Every summer for 10 years, a group of worldwide students meet for 3 weeks in Vienna to share best-practice in ecological architecture. They learn about Vienna's moves towards resilience and innovation. And of course, they learn from each other. Many of the students come from developing countries, and so this opportunity to get insights from the West, is especially valuable, since they return home with practical new ideas.
The whole project is coordinated by OeAD (Austria’s Agency for Education & Internationalisation), and features contributors like Helga Kromp-Kolb (Climate Expert, BOKU), Gabu Heindl (Architect & Urban Planner), Anika Dafert (Fridays for Future) and Nora Laufer, Der Standard's science & environment correspondent. OeAD is one of the leading European developers of passive buildings (and also plus-energy architecture), and in particular student accommodation. They run many educational projects.
For the last two years, this event moved online, and the awards night and review on the final day is hosted by Whoosh's Eugene Quinn. The weeks are always hot, lively and intense, with students absorbing so many experiences around the city, in Seestadt, BOKU, TU and the Otto Wagner Areal. Eugene is always intrigued to hear what has shocked the students about their time in Wien.
should not underestimate how important this
work is. Housing is one of the great variables in future city
this is an intelligent forum for open debate. To
learn among a supportive network is a beautiful resource,
trust and openness which is vital for a forum like this. There
is much debate among the group, as there should be, but also a new
network is born,
full of utopian inspiration.
Our age is characterised by both frightening challenges and a
beautiful new sense of openness, of sharing instead of owning, of
recycling and reusing best practice. We
help to shape communities, development and ultimately our shared
not fly, or drive, is
a great life in a modern metropolis like Vienna.
ecological engagement stretches to three times being arrested for
green protesting. He leads tours on smart city, Green Wien and
walking - his job - is the most sustainable urban mobility. He is
pioneering #TourismForLocals, with the event Vienna Walking Week.
He teaches in the spatial-planning department of Vienna Technical
University, and has lectured several
times to the
of Sustainable Urban Mobility.
What the global eco movement needs is more characters, more personality, more celebration and inclusion, more warmth & storytelling, less policy wonks and nerdy statistics. Of course we need governments to act, but since they are not doing so, we need to make the moves ourselves in our lifestyles. As a symbolic act. Because if we don’t, who will? My facebook feed was full of outrage when President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord. Rightly so. But those same people don’t see any contradiction in posting photos of their holidays in Cambodia or Peru. Many Austrian Green-voters own two houses, which they drive between, since one is only
by car. One of those two homes is always empty - and you cannot be
green and own two homes, with concrete contributing 8% to global CO2
emissions, and rents rising fast. It
is ridiculous hypocrisy.
in the ecology sector seem not to be so eager to become heroes. They
tend towards the nerdy Al
school of presentation and dressing. We need more prominent figures
to speak up in the media, music and arts sectors.
of the problem is the time scales involved.
the heat, but only a few actually do something about stopping it. And
that is people
like these students (and teachers).
Interesting to reflect on the role of business in driving change. There is a website where you can see how many of your neighbours have solar panels (using satellite image data). And so you can find out if it is the norm or not. But the site also provides data on how much you could save if you invest in some, with the weather in your district. This is useful nudging, I think. And of course there are links then to firms who sell them in your area.
The Technical University of Vienna's Getreidemarkt tower was Austria's first plus energy building. And the Raumplanung Department is very actively involved in the life of this city, unlike many other universities around the world, which are isolated ghettoes of abstract learning. At TU, architects are expected also to study sociology as part of their course - which should be compulsory around the world. The language used by architects all over the world is often meaningless to non-architects, which is silly and elitist, avoiding participation and engagement. Of all the creative disciplines, surely architecture is the most universal. We all have opinions about it, & engage with it every day, and so architects should be able and willing to communicate with us.
say that there are too many architects more interested in winning
instead of designing buildings that people
want to live
which are good for community, for your mental health, built on a
human-scale. Do you feel that architects are engaged enough with
explaining their work to the public, in a language that they can
speak of the problem of climate change being too remote to their own
lives now, we forget that in the heatwave of August
died in four
days. That should be used as an example much more often,
since it has led to that city being a pioneer in opening streets to
people, and closing them to cars - with Mayor Anne Hidalgo re-elected
this year, promising fewer cars, and more joy and play and
social-dining on the streets. Vienna's mayor should take notice!
See the photograph of a desire path above, as both metaphor & optimism and a beautiful phrase - and most of all that we can change the world, through collective belief, and find a new way to move forward, or sideways. Who designed the original path, that didn’t go to where the people want to go? I suppose it was people like the participants in our summer school: landscape designers, city-planners, bureaucrats, transport consultants. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we don’t, but the people show us how we got it wrong, and in an interactive, democratic way, they show us where they want to go, and ultimately take another path. Let’s be open to their suggestions.
world seems to have turned on its orbit in the last five
years. Clearly we have some new political directions, with a rise in
both populism and activism. Hashtags and hacking. There
group of city mayors now, moving
the evolution of ecology as a movement. Corona
showed us how fast we can act, when faced with a crisis. One of
Eugene's favourite books, Worldchanging, can point the way forward.
Its editor, Alex
the importance of imagining persuasive, positive possible futures:
“It’s literally true that we can’t build what we can’t
imagine,... The fact that we haven’t compellingly imagined a
thriving, dynamic, sustainable world is a major reason we don’t
already live in one.”
Let’s get started with changing the world.
Please join us for this unusual and inspiring event. More info: https://summer-university.net/...