Ina Homeier-Mendes, Municipality of Vienna, Urban Planning

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Ina Homeier-Mendes
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Viennese Area Service Offices

Viennese Area Renewal Offices

Wiener Gebietsbetreuung

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Viennese Area Area Offices are an important instrument for a smooth, participative urban renewal. They are “on the spot” offices for information and coordination of the renewal of public space and should link a schemata for the renovation of housing estates, the redesign of public space and ecological measures.
The first Area Renewal Office was opened in 1974, in a densely built area of the Gründerzeit period. In the meanwhile there are 21 offices, of which one is mobile. Their aim is to improve the quality of life in densely built, overpopulated and deteriorated quarters of Vienna.

Legale Structure: The Area Renewal Offices work on behalf of the City of Vienna, they are directly responsible to the Municipal Department 25 and thus to the Chief Executive Councillor of the Administrative Group Housing, The definition of priorities and the coordination of the Area Renewal Offices, as well as the selection of the urban renewal areas is task of the section of the Executive Office for Urban Planning, Development and Construction responsible for urban renewal. Contractors, so to say the “Area Renewal Office”, are civil engineering offices and housing developers, their staff members are architects, lawyers, spatial planners, engineers, experts for law governing tenancies and social workers.
The City of Vienna is investing about 3 Mio Euro a year.
Organisation: substantial is the external appointment of the Area Renewal Offices, thus they are more flexible and not subject to instructions. They are “catalysts on the spot”, as they are mediating between concerned inhabitants, politics and administration. 
Although they have no formal competences, no active and passive legal status, no right for hearing and objection and no access to any kind of budgetary resources, they again and again achieve results. Substantial for the establishment of a basis of confidence in the population seems to be that the Area Renewal Offices are not undertaking any kind of profitable activities in the quarters, which are under their supervision.
They have two main fields of activity: residential field (animation to renovation, improvement of apartments and grass of courtyards, consultation in cases concerning tenancy problems; target is the improvement of the living conditions in a participative approach and without expulsion of the concerned inhabitants, and to affordable prices) and the improvement of the surrounding environment (proposals for measures in the public field, establishment of new green spaces and residential roads, quarter development concepts etc.). In the meanwhile the Area Renewal Offices assume larger and less clearly defined fields, which means that they start to get responsible for everything that occurs, and implement projects, which are not clearly under their responsibility, see as well

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