1.         Historic Centre of Vienna (Austria) (C 1033)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2001

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1033/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1033/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

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”; November 2015: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to “Historic Centre of Vienna”

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1033/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 31 March 2016, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1033/documents, which – “reflects the views of the City”. This report is focused on the November 2015 mission. It informs that:

The City of Vienna is conscious of its responsibilities and obligations regarding the World Heritage status of the property. On 19 May 2016, the State Party sent a letter to the Centre informing of their decision not to pursue the land use planning procedure regarding the Vienna Ice Skating Club – Intercontinental Hotel – Vienna Konzerthaus development project.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The relationship between historic monuments and the historical urban fabric is an essential attribute of the OUV of the property. Since the inscription of the property on the World Heritage List, the quantum and scale of urban developments, including new high-rise buildings, have reached a critical level constituting a potential threat to its authenticity and integrity.

Focused on the Vienna Ice Skating Club – Intercontinental Hotel – Vienna Konzerthaus development project, the State Party report does not address some of the more broad-ranging requests made by the Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015), which relate to the planning and development controls that apply to the property.

The planning provisions recently adopted by the Vienna City Council for urban development, allow for a significant increase in scale in building height and density within the ‘consolidated city’ (encompassing the property and buffer zone). The “STEP 2025 Urban Development Plan Vienna”, adopted by the Vienna City Council in June 2014, is the current guideline for the spatial development of the city. It provides overriding planning principles. The 2014 High-Rise Concept and the Glacis Master Plan (developed under the framework of the STEP 2025 Urban Development Plan Vienna and adopted by the Vienna City Council in December 2014) foresee construction of high-rise buildings that would have an impact on the urban form and character of the city. If implemented, these provisions would erode the morphological coherence of the built form of the property by introducing new development of a form and scale that is inconsistent with existing historical assets. They would also allow for new development which affects the historical cityscape observed from distant views and vistas on some key landmark buildings.

The absence of exclusion zones for high-rise buildings and adequate instruments of control for height-volume and urban density creates an expectation about development potential by property owners and developers, which may in turn lead to further pressure for approval of other projects contradictory with the property’s OUV. Renovation of buildings should be implemented using contemporary architectural solutions, which specifically respect the historic roofscapes, which contribute to the authenticity and integrity of the property.

The 2014 High-Rise Concept and Glacis Master Plan do not appear to have been informed by an understanding of the values of the property, nor to have incorporated guiding principles provided by relevant international charters and recommendations, such as the 2005 Vienna Memorandum and the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape.

As the 2015 mission report and an earlier 2014 ICOMOS technical review conclude, the Vienna Ice-Skating Club – Intercontinental Hotel – Vienna Konzerthaus project design does not address the recommendations of the 2012 mission, particularly in relation to height. If the project were to proceed as currently proposed, the impact of the new building on both the close urban context and distant vistas of the property, from the Belvedere Gardens and Museum Palace, would be further exacerbated and accumulated impacts could reach a stage where its OUV is adversely and irreversibly affected. The World Heritage Committee may wish to acknowledge the State Party’s recent decision not to pursue the land use planning procedures for this one project, but the implications of this move are not known at the time of drafting this report.

Despite the Committee’s previous concerns over the property, including governance, it is regrettable that the property is returning to the state when the Committee was considering delisting it in 2002. It is thus recommended that the World Heritage Committee strongly urge the State Party to continue with the implementation of all relevant measures to improve the protection effectiveness and specifically the management system in light of previous decisions. Should the State Party fail to endorse and implement the relevant measures to increase the levels of protection in order to prevent any threats to the property and its buffer zone, it is recommended that the Committee consider the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in accordance with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.49

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.94, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Also recalling the concerns expressed by the 2012 mission regarding the critical level of urban development reached since inscription and its cumulative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and the need for new tools to orient the development process towards sustainable development that protects the attributes of the OUV,
  4. Noting the information provided by the State Party about the stage of implementation of the proposed Vienna Ice-Skating Club – Intercontinental Hotel – Vienna Konzerthaus project,
  5. Expresses its concern that the High-Rise Concept abolishes exclusion zones for high-rises in the Vienna urban areas, without having applied appropriate instruments of control for height, volume and urban density, which respect the OUV of the property; and that the Glacis Master Plan permits the construction of buildings of a scale that would have an adverse impact on the urban form and character of the Glacis area;
  6. Notes the recommendations of the 2015 mission to the property and requests the State Party to implement its recommendations and in particular aligning the use of the existing tools with the protection of the property’s OUV, including authenticity and integrity, as laid out in the Management Plan and associated legal instruments such as local Decrees on protected urban areas (ensembles, buffer zone etc.) and guidelines on urban development;
  7. Also requests the State Party to facilitate the preparation of revised planning rules and guidelines which:
    1. Establish parameters for the urban density as well as specific standards for building height and volume for the property and buffer zone,
    2. Safeguard the urban morphology that is an essential attribute of the property,
    3. Encourage sustainable development in the property and its buffer zone in harmony with its OUV,
    4. Require that all high-rise projects are evaluated through a comprehensive Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), prepared in accordance with the ICOMOS 2011 Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage properties, including reference to 3D visual simulations, so that the effects of the proposed development on the OUV of the property can be properly considered;
  8. Urges the State Party to halt any further approvals for high-rise projects, pending the preparation of the revised planning rules, and submit the proposed designs and related HIAs for any future high-rise projects to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  9. While noting the State Party’s decision not to pursue the land use planning procedures for the proposed Vienna Ice-Skating Club – Intercontinental Hotel – Vienna Konzerthaus project, nevertheless expresses its concern that the proposed project remains inconsistent with the recommendations of the 2012 mission and would adversely affect the OUV of the property, if implemented in its current form, and also urges the State Party to facilitate a major revision of this project design to:
    1. Reduce the height of the proposed building to comply with the recommendations of the 2012 mission report,
    2. Take into account scale and massing in relation to the characteristics of the location and the OUV of the property,
    3. Harmonize the project design with the attributes of the specific location, which is an integral part of the property,
    4. Reduce the visual impact of the proposed building on both the close urban context and views of the Historic Centre of Vienna;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit the revised design to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any decisions are made regarding its implementation, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017, with a view to considering, in the case of confirmation of the ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/8E.Rev,
  2. Congratulates the States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties located within their territories;
  3. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC/16/40.COM/8E.Rev, for the following World Heritage properties:

EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

  1. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger will be reviewed in priority by the Advisory Bodies;
  2. Requests the States Parties to provide support to the World Heritage Centre for translation of the adopted Statements of Outstanding Universal Value into English or French respectively, and further requests the World Heritage Centre to upload the two language versions on its web site.