of Wien River into Danube Canal. Other students suggested exciting and innovative solutions to create useable open spaces around Naschmarkt.

Mistelbauer+Wimmer – “Renn [Rad] Weg” (click preview banner to see full image).

Niel+Treml – “Kommt Zeit Kommt Rad” (click preview banner to see full image).

Koppold+Sageder – “Velowien – Fluss zum Genuss” (click preview banner to see full image).

Glatz+Scholz+Tschanter – “Wien.Rad.Fluss” (click preview banner to see full image)

Aschauer+Morawetz+Polacek – “High-Low” Poster 1 (click preview banner to see full image)

Aschauer+Morawetz+Polacek – “High-Low” Poster 2 (click preview banner to see full image)

Conclusion
Due to interdepartmental participation and the co-operation with Municipal Departments 18, 29 and 45, the course, which was concluded in late January, proved stimulating as well as technically productive. I would like to express my thanks to all students and colleagues who made this event possible.

Visit the website of the interdepartmental urban design studio “Velocity” with all projects (German).


Velo-city 2013 Vienna | Cycling Stories
Author:
Annalisa Mauri
Vienna University of Technology
Department of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture