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1999 waren wir beteiligt an der NGO Internet Fiesta und - in neuer Zusammensetzung - an "Global Village 99" Das geplante 4. internationale Global Village Symposium mußte leider abgesagt und auf unbestimmte Zeit vertagt werden.

Stadtplanung / Urban Planning Vienna City Hall, February 1995

Abstract     Lecture     Author

Wolf Werdigier - Büro für Urbanistik (A)



Deleuze and Guattari present metaphors from biology and compare different types of roots as observed in nature with different ways of human thinking. The hierarchical way of thinking, to which we are used to, they represent by forms of main roots with ramifications. But, so they say, this way of thinking should be contrasted by a non-hierarchical way of thinking, which can be represented by the physiognomy of the Rhizome. This is a type of roots, growing horizontally, building up a mesh, so that the different parts are equivalent to each other and, although they are not elements of a central organism, they exist as physiological units.
(Deleuze, Guattari: Mille Plateaux)


This philosophy of network-thinking brings us to start with very concrete technological building blocks first and then to go on to observe the broader framework.

A. The building blocks

The building blocks presented here are derived from new possibilities opened by the new Information and Communication Technologies: The concept of the local telematic neighbourhood-center (1) and the concept of "public services competence centers"(2). The same is true for several other technological building blocks, which we propose, such as the "telematic mini-malls and local markets", the "transport interchange service-centers", the "hybrid-city-fragments", the "virtual art districts", the "virtual bebob-conventions" (youth-club), the "local tele-university departments", the "horticultural academies and service-centers", but these, not having the chance of further development subsidised by the Act-Vill-program, can not be presented here. However, the two first named building-blocks are under construction now and are going to start on February 1996 in Vienna.

1. The Telematic Neighbourhood-Centers

The first priority when talking on telematic-neighbourhood-centers is the orientation of its functional concepts towards the concrete needs of the people and businesses existing in its direct neighbourhood. The program of training, job-creation and public and private services, as well as telework, is directly defined by the needs of the people and the companies there (fig. 1).

The second principle is a high degree of flexibility in space, that means, that within a residential area a neighbourhood-center should occupy space, which can be used as residential apartments as well, so that reduction and enlargement is possible (see fig. 2, 3, 4).

Third, speading of more than proportional influence of these rather small telematic neighbourhood-offices (100 to 200 m2) might be justified, as these telematic neighbourhood-centers serve in two phases, one after the other:

Phase 1. By introducing new ways of work and by applying telematic technology into the every-day-life, by tele-cooperative work and distance-learning, people in this area are introduced into the new ways of work within the future information society.

Phase 2. In the following phase 2 then, when awareness about the possibilities and empowerment by the new technologies is reached by the people living there, the effective use of telematic-neighbourhood-centers for tele-work, tele-training and tele-businesses will become the main features of the neighbourhood-centers. So we observe at the beginning a higher proportion what we call awareness-training and a lower proportion of telework, whereas in the second phase this proportion will change to the opposite.

The complete functional concept of a telematic-neighbourhood-center is organised around the main goal of telework and business support services equipped with several support facilities:

  • awareness-training
  • editing support (desk top graphics, marketing, WWW home-page-production, CD-ROM production, etc.)
  • tele-learning and tele-training of different office qualifications
  • private services (telebanking, insurance, social services, travel agencies, etc.)
  • recreation and local networks, mail-box and internet-café (fig. 5)

The organisational concept for the first phase is taken by three main-partners:

  • an industrial partner (having the interest to apply hardware, software and network-applications)
  • the banking-sector, having the interest on widening the market for tele-services, telebanking, teleshopping and other services
  • the City of Vienna, having the interest of building up local focus-points, as local agoras, bringing people together for working and learning and reducing the problems of isolation at home. (fig. 6)

Today only 25 % of the Austrian house-holds are equipped with a PC and only 10 % of these are equipped with a modem. So the telematic neighbourhood-centers also have the responsibility of multiplicators to knowledge to a wider population.

Further more it is the interest of the city, to decentralise services to the local residential areas, often very far away from any kind of social infrastructure, including concepts of job-creation and opening the job-market by training-programs in co-operation with companies in the local market. Many of these concepts are already existing and now have the possibility of decentralised applications in those areas, where people really need them.

2. The public Services Competence Centers

The local market place always has been the focal point of the city. It defined the agora. Later on the town became the representation of the community. When introducing a new technological building-block, aiming at the decentralisation of public-services, a new telematic public-service office is conceptionalised in combination with the local market place: The public Services Competence Center.

The fundamental idea of this approach to the public service (Bürgerservice) is a reorganisation of all the departments, so, that they are directly oriented to the demand of the people.

