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


Previous monitoring missions

March 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission to the “Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn” 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) High-rise construction project of Central Vienna;

b) High-rise construction project of Vienna Central Train Station. 

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2010

In response to the decisions by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009, the State Party provided the requested Visual Impact Study (VIS) for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites “Historic Centre of Vienna” and “Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn”, dated January 2010. This study offers an examination of the potential visual impact of the projects “Vienna Main Railway Station” and “Kometgründe” on the Outstanding Universal Value of the two World Heritage properties. It was carried out from July 2009 to January 2010.

The study and its methodology was founded on a wide range of surveying technologies that allowed accurate field-of-vision analysis. These include laser scans, façade point clouds, a 3D topographical terrain model, accurate city maps, a 3D building information model and a 3D “roof model”. Due to the emerging data, the State Party indicates that it was possible to map all points within the city from where the planned high-rise structures would be visible at an eye level of 1.6m.

The presented VIS visualisations illustrate that the height reduction for the two tallest structures at the main entrance to the Vienna Main Railway Station, from 100m to 88m, proposed by the State Party to the Committee last year, will lead, in the opinion of the State Party, to the southern rear section of the Belvedere complex being minimally visually impaired. Contending, that this part of the property has a subordinate role, the State Party considers that the current statusof the railway station project does not impact adversely on the Outstanding Universal Value, authenticity and integrity of the property.

The State Party recognises that, even after reducing the planned building height from 120m to 73m, the study indicates that the Kometgründe project will create an alien element in its urban context, and notes that the project is located at a point in the cityscape less suited for high-rise buildings. The visualisations show that the visual impairments of the “Schönbrunn Palace“ property on its primary north-south axis are relatively slight, and concludes that the Outstanding Universal Value authenticity and integrity are not principally and substantially jeopardised, but the State Party also recognises that the west to east axis of the Schönbrunn property would be directly affected. It also notes that, since the Vienna City Council had already issued its approval for the Kometgründe project, this legal obligation will only become null and void if the project has not been implemented by autumn 2013.

The State Party indicates that, due to the tight time schedule imposed for the submission of the Visual Impact Study, and the significant technical input involved, it was not possible to develop visualisations of all points of view requested by ICOMOS.

The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS consider that it is unfortunate that the visual impact of the Kometgründe project on the west to east and diagonal garden axis of the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn property is only minimally considered and represented in the VIS.

Whilst giving the impression that the VIS fulfils the requirements of the Committee’s decision, the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS consider that several aspects and angles should have been further examined. Specifically, the views of Vienna by night with illuminated high-rise buildings have not been given any weight, and the views in winter were not sufficiently considered.

In addition, the VIS does not dwell on any aspect that would create a negative view of the two identified projects and omits placing any emphasis on an awareness that both Schönbrunn and Belvedere Castle relate to the Vienna City Centre. The VIS study considers only 1.60m high pedestrian viewpoints and all higher-level vantage points from across the city have been overlooked. If these had been taken into account, a different, negative perspective that could show an adverse impact on Outstanding Universal Value, authenticity and visual integrity of the World Heritage property might emerge. Furthermore, other important viewpoints have not been identified or considered. It is understood that a number of new high-rise projects that could affect the property have already received building permission and these have not been mentioned in the VIS study, nor was the World Heritage Centre informed about these developments in accordance with §172 of the Operational Guidelines. These buildings include the 80m high Raiffeisenhaus, the 8-9 storey Fiat Property and Marillenalm in Vienna-Meidling and the three proposed 110m high buildings in the Monte Laa area in Vienna Favoriten.

As required by Decision 33 COM 7B.89, the State Party also submitted a brief state of conservation report, dated 23 March 2010. This confirmed that the existing railway station buildings were being demolished; successful negotiations regarding building height reductions; no decisions regarding buildings had yet been taken; and that high-rise buildings in the project had been subjected to the VIS. The report also notes that several buildings have been recently demolished and, following architectural competitions, fill-in buildings have been constructed, or were about to be realized. In addition, the report indicates that several projects to add floors on top of historic buildings had been completed, or were under way, and concludes that the State Party considers that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property remains intact.


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


Decision Adopted: 34 COM 7B.76

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decisions 33 COM 7B.89 and 33 COM 7B.90, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Notes the considerable technical work involved in preparing and submitting the Visual Impact Study and that the authorities try to ensure compatibility of new architectural and facade design with the requirements of the protection of the World Heritage properties of the Historic Centre of Vienna and the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn;

4. Welcomes the commitment of the authorities of the City of Vienna to ensuring that the visibility of the new railway project does not impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of both World Heritage properties;

5. Also notes that the Main Railway Station project was reduced in height as a result of the decisions taken by the World Heritage Committee and requests that a further height reduction of the western towers and related features be carried out to completely eliminate any visual impacts on the Belvedere property;

6. Also requests that the World Heritage Centre be informed of any further changes to the current planning of the Main Railway Station project that could alter the findings of the Visual Impact Study;

7. Urges the State Party to further consider the adoption of local architectural forms and roofscape colors and improve architectural volumes of the railway station complex when viewed from distances across the city;

8. Further notes that the Kometgründe project will create an alien element in its urban context, and that the project is located at a point in the cityscape less suited to the construction of high-rise buildings and that this will impact adversely on the diagonal axis of the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn World Heritage property;

9. Further requests the State Party to reconsider the approved 73m height of the Kometgründe project tower-shaped section, to the previously recommended reduced 60m height;

10. Also urges the State Party, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to inform the World Heritage Centre of details of the various other recently approved and proposed new high-rise developments that could impact adversely on the Outstanding Universal Value of both properties;

11. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by ICOMOS a further Visual Impact Study that addresses all views required to ensure the protection of important views from and to the World Heritage properties and to submit a report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties of the Historic Centre of Vienna and the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn to World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2011.