LOCATION: Vienna, Austria, EU
OLD USE: Utility
NEW USE: Residential, commercial, cultural
The Gasometers were built between 1896 and 1899 in the Simmering district of Vienna near the Gaswerk Simmering gas works of the district. The containers were used to help supply Vienna with town gas. At the time, the design was the largest in all of Europe. The Gasometers were retired in 1984 due to new technologies in gasometer construction, as well as the city’s conversion from town gas and coal gas to natural gas. In 1978, they were designated as protected historic landmarks.
Vienna undertook a remodelling and revitalization of the protected monuments and in 1995 called for ideas for the new use of the structures. The chosen designs by the architects Jean Nouvel (Gasometer A), Coop Himmelblau (Gasometer B), Manfred Wehdorn (Gasometer C) and Wilhelm Holzbauer (Gasometer D) were completed between 1999 and 2001.
Each gasometer was divided into several zones for living (apartments in the top), working (offices in the middle floors) and entertainment and shopping (shopping malls in the ground floors). The shopping mall levels in each gasometer are connected to the others by skybridges. The historic exterior wall was conserved. One of the ideas rejected for the project was the plan by architect Manfred Wehdorn to use the Gasometers for hotels and facilities for the planned World Expo in Vienna and Budapest. On 30 October 2001, the mayor attended the official grand opening of the Gasometers, but people had begun moving in as early as May 2001. The Gasometers have developed a village character all their own and are a city within a city. A true sense of community has developed, and both a large physical housing community (of tenants) as well as an active virtual internet community (Gasometer Community) have formed. Numerous theses and dissertations in psychology, urban planning, journalism and architecture have been written about this phenomenon. Indoor facilities include a music hall (capacity 2,000-3,000 people), movie theatre, student dormitory, municipal archive, and so on. There are about 800 apartments (two thirds within the historic brick walls) with 1,600 regular tenants, as well as about 70 student apartments with 250 students in residence.