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Lofts in Transition

Living and working space for 40,000 people will be created in Aspern Seestadt during the course of the next decade.

The project that is evolving there right now is huge. Ingrid Spörk, from the development company Wien 3420, explains what is currently happening in Seestadt and why artists are so important there.

Seestadt offers invitations to many artists. Why are they so important to you?

There were already performances here before the first digger had arrived. Back then, we wanted, as it were, to create an image of the future Seestadt. Our aim was to develop visions. Working together with creative people was a good way of getting things going. Over time, this cooperation has even intensified. We always had a lot of art in the public realm because we also wanted to reflect upon how the place was changing. A good example of this is Reinhold Zisser’s “Notgalerie”, a former temporary church that was used to invite young artists and their work to Seestadt.

How do the local residents react to all this?

Very positively. Everything on offer is interactive. We have always paid great attention to directly involving the new residents of Seestadt. In the seeLab, a research and development laboratory for media art, we have often worked with residents and developed subjects together. There have been street performances and concerts with electronic music, the objective of which was to encourage young people to simply come and take a look at Seestadt. Diversity is very important to us. The fact that we offer a broad range – for people from Seestadt and for those who come from the rest of Vienna and the wider region.

Photo: Max Reinhold

Ho Ho Vienna, Photo: Daniel Hawelka

That sounds cool. But isn’t Seestadt far from being finished?

No, we’re still growing strongly, dynamically. And there are further urban development projects around Seestadt – the entire area is booming. This is why young artists are also so important. We want to use art to strengthen the integration of the new arrivals to the district. Cultural events offer people an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas.

Photo: Si Mshot

Are artists excited by the fact that the area isn’t yet fully developed?

Totally. We often receive the feedback that this transitional situation is inspiring. Such caesuras in a development are particularly interesting to artists. Here, you can see how urban qualities and open space grow together. The strengths of both worlds: the rhythms of the urban metropolis and a closeness to nature. The area to the south of the lake is already densely populated. The Lakeside Park Quarter, where the Bank Austria Studios are also located, is being gradually completed right now. But even here it’s important to us not to prescribe everything. To ensure that some space is still available for non-commercial and cultural activities. Are you acquainted with the Impulsräume at Sonnenallee 26?

No, what’s that?

It’s a pretty unique project. The Impulsräume are located on the ground floor of a parking garage. Why there? They have huge windows, which also make them very inviting. They can be used for a range of activities, as neighbourhood spaces, for example, where clubs and initiatives from Seestadt and the surrounding area can be active. Or as studios for artists. New districts in particular often suffer from a lack of empty spaces, because everything’s in use. But we believe that it is exactly such free spaces that make a city exciting and surprising.

Sirius Seestadt Aspern, Photo: Kurt Hörbst

Photo: Daniel Hawelka