Urban Development: SolarCity, Linz, Austria

Description: This neighbourhood built in Linz Austria has been heralded as an urban development project which has managed to address three aspects of sustainability: economic growth; ecological balance; and, social progress. Its planning started in 1992, through the development of a regional concept plan and master plan. The catalysts for its development were to address the high demand for housing in the region, particularly from low and middle income earners, and respond to the ecological global challenges of our planet. The Provincial Capital of Linz also identified that there were many jobs in their city but not enough people – they therefore had a large number of people working from outside their city limits and wanted to reduce the traffic demand associated with this. In 1994 construction started in association with a number of non-profit residential construction organisations. It is now home to over 3,000 residents.

Planning highlights for solarCity include:

  • Mixture of land uses – schools, childcare, local shopping, social and cultural facilities, halls and function rooms, restaurants and residencies
  • A key access boulevard forming the functional and spatial link of the neighbourhood, combined with a centre square creating the focal point
  • “The square and the ensemble of buildings cross the boulevard to connect the northern and southern parts of the city. The green shimmering surface extends like a carpet both inside and outside, covering the surfaces of the buildings and the side streets, the pedestrian zones and the areas for vehicular traffic. Pedestrians, cyclists, motorists use this carpet together and adjust their speed to suit the special situation of an urban square.”
  • Ecological advances through energy savings in production, operation and recycling
  • Open space – includes an extensive lake system, landscaped parks and nature reservation areas. A key challenge was to balance access to attractive open space with protecting the natural landscape of alluvial forests along the Traun River. The development provided a landscape park as a filter between the two as well as nature trails through the nature reserve which allows public access whilst subtly controlling access to this environment
  • Comprehensive use of solar energy through design of buildings and houses, solar panels and building orientation
  • Extensive strategies for drainage and sanitation involving re-use of all by-products and storm water runoff
  • Transport system which aims to keep residential areas as free of motor vehicles as possible by providing maximum priority to pedestrian and cyclists and funnelling traffic along the boulevard into underground car parking. The plan also included extending the tram line from Linz (and consequent connections to a more regional rail line) into the development and provision of a local bus system provided within solarCity

For more information visit http://www.linz.at/english/life/3199.asp