An arcade, an unused, potential public space, is transformed and highlighted through a platform.

Public space is reaching its limits. The pandemic has shown us that even more drastically. Nevertheless the availability of public space is a generally valid question. Accessible, consumption free, inclusive spaces for people of all genders and backgrounds are indispensable. In the built urban fabric the possibilities are limited and the challenge is to make spaces that already exist accessible, exploit unused spaces, and turn spaces into places (placemaking).

“… the architecture is no more important than the rain …” Archigram

Spending time outside is dependent on tolerable weather conditions. Not without reason, the Vitruvian ‘primitive hut’ is primarily a shelter against rain and sun. The term Gratis Dach can be used for outdoor places under bridges and infrastructure lines, arcades, passages, house entrances etc. Underneath all of them lie hidden potentials. These rain- and sun-protected open spaces can accommodate countless uses and therefore be a viable extension to public space.

The project ‘Gratis Dach’ aims to activate these unused spaces. Exemplarily one unused roof for free is transformed into a high quality public space.In the dense 7th Viennese district Neubau, green spaces, recreational areas, parking spaces and streets for cars stand in conflict and the urgent need for flexible usable public spaces is obvious. The residential building Schottenfeldgasse 30–32 forms arcades along Schottenfeldgasse and Seidengasse. Due to the offsetted placement of the pavement, the arrangement of secondary rooms on the ground floor and the uninviting design, the 200 m2 area under the arcades remain unused, dreary and filthy.

The project proposes a colourful platform as a place to sojourn and gather—an inner city outdoor space with a roof for free. The wooden platform with three steps has no predetermined use, but can be interpreted as a sitting element, terrace, public living room, dancefloor or a stage and is therefore open for appropriation. The sought-for protection of the roof and the structure of approximately 28 m2 create a place, where people can spend time outside, regardless of weather conditions, and relocate activities from private to public space under a roof for free.

Klara Hrubicek, Dorothee Huber, Helene Schauer, Astrid Strak
Klara Hrubicek, Dorothee Huber, Helene Schauer, Astrid Strak
Location of project
AT, Vienna
Month/Year of project
05 / 2021
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