|HERITAGE AT RISK 2004
Vienna Roofscape and Roofspace
Cultural heritage in the developed countries is in danger. Economic pressure, urban development and change of use are the forces of civilization. The dwindling significance and the decreasing value of architectural heritage and the dominance of modernity and modern lifestyle as factors of social prestige represent major factors that continue to endanger this heritage.
The seduction by technology, materials and design is obvious. In this context it seems ironical that not the lack of money is a risk for the architectural heritage, but rather the abundance of money. This means many investments on architectural measures is against the interests of preservation and conservation. One of the most noteworthy which has evolved into a field of its own is the development of roofspace.
In particular this has begun to give Vienna a new face. Up to the beginning of the World War II Vienna grew in width. Apart from the damage due to the war, much of the roofscape remained intact. Only the last few decades have given rise to exploitation in this area and the past few years have shown dramatic effects. These have brought about new types of construction on the rooftops of Vienna.
The ”city above the city” is an indication of the direction in which this newly discovered building zone is being dominated by the affluent society and their representatives and is in this sense an expression of social and economic strength. This means that socially and economically privileged groups shape the city. The ”city above the city” is in a certain meaning a kind of ”gated community” which is placed even more than in a metaphorical sense ”above” the social and economic lower classes.
”Draufsetzen” (to set up on), the name of an exhibition in Vienna in 2004, nearly postulated this new building activity in a positive and an animating manner.Viennese law supports this expansion if this type of construction is not subject to preservation laws. Under certain circumstances three levels above the corniche are permitted and it seems that the official policy has supported this development up to now.
The only effective measure against this building activity would be the legal protection by preservation authorities (according to the Austrian ”Denkmalschutzgesetz”).
But Austrian preservation law is primarily geared to singular objects and the protection of ensembles, which would be the logical consequence, is therefore a long one. The legal protection of the urban environment and urban space is not effective enough.The discussions pertaining to Wien-Mitte have resulted in a shift of this liberal policy.
In the center of the core zone of the world heritage site of the city of Vienna a reduction of the three floors which can be added has been achieved for future projects. But many applicants that applied before the introduction of this new policy are still permitted to carry out the additions according to the earlier three floor rule. Negative results in roof expansion must therefore be expected.
Buildings that have been effected by these severe additions are mainly those built during the second half of the 19th century. Although usually not subject to preservation laws, these historistic buildings have without a doubt fulfilled an important role in the city. The general appearance of Vienna with the original façades of these structures would lose the continuity experienced in the city through these roof additions. A mixture of architecture would strongly disturb the balance of the buildings and ruin the general historic authenticity the city conveys.