Vienna’s green mini-city offers a model for sustainable, urban living

Good News Notes:

On a recent winter afternoon, Phillip Naderer-Puiu and his partner picked up their 4-year-old daughter from day care in aspern Seestadt, a new community focused on green living on the edge of Vienna. 

Naderer-Puiu was one of the first residents when he moved there in 2015. He loves the sense of community.

“It’s very open,” he said. “You know a lot of people here. It’s not hard to find new friends.”  

Aspern Seestadt is nearly net-zero, meaning that its modern high-rises produce almost as much energy as they use. Globally, buildings make up around 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, but aspern Seestadt demonstrates that it doesn’t have to be that way. 

The development — home to various industries, researchers and small businesses — demonstrates the possibilities for building an entirely green mini-city. 

From their apartment, Naderer-Puiu’s family can easily walk to the store, school, restaurants, parks, dentist, doctors, a lake and the subway. They can ride bikes to the local bookstore down streets lined with high-rise apartments and a wide sidewalk. 

When their daughter Dora zooms ahead on a little yellow bike, Naderer-Puiu doesn’t stress because this community was designed to prioritize safety for pedestrians and cyclists. 

“You can just ride for half an hour with just one street you have to cross,” Naderer-Puiu said, adding that it’s relaxing for anxious parents of toddlers.

This is all by design. From the beginning, the city of Vienna wanted this development to be a place where green urban planning and research could be tested — and then exported. 

Ingrid Spörk, who works for Wien 3420, the company developing aspern Seestadt, said the subway was extended to the area when it was still just a patch of dirt. 

“The city of Vienna decided to build a metro line before they built anything else,” Spörk said. “So, even the construction workers came for the daily job with the metro line.” 

The idea is to discourage cars and make it easy to walk. Parking fees fund things like free-access cargo bikes and free grocery trolleys for residents. Spörk said planners made sure there is a good mix of retail, groceries and doctors’ offices all within walking distance. 

Aspern Seestadt currently has about 8,000 residents, but will eventually hit 25,000 residents nestled into dense, urban neighborhoods. The site itself is a former airfield. 

“This is an exceptional opportunity,” said Doris Österreicher, a researcher at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. “Because you don’t always have, in such a dense city like the city of Vienna, the opportunity to actually build a new development completely from scratch,” she said. 

Sustainability projects piloted in aspern Seestadt have been implemented in other Austrian cities and beyond.”

View the whole story here:

Leave a Reply