Lucky 7. Neubau is easily the most hip district in all of Austria. The focus here is on new music, art, food and ways of living. A walk along the boundary of Neubau, looking at what the Bezirk frontier means, and how this district is different to its neighbours. Let’s Walk the Line. Starting and ending in front of Museumsquartier.
Neubau has a strong identity in Vienna (as do Ottakring, Favoriten, Innenstadt), but this can also be destructive, because there is resentment and humour about the Seventh District.
The group will discuss social boundaries, identity, belonging, differences. What is the political geography of our city?
How can we detect a mood change, when crossing the line from Neubau into other districts? Do different people live on one side or the other of the Bezirk boundaries?
Why are the dividing lines of each Gemeindebezirk where they are?
How much is a typical rent to live here? What difference does it make to rents to live across the District line, in Innenstadt, Rudolfsheim or Josefstadt?
Who lives here, and who doesn’t?
What’s the political difference between the voters of Neubau and neighbouring districts?
How many local residents are not allowed to vote (eg the large number of Germans here)?
What kind of religious or ethnic distinctions do we see between Neubau and its neighbours?
Why is Neubau both hip and – to some people – a ridiculous cliché place to live? Is it class resentment?
‘Hipsters’ bring innovation, entrepreneurship and good food to a neighbourhood. Surely they should be welcomed and celebrated? Eugene will deconstruct the hostility towards this lifestyle group, and defend them from the tired criticisms they receive.
The Viennese love nature, calm and green spaces, and yet Neubau has almost none of these, but still very high rents. We will ask some locals how life is here.
What impact has the pedestrianisation of some of Mariahilferstrasse had on local people, businesses and ecology?
Why is it called ‘Neu bau’?
Why do the Viennese use postal code numbers instead of their district names?
If Vienna is the city with the highest liveability ranking in the world, and Neubau is the most lively district in Vienna, does that make this part of the city the most desirable place in the world to live? It often seems to Eugene that the locals have no idea how lucky they are to live in this city. And if you don’t recognise what you have, you may well lose it.
While the current generation was raised on globalisation and open borders, the new populism (Brexit, Kurz, Trump) is reacting with walls, boundaries and angst. There is a paradox in modern life: while cities are growing fast, the spirit which defines urban life (curiosity, education, modernity, liberalism) is in retreat, as a populist and often rural, retro wave sweeps to victory at elections. How can we defend the open, optimistic sense of cities against this sentimental mood, which sees the past as better than the future? In election year, we want to get political. And also to explore what the construction of new U-bahn lines is having in the west of the district. What do the boundaries of Neubau mean in 2020?
We will analyse the criteria used to compare cities globally on liveability: connectedness, inequality, jobs, culture, beauty, weather, rents, infrastructure, wifi speed, crime, education, food, green space, political stability. The ranking is often dismissed as an expat score, but which residents do not care about these issues?
Vienna is ranked one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, and Neubau is the most liberal part of this progressive city. We will celebrate the success of the Ampelpaerchen, and look at Richard Florida’s thesis that openness to homosexuality correlates with the post-industrial success of city economies.
Vienna offers beauty, space and opportunities. This is a look at the contemporary city, beyond the cliches.
In the middle of our three-hour walk, we will have a coffee together in Cafe Westend, to open up some interesting discussions between strangers. The name of this cafe fits well to our theme, since it is not just the East end of the Westbahn railway line, but also the Westernmost edge of Neubau. We want to bring a group of engaged citizens together: academics, pensioners, journalists, architects, students, migrants, to walk around their own town, and start some debates (and create new networks). While the cafe is named for the end of the Westbahn over the road, it is also located at the western end – or edge – of Neubau and so fits to our theme of boundaries.
As with the Vienna Ugly tour, one of the aims here is to find new ways of looking at the city, so that this walk feels as fresh for the Viennese as it does for visitors, and therefore they come together in lively debate. In Vienna there is less dialogue between visitors and locals than in cities where the tourism focuses on new things (Copenhagen, Austin, Milan). We should aim to change this.
space and place’s project is to mix up politics and fun, and to engage locals into walking around their home town, opening dialogue between the international community and the city. Our work has been reported in The Guardian, Die Zeit, New York Times and BBC – space and place’s project is to tell new, playful stories about Vienna, often using humour to make serious points.
This walk is one of 14 we are bringing together under the umbrella concept of Vienna Walking Week, from 22-29 July.
Date & Time: 27/7, 14:00. We walk in every weather.
Meeting Point: Main entrance to Museumsquartier, opposite Maria-Theresien Statue
Duration: 3h, 15, with coffee in Westend half way (you pay for your coffee).
Cost contribution: €10, or €50 for all 14 walks. Children 14 or under go free. No reservation is possible – just get a card on the day. No tour is ever sold out, so don’t worry about not getting a place on the walk.
Fussgängster: Eugene Quinn, plus one.
Fidelia Gartner (TU Wien Raumplanung/ISRA) and Lisa Fuchs (Max Planck Institute) finely translated these pages into German, added ideas, and helped select the images. Thanks to them for their valuable input.