Urban Architecture?

Urban Architecture Spittelau Incinerator, Vienna, Austria
Spittelau Incinerator, Vienna, Austria Spittelau Incinerator, Vienna, Austria Spittelau Incinerator, Vienna, Austria
Click any of the photos to enlarge

I encountered this building recently. It’s quite surprising on first appearances, but gets even more surprising when you find out what function the building actually serves. It’s reminiscent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

So here’s what we’ll do: First person to tell me what this building is will win a prize. It’s a simple prize: I’ll send you 10euro (to a PayPal account).

Answers in the comments below, and I’ll contact the winner (so be sure to include your email!).

Update: Congrats to Brian Hamilton, who was the first respondent and had the correct answer.

The Building is the Spittelau Incinerator, in Vienna, Austria. It’s located bang in the centre of the city, and is one of two incinerators in the metropolitan area. More information on the “fernwarme” (as it is known) is available in english here, and the plant is lauded by the UN here (no. 86).

And now to the real reason for this post. What does this mean, particularly with reference to Ireland? Is this a way of making a potentially controversial public building into less of a problem, or is the design and decoration simply a way of papering over the bigger cracks that the incineration system brings with it?

This is an important question for Ireland- an Incinerator has been approved at Poolbeg in Co Cork, and another is proposed (but widely opposed) for Ringsend in Co Dublin. There is likely to be more proposed around the country (at this stage, none has been proposed on any basis for Co Donegal). There is a need for debate on the issue. The Austrians are very proud of their environmental record, and see incineration as an integral part of their waste management strategy. Is it possible this can be the same for Ireland, or is it unacceptable?

Please leave your comments below, or get in contact with me directly.

5 thoughts on “Urban Architecture?

  1. It’s the Stittelau incinerator in Vienna, Austria.

    If this wins, please give the tenner to a charity of your choice.

  2. Brian, well done, you got it in one.

    I posted the image (and the question) with the intention of stirring a bit of debate. Is this an example of good urban architecture, seeking to make a potentially controversial building more acceptable, or is this a case of trying to paper over the cracks where an unacceptable development has taken place?

    I’d be interested to hear what people think about this, and how it impacts on the proposals to put incinerators at various places around Ireland.

    As per Brian’s comment, I’ve donated the prize to Donegal Hospice, and added another E20 from myself.

  3. I’ve been to that incinerator. It’s a brilliant facility. And it’s pretty clean, too. Also, aren’t the surrounding residents given some deal on cheaper electricity or waste charges or something? In any case, there don’t seem to be many complaints. But continental Europeans seem to have a far more rational — and more advanced, common sense — approach to this issue than we do.

  4. The Spittelau (and the other incinerator in Vienna, the name of which escapes me, even though I have toured it) supplies reduced price heating to many thousands of flats and commercial premises around Vienna.

    In 1999, while on an exchange from St Eunan’s College to the Wiedner Gymnasium in Vienna, I was part of a group that toured many of Vienna’s waste management facilities, including recycling plants, dumps, and an incinerator. I was struck by their location; many where located either in residential areas or in other central locations. I can’t imagine any of the locations being accepted in Ireland.

    The Viennese are very proud of their facilities, but I’d be interested to see what the environmental lobby have to say, whether any data exist which would contradict the official view of the incinerators.

  5. Hi Damien,

    I remember being involved in a debate where I, perhaps inadvisably, tried to highlight the Austrian example to counter alot of negativity that was being given vent during the discussions. It was a tough crowd and amongst the many rebuttals I heard it was mentioned that our situation was different because:

    1) We do not have the track record of the Austrians on environmental issues.

    2) Government does not appear to be serious about the environment (Martin Cullen was Environment Minister at the time).

    3) Local government lack the imagination and co-ordinating skills to plan and design something as well run as the Austrians.

    We need to properly address these concerns, whether we agree with them or not, before we can confidently introduce the Austrian example into the debate.

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