Fueling the Vienna Prater

This studio – sponsored by the municipal government of Vienna – will develop programmatic and design ideas on the urban design and architectural scale for the site south of the projected Vienna exhibition center in the Vienna Prater, the largest recreational area of the city. Program, urban form, and architectural expression, and the relation of the site to the existing, shall be worked on in an iterative mode. The present situation of circulation and interconnection shall be taken into account on a citywide scale and on a local level. We will define strategies that enhance communication between existing segments of use in the Prater, respecting issues of implementation and equity. Viennese architects, Gustav Peichl and Christoph Lechner, will share the work as instructors for the studio. A sponsored trip to Vienna during spring break and a publication of the design work is planned. The Larger Project Area:The area of the Vienna Prater is the most important recreational zone of the city. The Prater is a major part of the city\’s visual and atmospheric identity, containing the largest park of the city as well as various recreational and sports facilities and the Vienna exhibition center. The gate to the Prater area is the Volksprater or the Wurstelprater – Vienna\’s traditional fun fair comparable to the Copenhagen Tivoli or the former Coney Island. The landmark of the Prater is a giant wheel (Riesenrad) built by English engineers on the occasion of the Vienna Universal Exhibition in 1873.In general, the Prater functions fairly well as a traditional recreational area, yet many of the Prater\’s facilities seem outdated. The municipal government, who is the major landowner, continuously maintained and upgraded the existing infrastructure in order to keep the Prater as attractive as possible. Due to tough competition from newly erected large-scale fairs in Germany, the Vienna fair was knocked from the market so it was appropriate to develop a totally new concept for the site which would cater to a specific market. The new fair concept half of the existing land of the fair property is not needed anymore and shall be developed as a 21st-century Viennese entertainment zone. The area will be served with a new underground line and two new stations. The Specific Project Area:The physical site as such is clearly defined as a rectangle of 600 meters by 200 meters. The municipal government designates the site at large as an entertainment zone with a spectrum of adjacent uses – yet the studio allows freedom for students to develop their individual programmatic concepts for the site. The position of municipal government shall be a well-cushioned point of departure.The new urban precinct shall act as a revitalization for the whole Prater with the goal that it will trigger synergies and be a new attraction for visitors from all over the world. Vienna is a city known for its cultural life and history; tourism is a major industry, so the city understands that it is necessary to create new attractions to keep Vienna on the billboard. One large cultural project in the center of the city – the new museum quarter MUQUA – has recently opened, but there was no Bilbao effect. The Prater project is dedicated to promoting tourism and creating a trademark attraction in Vienna.