Privatized beautiful views, socialized imposing landscapes

View from the top floor of Donau City Tower 1 (left and middle) and view of the building (left) from the ground

Last week I was with my Masters course on the Donau City Island, a relatively new development in Vienna. We were inside the Donau City Tower 1 where I took the first two photos above. From the top floor of the tower, one has a beautiful view of Vienna and the surrounding areas. However, on the ground the view is not as lovely. These large buildings block the sun and create wind tunnels. In fact, our Professor told us that several people have been blowed right over from the wind in the area.

The scale is clearly not “human”, and there is still little activity on street level, where pedestrians are circulating. The area is lacking in entertainment offerings and restaurants/bars, where inhabitants and employees could go on foot.

This experience reminded me of something a friend told me when I was living in Paris: the best view of Paris is from the top of the Montparnasse  Tower, as this is the only spot from which you are not able to see Montparnasse. Clever. And true. This illustrates the conflict perfectly: from inside such huge towers, one can access a beautiful view of the city. However, access to these buildings is usually not open (they are either private commercial or residential buildings, or, as with the Empire State Building in New York City, one must pay to enter). While the beautiful view from the building is privatized, the negative effects of such large developments (wind, shade and “inhuman” scale) are socialized.

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