Gasometer City: Architectural Tour Review
Jean Nouvel Buildings Gasometers Vienna: The Vienna Gasometers are gigantic industrial brick towers – heavy, closed, light defying. Jean Nouvel and the other contemporary Viennese architects involved must have loved the challenge to beam them into the 21st century. Let me share my experience of the architectural tour through Gasometer City below.
Jean Nouvel Buildings Gasometers Vienna: The four 113-year old gasometers areprotected monuments. They are fifteen storey high and have been re-modelled and transformed in 2001 into what is called Gasometer City. This town in a town comprises 615 modern appartements, an event hall holding 3.500 people, a cinemacenter, a shoppingmall, a student home, offices, schools, medical and other facilities.
I remember the rave parties in the empty Gasometers in the early 1990’s. Before being transformed, the empty gasometers were also used for a scene of James Bond’s The Living Daylights.
The Gasometer Community
Jean Nouvel Buildings Gasometers Vienna: The Gasometer community is the closest knit in all Vienna. 90 percent of today’s residents were early settlers in the new Gasometers in 2001, and many of them got to know each other even before moving in, thanks to the Gasometers’ own online forum where everything is being communicated, from residential affairs to local parties and jobs.
The Architectural Tour
Jean Nouvel Buildings Gasometers Vienna: The Gasometers in Vienna have been attracting a selective crowd of lovers of architecture, contemporary design, and novel forms of urban living.
Each of the four gasometers displays a very different architectural concept for the same type of space. This makes the tour really exciting.
The Gasometer City tour takes you to the eastern fringe of Vienna, a formerly deprived area that has been partly transformed by this urban re-design project.
I found the shopping centre was a sobering start for our architectural tour. Andreas Pöschek, tour guide and one of the first Gasometer inhabitants, took us out and up to the top floors of Gasometer A.
Jean Nouvel Buildings Gasometers Vienna: Jean Nouvel, the famous French architect who designed Gasometer A (and the Hotel Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom) is known for hisarchitecture of lights and shadows.
We glanced through one of the windows into the inner courtyard: Dark metal, shiny aluminium wall slices of residential units, broken up to let the old brickwork from outside come through.
All was topped by the huge “spider net” of the open metal roof. Jean Nouvel’s design lets the gasometer’s inside sparkle and give it an airy open feeling.
Jean Nouvel Buildings Gasometers Vienna: Gasometer B’s inside, designed by Viennese architectural studio Coop Himmelblau, is fairly non-descript to me. I like the idea of the modern shield they built in front of it, though, to provide a visual introduction to the ultramodern transformation inside the historic brickwork of the Gasometers.
Jean Nouvel Buildings Gasometers Vienna: Gasometer C’s interior is a historic flashback. Viennese architectManfred Wehdorn, who earned his reputation with revitalising historic Viennese buildings, interpreted the old Viennese Pawlatschen courtyards in the city centre. The inner courtyard runs galleries on each level, which lead to the entrances of the residential units, just like the 18th century Pawlatschen buildings in the first, third and fifth districts. The idea is great, though I miss those design twists that give historic interpretations that certain edge.
Jean Nouvel Buildings Gasometers Vienna: Gasometer D’s design is completely different from the rest. Architect Wilhelm Holzbauer built the residential blocks in the centre rather than along the outer walls, enabling residents to strongly experience life inside a gasometer as they look through the outer walls.
You can book the one hour guided tour in various languages by emailing Andreas Pöschek at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the website for further tour details (German only).