When looking at the present structure of public bureaucracies, we find departments like blocks each beside the other organised in a vertical way from top down. Every block or every column of this organisation "produces" a specific public service and therefore has to be addressed separately from each other in one of the main buildings in the city. By telecommunication technology we are able to offer all these services as a bunch taken together and decentralised in each of the neighbourhoods of the city. We compare this with the structure of a cake where we have all the public services piled up vertically like several layers of cream, dough, paste, etc. and bringing this cake slice by slice to each of the neighbourhoods, we can offer in every neighbourhood a section through all the services of the city in one place, serving in one stop (see fig. 7).

This new organisation of public administration brings an enormous improvement in the level of service to the local people and at the same time a reduction in staff as the new neighbourhood-centers are decentralising the staff from the main departments and by reorganisation a high percentage of procedures is computerised or completely simplified. In fig. 8 an example of a local service center is given.

B. The city of the 21st century

If we now start to bring the technological building blocks, two of which have been described before, into a broader framework of future perspectives, we may draw three main lines of development leading to the 21st century.

1. The Concept of Dematerialisation

A metaphor might explain this better. A tale from Northern Africa describes a rich man, defining his last will before his death: One half of his wealth should go to his oldest son, one third should be inherited by his second oldest son, whereas his youngest should get only one ninth. When he died, he owned 17 camels and the three sons had to divide this heritage to satisfy the fatherís last will. They could not find a solution and discontent led to animosity and less perspective for solution made them even more aggressive. There was no escape from this dilemma until an other rich man with several camels visited them and offered to give one of his camels to them, so the three sons would then have 18 camels. Then they can divide by half to get nine, divide by three to get six and divide by nine to get two, having all together seventeen camels, leaving over the one, which then he can get back. Thus he helped them to solve the problem, without any physical input.

This story tells us, that we need solutions first before we think of additional production.

If we look on the possibilities by telematics, where archives are replaced by computer-files, where office space can be replaced by telework, where services can be replaced by tele-services and even transport of materials, goods and persons can be replaced by transportation of data, then we find, that flexibility of work as well as flexibility of buildings lead to multiple used spaces with higher efficiency. These tendencies can be interpreted as a step by step dematerialisation of the city. The retrofit concept of using empty space where we can find it, can start within existing offices letting vacant space for intermediate business to use. If we consider the university buildings as an example, less than 50 % of its space is occupied over the year. This can be changed by dematerialisation (fig. 7).

2. New Combinations

Telecommunication will enable new combinations of functions, leading to hybrid building which until now have only been seen in city-centers. New combinations will evolve, according to the philosophy of Marc Auger, when more and more people live in intermediate spaces like airports, railway stations, conference-centers, etc., where they work, live and wait. It will become important for the city of tomorrow, to equip these spaces with efficient infrastructure for using the time spent there in an effective way, but also for recreation and health.

Not only will the centrally located and highly accessible points of transport interchange which are often the intermediate spaces, develop as hybrid-buildings, also in the peripheral zones, but a new perspective of hybrid-buildings evolves: a combination between glass-houses and residential land-use, a combination between art-museum-galleries and office-space, a reengineering of vacant office-space into residential use and within the residential areas a reengineering of apartment-space for local offices. All these are examples of future flexibility and new combinations. The technological capacity for these are already existing, as well as the desires of the people asking for this. It is the institutional barrier, which is inhibiting the development, such as legislation for subsidised housing not allowing for office-use, office investment capital, not allowing for residential use, etc.

3. New Social Clusters.

The third line of perspective can be drawn, if we think of the consequences of the bottle-nack-metaphor when transforming city office work to decentralised telework as shown in fig. 10. This transformation leads to a reduction in contacts to colleges, to side informations in the corridors, to co-operative working in working-groups, in meetings and in the coffee-bar. The only communication channel which can be taken to the residential area, when teleworking, is the communication on telephone and computer-networking.

But there is an other side of this coin showing all the linkages which can be developed on the local residential level. These are linkages not only to nature and social contacts to neighbours, but also to other people in a much more relaxed atmosphere, where the "local agora" is a guarantee for. Maybe we can talk of metropolitan villages (fig. 11).

For these villages we need a new architecture, which mainly has to be seen from an organisational point of view. Not romanticism and fassade-architecture of Potjemkin is needed, but a normal street, where the different buildings like schools, office-buildings, glass-houses, supermarkets, etc. are linked together and are used in an exchanging way. The most popular café might be the one in a sports-club, the most fashionable interesting place might be in the gymnasium of the school. The best working desk might be in the green-house, the best dance-club might be in the supermarket. The exchange of space not only reflects the actual demand for change by the people. It also leads by flexible organisation to the better use of space and also is inspiring new environments.

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