#kommraus — Forum Öffentlicher Raum on Vienna Public Space presents their program.
It’s a bright, breezy day in early May on Stephansplatz, and visitors fill the square, wandering in and out of the Cathedral or gazing up at the soaring Gothic façade, while ticket sellers in frock coats hawk chamber concerts of Mozart and Strauss. Others are sitting out at one of the several cafés with a coffee or a glass of wine, or are stretched out on a marble bench with an ice cream cone, while a group of students are gathering for rally on climate change scheduled for 16:00. In other words, it’s a day like any other, a perfect example of what public spaces are for, and that the team behind #kommraus – Forum Öffentlicher Raum on Vienna Public Space wishes to encourage.
Inspired by the Strategic Paper on Public Space released last year by the MA19, Vienna’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design, the Forum seeks to show how the city envisions the future of public space in Vienna, presenting their upcoming program with a walking tour, and welcoming all to contribute.
“There will be more and more people living in cities in the 21st century,” says project coordinator Barbara Slotta of the MA18, the Department of Urban Development and City Planning, as we walk along. Vienna – dubbed “the most livable city in the world” – without question has a high standard of living. But the pressures of climate change and a growing population make public space an increasingly precious and limited resource. This makes “public space a platform of democracy in every day life,” says Slotta.
“Walkers vote more progressively than car drivers,” adds external curator Eugene Quinn of Space and Place. A self-declared urbanist, DJ, and urban explorer who walks an average of 10 km per day, he leads off-the-beaten-path walking tours like the famed Vienna Ugly, a showcase of some of the more questionable architectural gems of the city.
As we snake through Vienna’s streets, squares, and parks, Quinn talks about four key themes that contribute to the enjoyment of public space: water, shade, benches and play areas. These elements are especially relevant with the onset of climate change, migration, population growth and other factors affecting urban settings. Stopping at Karlsplatz, we see all four elements on stark display: Visitors sit on the steps of the large round pool, children tear around several playgrounds beneath the chestnut trees, and families, groups of friends and lone newspaper readers occupy park benches while the baroque Karlskirche serves as a backdrop to the sunny, friendly scene.
The Forum Öffentlicher Raum wants to encourage people to engage with the public space around them. “We want to use the language: ‘opening’ the streets, not ‘closing’ them,” explains Slotta. “The way we build and interact with our cities is largely influenced by the language we use.” #kommraus (meaning #come outside in English) is the hashtag used to entice people to get out and engage in activities all over Vienna during the forum, like massive outdoor dance parties or dining from tables in the middle of the street.
The free 3-day forum will be an opportunity for people to celebrate and explore Vienna’s public space, participate in open debate, join solutions-focused discussions, and network with city officials and stakeholders who help decide how public space is used and interpreted.
Various events include Quinn’s DJ set of music from or about Vienna in the funky Brunnenpassage on May 16, which doubles as the forum’s opening. The following night, an outdoor concert with excerpts from Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss Jr. will take place at the Albertina, with the Filmmuseum simultaneously showcasing a mashup of films and music videos on Viennese public space from 1896 to 2011.
Check out their program at kommraus.wien for more information on workshops, walkshops, nightwalks, events, and showings!
May 16-18, various locations. kommraus.wien