Design Studio WS 09/10



Until the 19th century, the so-called “Linienwall” had a purely defensive function. It was a fortification surrounding the town, which was gradually transformed into a tax boundary for the town. The name derives from the so-called Linienämtern. These are the gates, respectively the openings inside the rampart. In the course of history, more and more suburbs were incorporated into the city and as the city grew, the Linienwall gradually lost its significance and was finally largely demolished. Only a few visible remains remain to this day. One of these remains can be found within an inner courtyard at Weyringergasse 13. This piece of Viennese architectural history is now to serve as the starting point for a design discussion. In view of the fragment, which has largely been forgotten historically, the question arises as to how such an architectural relic can and should be dealt with. The question must be answered as to what meaning this remnant can still be given within the completely changed context.


The Linienwall as a former border-forming element within the Viennese urban space seems almost forgotten today, but the fact of its mere existence triggered a wave of reactions in the course of this design program, which as a rule made a mere structural examination of the still existing fragment impossible. Rather, questions were asked about the inclusion as well as exclusion within today’s urban environment, and their respective answers influenced or initiated the supporting project approach in many cases. As a result of this circumstance, it may not seem surprising that a large number of the projects take the existing fragment of the Linienwall in Weyringergasse as an occasion to formulate current questions on the subject of urban boundaries. The strategic desire to dissolve boundaries and open up space, both with regard to the immediate built environment, i.e. the surrounding perimeter block development, as well as the larger urban context, especially with regard to overcoming the urban barrier “Gürtel” can certainly be read out as an overarching motif in the majority of cases.

According to their personal characteristics, the individual projects are either dedicated to a procedure of small-scale individual measures in relation to a strategic improvement and upgrading of existing spatial situations, or they fall back on large-scale constructional measures in order to be able to achieve an urban change “in one fell swoop”. Thus, in some cases, bridge-like structures are developed, which build over the belt locally or over long distances and thus make “new life” imaginable above this traffic route. But also fallow green areas along the former course of the rampart are taken into consideration and subsequently used for a variety of purposes. The primary goal is always to make the individual areas accessible, i.e., to make them actually usable. It is not uncommon for these building structures to be used on several levels, with the roof surface sometimes also being transformed into an “operational” surface.

Smaller-scale approaches, on the other hand, fall back on the sensitive detection of specific conditions on site and seek to filter out a concrete need for the respective location and to write this into the urban surface as a constructional offer, as it were. In this way, a local childcare center, a youth hostel-like hotel extension, an open space for restaurants or even an underground boxing ring with far-reaching views from the courtyard perspective are sometimes created in the backyard. Spatial ribbons arouse curiosity and attention, guide the visitor as well as the resident through the close-meshed path networks, and link him with the place and the network of relationships and social interactions that in many places appear to be closed.

Intergration in the broader as well as in the narrower sense emerges as a leitmotif. The inner-city integration project “Mizi” demonstrates that integration in the narrower sense could also take place in the area of the Gürtel. The project proposes a series of small-scale measures, which, like a strategy plan, strives for a targeted attempt at integration within the existing structure. The idea, based on growth, gradually changes the appearance of the surroundings and ultimately generates a lively and changeable cityscape.

Whether it is a large urban gesture or a small-scale construction measure, the designs all strive to achieve a concrete improvement in terms of the range of uses within the urban space. The fragment of the Linienwall in Weyringergasse becomes the trigger for these upcoming changes and, last but not least, stimulates a thought process that aims at overcoming former and present borders.