Historic Centre of Vienna
Factors affecting the property in 2003*
- Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
Urban Pressure (high-rise buildings)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2003
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2003**
March 2002: ICOMOS expert mission; May 2002: World Heritage Centre mission
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003
In compliance with the recommendations and requests made by the 26th session of the World Heritage Committee, a report was submitted by the City of Vienna in September 2002 which described the efforts undertaken by the authorities to minimize the problems, however, it stated that the "Wien-Mitte" project would be continued. The report was transmitted to all Committee members for information. ICOMOS commented that no suitable solutions for the concerns expressed by the Committee had been found.
Subsequently, a meeting with representatives of the City of Vienna, the Ambassador of Austria, the ICOMOS President, the Director of the World Heritage Centre and staff of the Europe Unit, was held in Paris on 6 February 2003 to jointly discuss the report and to clarify some of the main issues concerning the heights of the buildings. As a result of this meeting, the City of Vienna and the Federal Office for Preservation of Monuments intensified the measures taken for a co-ordinated management of the World Heritage site "Historic Centre of Vienna". These efforts are described in detail in a "First Interim Report" which was submitted to the World Heritage Centre at the beginning of March 2003. In particular, this First Interim Report also responded to individual points of criticism raised in the meantime by ICOMOS. At the same time, a draft management plan was submitted to the Centre and ICOMOS.
On 10 April 2003, a final report on the situation was sent by the City of Vienna which states that at the end of March 2003, the decision was taken – despite the developer's existing legal entitlement – to elaborate a new “Wien-Mitte” project which will be compatible with the World Heritage site "Historic Centre of Vienna" with regard to the height and volume of the buildings. The Final Report provides a summary of the efforts undertaken by the City of Vienna, addressing in detail the recommendations formulated by the World Heritage Committee:
Buffer zone: Guidelines for planning and assessing high-rise building projects were adopted in April 2002. These Guidelines explicitly ban high-rise construction in specific protection zones, landscape areas, important visual axes and other significant preservation zones. However, two construction zones, which are located in the periphery of the buffer zone, are not included: the "Wien Mitte" site and the urban area north of the Danube which suffered war damage in 1945.
Restoration practices and conservation of Historic Buildings: Since the Committee’s suggestion that a greater proportion of the stock of monuments in the 1st District should additionally be placed under protection as such by administrative order, the Federal Office for the Preservation of Monuments has compiled a preliminary list of monuments, which must still be discussed in detail. The buildings on the list comprise more than 80 % of the building stock of the Historic Centre and, if not yet protected by administrative order, will in future be subject to a process to place them under protection in accordance with the Preservation of Monuments Act.
In October 2002, the City of Vienna completed a study on roof extensions. Reflecting its commitment to the objective of minimizing impact on Vienna's roofscape, the City of Vienna proposed to the political level that the Building Code should be amended in line with the Management Plan. The proposal that future permission for roof extensions within the areas covered by the World Heritage sites should generally be limited to a single floor only, is under discussion. Roof extensions in buildings under monument protection are already required to remain within the historic roofline, at least on the side of the building facing the street.
Management Plan: The City of Vienna's Management Plan for the two World Heritage sites of the Historic Centre of Vienna and the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn was completed in June 2002. In particular, the Management Plan also includes a corresponding organigram, which gives a detailed overview of all District Councils within the Historic Centre of Vienna (municipal districts 1 to 9 and 20) and around Schönbrunn (municipal districts 12 to 15), as well as all the relevant bodies and departments involved in the administration of the World Heritage sites. An initial interim report on the implementation of the Management Plan covers the new procedures and administrative processes as well as the relevant timetables and monitoring arrangements. Since the nomination of the Historic Centre of Vienna as a World Heritage site, the contents of the Management Plan have been elaborated in more detail. The Plan is supported at political level and is due for immediate implementation. The building plans for the new Ministry of Justice will have to be reviewed in terms of their possible impact.
ICOMOS welcomed the positive development initiated by the statement of the Mayor, Dr. Michael Häupl, of mid-March 2003 and therefore suggests that the World Heritage Committee could refrain from delisting the site. However, it remains to be seen whether the new project for “Wien-Mitte”, "scheduled for adoption before the end of 2003" will actually be "compatible" with the World Heritage site. This means that the new height should not exceed the height of the existing Hilton Hotel (60 m). Unfortunately, the almost completed Vienna City Tower (87 m), erected despite all protests, now has to be accepted as an error in urban planning - but only as a bad example to prevent future errors. There is hope that the presented management plan will lead to an improved co-operation between the State authorities (Bundesdenkmalamt) and the Municipal Authorities (MA19) and that the historic building stock will be listed quickly. Furthermore, the promised improvements to the Building Code could check the ever-growing number of roof extensions.
Summary of the interventions
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2003
27 COM 7B.57
Historic Centre of Vienna (Austria)
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Expressing its appreciation to the Austrian authorities for their strong commitment to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and the considerable efforts in finding a suitable solution in close collaboration with ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre,;
2. Acknowledges the establishment of a management plan for the Historic Centre of Vienna;
3. Further acknowledges the decision of the city authorities to revise the design of the "Wien-Mitte" project and to launch an architectural competition on city planning and to amend the relevant building codes;
4. Regrets that, in spite of the clear indications of the World Heritage Committee, one high-rise tower - not part of the "Wien-Mitte" Project - is being built;
5. Requests the State Party to continue to inform and collaborate with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS concerning the further development of the project and to provide a report thereupon to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004 in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 28th session in 2004.
Draft Decision: 27 COM 7 (b) 57
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Thanking the Austrian authorities for their strong commitment to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and the considerable efforts in finding a suitable solution in close collaboration with ICOMOS and the Centre,
2. Acknowledges the establishment of a management plan for the Historic Centre of Vienna,
3. Further acknowledges the decision of the city authorities to revise the design of the “Wien-Mitte” project,
4. Takes note that, in spite of the clear indications of the Committee, one high-rise tower - not part of the “Wien-Mitte” Project - is being built, thus threatening the integrity of the city landscape,
5. Requests the State Party to continue to inform and collaborate with the Centre and ICOMOS concerning the further development of the project and to provide a report thereupon by 1 February 2004, for examination by its 28th session.
Documents examined by the Committee27COM (2003)
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.