Why are there small cities

Who cares about small towns?

If the future of our quality of life is important to us, we should turn our gaze away from big cities towards small towns. Cities with a few thousand inhabitants are neither exciting nor chic, but they are popular. Many of them are growing all the time. This is less spectacular than in the big city, but the consequences are already. Because nobody seems to really care how these cities grow. The centers are empty or filled with questionable business ideas, banks and post offices are disappearing, shopping centers are growing on the edge and new residential buildings are monotonous or kitschy. So it's not surprising that single-family homes are popular. Land prices are low, production is ongoing and there are no good alternatives.

The Zwischenstadt is open to experiments

In the vicinity of Vienna (and other provincial capitals of Austria) there are a number of such continuously growing small towns - Wiener Neudorf, Mödling, Schwechat, Gänserndorf. What will be built there in the future? Who should live there and how? What should the city centers look like? Most of these cities are located in typical interurban areas, neither city nor country, dispersed, i.e. scattered and dominated by traffic routes. In the sense of its inventor, the German urban researcher Thomas Sieverts, interurban spaces are not only dispersed, but also open, interpretable, flexible and aesthetically indeterminate. They are difficult to use, but offer more diverse access than traditional (core) cities allow. A pleasant non-aesthetic prevails in interurban spaces. You can experiment here.

Bold concepts are needed for small towns

Urban development, spatial and regional planning do not have it easy when it comes to small towns. Most of the decisions here are politically motivated (a single-family house = two to four votes). In my opinion, what is missing are planning tools that correspond to the spontaneity and non-aesthetics of the Zwischenstadt. Participation is always good, it already partially exists, but it requires willing mayors and active citizens. Unusual programs are needed such as the supermarket on the village square instead of on the outskirts such as in Lustenau. Above all, however, the country needs new, urban forms of living, those that are really good and have enough space. This requires really good property developers and project developers. Where are the? We architects are ready! (Sabine Pollak, May 30, 2017)

Exhibition tip: The exhibition "Learning von Gänserndorf", a project by the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies at the Art University Linz, led by Sabine Pollak and Lars Moritz and funded by the Lower Austrian Housing Research Association, will open on Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 7 p.m. in the Gänserndorf Town Hall . A book was published by Sonderzahl Verlag for the exhibition.

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