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Treib Gut magazine | A publication by Schwemmland + Our thoughts about Linz harbour

Category: ⚐ EN+events+urbanism

TREIB GUT magazine - Cover

As we told you in this previous post, last June we were in Linz, Austria, invited by Roland Krebs for a lecture and a workshop, part of an event called Identity City Lab. The workshop, led by local collective Schwemmland and Ecosistema Urbano, was aiming to provide some fresh insights and proposals about the eastern harbour area of Linz, a big extension of former ‘schwemmland’ (alluvial land) turned into an industrial area during the second part of the 20th century.

The people from Schwemmland, who have been living, thinking and working around the area for a long time, used the occasion to launch TREIB GUT magazine as a new means of communication with the city. We recently received some copies, and wanted to share with you the results of this effort.

TREIB GUT magazine - Index

Branded as ‘the independent harbour journal’ and published in German using a newspaper-like format, this publication looks like a great way to disseminate the results of the workshop, together with other reflections on Linz and its harbour area. The aim of such an important communication effort  is to transmit to the rest of the city the thoughts, proposals, reflections and actions that have been taking place around the harbour.

For this issue, we were asked to write a report about the workshop and our thoughts on the harbour area in general. Since we already published a report here, I’m going to share with you the last part of the article, which is a kind of ‘statement’ or manifesto that summarizes our point of view on this project and part of our general approach to urban social design:

Linz harbour – Looking to the future

TREIB GUT magazine - Article by Ecosistema Urbano

TREIB GUT magazine – Article by Ecosistema Urbano

[…] So, what can Linz do with such a place? Here are ten points that summarize and contextualize some of the most important things we have learned from our work in the city. We think they can provide a conceptual framework for the development of the harbour area.

Reactivate the existing as an alternative to expansion. The docks and the surrounding areas are full of unused spaces, concrete platforms, green fields and water surfaces that provide plenty of room for new activities without the need of huge transformations.

Develop constructive criticism
, as an optimistic approach to existing reality in order to bring up creative solutions. The harbour development plans are a reality the city has to live with, but also an opportunity of making things better if the city gives some space for complementary proposals.

Take care for the public. We believe the concept of the city is completely linked to the creation of public space, and this area of Linz should not be an exception. Between the private lots there is still a chance to create a meaningful, diverse public space that gives citizens easy and universal access to the river.

Rely on low-cost to make great things with less resources. Taking advantage of the qualities of the place it is possible to have positive impact with a relatively low investment. Simple, minimal and clever installations can turn a forgotten spot into a lively, comfortable place.

Create open systems in order to allow the development of a changing reality. Planning can be done over decades, but urban life changes both slower and faster. Leaving open ends and room for change will guarantee an easier adaptation to future needs. Use removable systems that permit relocation or dismantlement. Adopt construction standards that allow for easy improvement, repair and maintenance. Allow the citizens to develop their own solutions on top of the existing infrastructure.

Bring instant change through urban actions. Small actions can provoke huge reactions and great experiences, acting like tests for the future of the area. Do you think it could work differently? Just try it, experience it, and learn from the results in order to improve quickly. Three smaller interventions can drive more changes and give more useful lessons than a huge one, while being more cost-effective.

TREIB GUT magazine - Photos of an urban action

TREIB GUT magazine – Photos of an urban action in Linz harbour

Integrate the citizens into the processes of changing their environment. Make them aware about the opportunities, inspire them and work at a social level to find out what they would really use and enjoy. Listen, think, build and try things together, and be patient about the results: social change and citizen involvement can be slow, but they are powerful.

Build networks to share knowledge and experiences. Count on existing and active collectives or associations, communicate beyond the most involved people, continuously share ideas and resources to create a responsive network and a ‘social warmth’ around the place. Keeping the most active people and the possible future users involved can be crucial for the success of an urban project.

Take account of the intangible using new technologies as a mechanism to create awareness about the complexity of the place. Track and map impressions, feelings, opinions, data and contents related to the harbour area in order to visualize the collective imagination about that place.

Keep positive to be able to push ahead reality. Dare to think in terms of desirability, more than possibility or probability. Dream about things that were never done in that area, build fantastic experiences on the water, the docks, the streets or the natural spaces. Imagine the citizens bathing, creating, playing, cultivating or flying near the Danube, the river that made the city of Linz possible.

Our report Linz harbour: a city and a river | Identity City Lab workshop with Schwemmland
Post in German by Roland Krebs, organizer of the Identity City Lab
Post in German at CreativeRegion website, with more photos
Post about the conference at CreativeRegion website

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Linz harbour: a city and a river | Identity City Lab workshop with Schwemmland

Category: ⚐ EN+events+talleres+urbanismo

Linz and the harbour area of the intervention - Google Maps

Three weeks ago (Juny 5th-8th ) we were in Linz, Austria, invited by Roland Krebs for a lecture and a workshop, part of an event called Identity City Lab, which is part of the Creative Region program.

