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Historic Centre of Vienna

Austria
Factors affecting the property in 2013*
  • Housing
  • Legal framework
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • High-rise construction projects in Central Vienna;
  • High-rise construction project of Vienna Main Train Station.
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2013
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2013**

March 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the “Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn”; September 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the “Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn” and “Historic Centre of Vienna”

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

On 28 January 2013, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation for the two properties in Vienna, the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn and the Historic Centre of Vienna. The report highlights new urban restructuring opportunities in the area of the Vienna Ice-Skating Club, Intercontinental Hotel and Vienna Music-Konzerthaus.

Between 17 and 20 September 2012 a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), visited the two properties and inspected all of the developments considered previously by the World Heritage Committee as part of state of conservation reports.

a) High-rise projects in Central Vienna

The Forum Schönbrunn has been completed. Although it is visible from the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn, the impact is limited to a viewpoint at the entrance of the main building and is strong only in fall and winter time. The Urban Development along Danube Canal remains critical. Therefore since the existing developments have already impacted the setting of the Historic Centre of Vienna, strict height limitations for future proposals and restrictions for illuminated advertisements on the existing buildings seem essential. In this context, the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS reiterate their request to include night time visualization in the visual impact assessments as existing buildings with (licensed) advertisement billboards constitute a negative impact on night views from within the property.

b) Developments around Vienna Main Train Station

For the site SEESTE (60m height) work began in early 2013, for ERSTE (26-50m height) in 2011 and for the Intercity Section (55 and 60m height) in 2012. The construction of the tallest buildings in the complex, the corporate headquarters of the Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB) (up to 88m height) has also commenced in 2011. Although all complexes have been reduced in height as result of earlier negotiations, they will have a visual impact on the properties’ setting. The impact has been reduced to a certain extent since the highest towers were moved out of the Belvedere’s direct sight axis but the volumes, density and position of the buildings of the block closest to Belvedere do still raise concern. A more suitable, lighter and airy design would be preferable to avoid blocking completely the view from Belvedere.

c) Urban Restructuring at Intercontinental Hotel

 The latest development proposal concerns a building block, which accommodates the Intercontinental Hotel, the Vienna Ice-Skating Club and the Music Hall (Konzerthaus). In this particular location at the edge of the property, the visual relationships between the Belvedere Gardens and the Historic City are essential and are already disturbed by the existing hotel. Yet, the approach selected by the city is very promising and may even reduce the previous visual impact towards a better use of the plot in terms of urban and community function. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS note the opportunity to improve the quality of this neighborhood and perhaps even reduce the existing visual impact of the Intercontinental Hotel. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS also note the State Party’s participatory approach chosen to find solutions.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2013

The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS are of the view that the State Party should continue further exploring the new more proactive and participatory approach to urban planning selected for the plot of the Intercontinental Hotel. Such approaches should be based on strengthened legislation for visual protection. It is also recommended that item no 46 of Vienna’s Urban Development Guidelines, which addresses high-rise developments, is revised to include requirements for comprehensive visual impact assessments, comprising a variety of variables, seasonal and light situations.

 In the case of Vienna, most individual projects have a limited impact on the skyline and sight relations but the accumulated impact of a number of projects over several years raises concerns. To prevent future risks that the accumulation reaches a stage where the Outstanding Universal Value may be irreversibly affected, Vienna requires strong and definite political commitment and its translation into strictly applied regulations and urban planning policies.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2013
37 COM 7B.71
Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn (Austria) (C 786) and Historic Centre of Vienna (Austria) (C 1033)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B,

2.  Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.84 adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.  Notes that a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the property took place in September 2012 and requests the State Party to implement the recommendations of the mission;

4.  Takes note of the information provided by the State Party on 31 May 2013 concerning the new project proposed in and around the Intercontinental Hotel, urges the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies with details of the two proposed options for the development of the area and also urges the State Party to halt any redevelopment higher than existing structures until an evaluation has been made by the Advisory Bodies;

5.  Regrets the remaining visual impact of the developments at Vienna Main Train Station on the immediate and wider setting of the properties and also requests the State Party to endorse planning policies, in particular through amending item 46 of Vienna’s Urban Development Guidelines, to prevent similar developments in the future;

6.  Further requests the State Party to integrate standard requirements for comprehensive visual impact assessments in relation to the Outstanding Universal Value of the properties in its urban planning policies (including regulations for night-time impacts caused by illuminated advertisements);

7.  Requests furthermore the State Party to inform, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines , the World Heritage Centre of any additional major urban development projects as well as amendments to current projects that may have a negative impact on the World Heritage properties, before any planning permissions are granted;

8.  Finally requests the State Party to provide a report to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above.  

Draft Decision          37 COM 7B.71

The World Heritage Committee,

1.         Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B,

2.         Recalling Decision 35COM 7B.84 adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.         Notes that a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the property took place in September 2012 and requests the State Party to implement the recommendations of the mission;

4.         Takes note of the information provided by the State Party concerning a new project proposed in and around the Intercontinental Hotel, also notes the proactive and participatory approach selected, as well as the aim to reduce the height of older structures, and urges the State Party to ensure that any redevelopment is lower than existing structures in order to reduce the negative impact on views;

5.         Regrets the remaining visual impact of the developments at Vienna Main Train Station on the immediate and wider setting of the properties and also requests the State Party to endorse planning policies, in particular through amending item 46 of Vienna’s Urban Development Guidelines, to prevent similar developments in the future;

6.         Further requests the State Party to integrate standard requirements for comprehensive visual impact assessments in relation to the Outstanding Universal Value of the properties in its urban planning policies (including regulations for night-time impacts caused by illuminated advertisements);

7.         Requests furthermore the State Party to inform, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, the World Heritage Centre of any additional urban development projects as well as amendments to current projects that may have a negative impact on the World Heritage properties, before any planning permissions are granted;

8.         Finally requests the State Party to provide a report to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above.

 

Report year: 2013
Austria
Date of Inscription: 2001
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2017-present
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 37COM (2013)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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