First Winter School in Vienna

TRUSTMAKING consortium team members, representatives of city administration, students and associates came together for five days of exchange, excursions and hands-on activities under windy winter weather conditions. The winter school took place at the Social Design Studio of the University of Applied Arts Vienna and the focus area of our urban living lab: „Zukunftshof“ in Rothneusiedl, an area of city development.

It’s all about exchange
We established a series of winter- and summer schools over the course of our TRUSTMAKING project in order to foster exchange not only within the broad project team (among consortium partners), but also between them, local initiatives and city administrations. Site visits are key to grasping the specific realities as well as the scope of action in which our urban living labs will be implemented. It is also important for local partners to get a sense of the project’s outlines, aims and methodologies. The first of these weeks took place between January 30 and February 3rd of 2023 in Vienna.

Hosting a winter school brings with it a series of logistical challenges that we see as part of our research. How do we survive urban public space in winter time? What does the city, what do its youths need in the cold season? How can we create a welcoming space in harsh weather conditions? When talking about green urban infrastructure, we often think of the need for shading, water, and cooling systems for more and more hot summers. But could we also visualize them as places to stay during rain, wind, or even snow? This is why we challenged our guests to go beyond the walls of the University and create winterly experiences together. And we have caught a particularly windy week for it.

When we create together, we’ll get warm together
One focus of this particular winter school was to take a look back on the co-creation phase that has happened so far, as well as to project towards the future and the upcoming urban living labs. Hence, we organised a series of working sessions dedicated to different working packages of our project. The overall aim was for the consortium to be on the same page about all activities carried out so far and those to come. We jointly re-defined our objectivities and goals, debated about possible outputs, outcomes and impacts of the urban living labs, and took concrete steps towards implementation.

We have livened up the programme with excursions. On the first day, we explored the project area of our former project “PlaceCity” in Floridsdorf, Vienna where we also attended an exhibition opening of Social Design students at the premises that the studio still runs in that area: a little store front shop in the district centre. On the last day, Brigitte Felderer, head of Social Design studio and curator of the exhibition “Das Fest. Between representation and revolt” that was currently shown at Museum of Applied Art Vienna, gave a tour through the exhibition which also gave partners further inspiration on youth culture in Vienna and beyond. Furthermore, we certainly spent time at our local focus area: the city development area Rothneusiedl and “Zukunftshof”, to where we also invited guests and city administration.

The public program of the winter school consisted of two days for workshops, talks and activities at Zukunftshof. We started off by exploring co-research and co-design methods presented by Social Design students. Based on common urbanistic methods such as mapping and shared walks, they re-invented these methods with a twist. Ranging from mapping auditive qualities of specific city environments to using Tik Tok as a resource for understanding the use of urban spaces by teenagers.  The students’ presentations lay ground for further discussion among consortium partners about which methods to use for the urban living lab as well as it fostered understanding of our social design approach.

Being located at a barely heated former grange, the public program needed to provide plenty of possibilities to get warm. Hence for the next activities, we split up in three groups and prepared the place for the evening program while having the chance to exchange in a more informal way. The first group made the outside space cosy by making a bonfire, the second group set up the space for a movie screening and the third group was in charge of providing food. At a certain point, the bright red handcarts carrying loudspeakers were being rolled over the field from the barn towards the site, the goulash – a poem! – was simmering on the electro stove behind tarnished windows, while the jackets of some participants slowly absorbed the smell of the fire. Once everything was set up, we enjoyed dinner and a movie: Hot water bottles and blankets kept us warm from the outside, food and tea from the inside. The screening showed “Sonne” by Kurdwin Ayub (Austria, 2022), a movie that revolves around three teenage women in Austria and deals with topics such as friendship, belonging and religion.

The second day of the public program focused on green infrastructure and circular soil with a workshop by Treecycle and ROMM, as well as a valuable exchange with a group of youth that works at Zukunftshof. Unfortunately, due to an accident within that group, we had to cancel this part of the program as well as the subsequent clubbing against the cold at Zukunftshof on short notice. For all consortium partners an alternative activity was possible with a visit of the exhibition Climate and City in Transformation at TU Wien. In the framework of the project Cultural Collisions students and researchers at the faculty of architecture and spatial planning created a participatory exhibition for school classes to playfully explore the topic of climate change. We concluded the day with dinner and some music at Social Design Studio.