Transforming Cities via experimental planning interventions: Socio-spatial benefits and contestations of superblocks in Vienna
IRS Seminar with Anna-Katharina Brenner, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria
Superblocks – experimental urban planning interventions – challenge urban configurations geared towards car use. Socio-spatial conditions shaping processes of experimentation provide the ground for conflicts, shape material conditions and potential benefits. Drawing on three potential superblock application areas in Vienna, we used an integrated mixed-method approach. That allowed us to do both, applying traffic modelling with three intervention depths to derive potential energy and CO2equ emission savings and health benefits, and to conduct interviews to learn about spatially specific conditions, and conflicts. We find potential benefits are higher in low-income and car-affine neighbourhoods, superblock implementation is perceived to be less contested in centrally and well-off districts. Superblocks are emerging as an incipient strategic action field calling for more integrated planning to settle the field. There are first indications that this is driven by the city government also acknowledging for a fair distribution of the expected benefits of “Super Grätzl”.
Anna-Katharina Brenner is a Ph.D. candidate and research associate at the Institute of Social Ecology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Austria). Among her fields of interest are environmental justice and geography of sustainability transitions focussing on (peri-) urban areas. On these issues, she is carrying out interdisciplinary research considering both socio-metabolic and political/institutional implications.