The workshop, lead by local collective Schwemmland and Ecosistema Urbano, was aiming to provide some fresh insights and proposals about the eastern harbour area of Linz, a big extension of former ‘schwemmland’ (alluvial land) turned into an industrial area during the second part of the past century.

Some context

The area highlighted in the first image has been slowly fading out of the citizens’ imagination and become a ‘forgotten’ part of the identity of Linz. Tourist maps end right before the border of that area, which is still one of the most important connections of the city with the Danube and with its own history.

Tourist city map - Click to View PDF

Tourist city map – Click to View PDF

Nowadays, the area hosts an active industry and a working logistic transportation system by rail. Interestingly enough, it contains patches of different uses scattered between the industrial facilities: nature (even protected species live there); cultural or recreational zones like an airfield; private gardening and traces of former agriculture; restaurants and small street stalls that sell food to workers and passersby.

Despite the long decades of industrial activity, the 8 meter deep water in the north-eastern docks is usually calm like a mirror and crystal clear… although during our stay it was very muddy due to the flooding that had happened just a couple of days before.

A basin between the docks - deep, calm water forgotten by the city

A basin between the docks – deep, calm water forgotten by the city

Some of the docks were recently filled in order to continue the industrial development of the area, which raised some concerns but can also be seen as an opportunity for the city of Linz to re-think its relation with the harbour and the water.

Here comes urban development: filling at one of the docks

Here comes urban development: filling at one of the docks

Activities

The workshop started with a guided tour by bike around the area, which gave everyone a clearer insight on its different aspects and the opportunity to meet interesting people living and working there. Then we had a first work session at Schwemmland’s office.

Bike ride by the river

Bike ride by the river

This aerodrome runway is not somewhere in the countryside  - it's right at the harbour

This aerodrome runway is not somewhere in the countryside – it’s right at the harbour!

Traditional food stall between the office buildings

Traditional food stall between the office buildings

The rest of the workshop took place at the Tabakfrabrik, a ‘great’ (both ‘good’ and ‘big’) example of industrial architecture by Peter Behrens and Alexander Popp finished in 1935, which is now being transformed in a cultural center. Some light and temporary structures built of wood, textile and truss systems created a human-scaled space for everyone to work comfortably in the long hall of the second floor.

Working inside the Tabakfabrik, an amazing industrial building from the early XX century

Working inside the Tabakfabrik, an amazing industrial building of the early XX century

The participants, divided in small groups or couples, worked in quite different approaches, trying to imagine how the new industrial development that is planned for the area could be made compatible with some other uses or initiatives in order to bring that calm, clear water surface and its surroundings ‘closer’ to the city.

Outcomes

Despite the short time we had for developing them, there were some interesting proposals, so we ended up with a set of complementary ideas that will be presented to Linz AG, the company that manages almost every aspect of the city’s operation, maintenance and development.

An urban kitchen which could act as meeting point for the people working in logistics, industry, creative offices and artistic workshops and become a catalyst for activities, designs and actions on site.

An extension of the typical tourist map of Linz, making emphasis on a west-east axis, departing from the main square and connecting cultural facilities and lively urban places in a chain that would lead to Harbouria, a citizen-driven ‘city’ floating in the harbour.

Extending the tourist map and creating a 'urban life chain' from the center to the harbour

Extending the tourist map and creating a ‘urban life chain’ from the center to the harbour

Harbouria - a floating 'cuty' in the docks

Harbouria – a floating ‘cuty’ in the docks

A very critical, almost poetical approach, which stated that the spontaneous activities in the harbour area should be preserved without a direct intervention. They talked about what could happen in the spaces “in between” the planned uses such as industry. Could we respect these emergences without trying to plan them?

Explaining how to keep spaces of opportunity without directly pointing at them

Explaining how to keep spaces of opportunity without directly pointing at them

One of the proposals was to always keep a public fringe always available and accesible right on the border between the ground and the water. Simple to explain, but with very significative potential results.

And another one approached the place from the point of view of nature: letting the ecosystem take part of the docks back and creating a quiet and slow natural cycle inside the human hectic cycle of production.

We hope that the city will take these suggestions seriously and develop them further. The harbour is an amazing space where the city and the Danube really meet each other, and it shouldn’t be neglected as a potentially valuable public space.

Post in German by Roland Krebs, organizer of the Identity City Lab
Post in German at CreativeRegion website, with more photos
Post about the conference at CreativeRegion website
TREIB GUT magazine, publication about the workshop and our thoughts about the place

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EUROPAN9 – Urban Switch – Linz (Austria)

Category: ⚐ ES+arquitectura+downloads+ecosistema urbano+eu:abierto+internet+sostenibilidad

Urban Switch es el lema que hemos elegido para la propuesta presentada en la ciudad austriaca de Linz para la novena edición del conocido concurso de ideas europeo EUROPAN. El proyecto ha ganado un Runner-up.
Consiste en un edificio situado en una zona en fase de recualificación, cruce de importantes arterias de comunicación. Mezcla diferentes usos y funciones, públicos y privados, conservando un alto nivel de flexibilidad.

download: Europan9 Linz - Urban Switch (2008)

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