Marion Vicenta Payr (@ladyvenom) continues to show us a unique perspective of her home city of Vienna, Austria, this time focusing on the city’s steady evolution from historical and traditional to creative and modern.
You say that Vienna is evolving from traditional to modern. Can you provide us with an example? Who or what do you think drives this evolution?
One of the many great examples of how Vienna is evolving is the city’s new and creative emphasis on mobility. In addition to having an extremely widespread and efficient public transportation system, the idea of bike and car sharing is becoming very popular. The city is investing considerably in the development of new bike paths and pedestrian areas, thereby reducing traffic in the city. We decided to sell our own car 2 years ago and have never looked back.
In general, this evolution is driven by a multitude of stakeholders, from public and private initiatives, to artists and creatives, to local shop owners and residents, and to politicians. Everyone has to work hand in hand. Of course, this doesn’t go without conflict and discussion; but this is also a part of city evolution. It’s a never-ending process.
Do you see this evolution as positively or negatively impacting Vienna? Why?
In my opinion, this evolution is absolutely positive. Of course, the city lives off of its image as place full of traditions and imperial glory, which holds a lot of power for tourism and also creates a mindset that values what former generations have created and built. But as a current inhabitant of Vienna, I don’t see a lot of use for glorifying a past that has little impact on our daily lives. I am in favor of preserving the historical foundation of the city, but in the context of a more open and modern mindset. For example, I think that it could be of great value to transform some of the historic buildings into modern places of encounter.
Where is your favorite spot in Vienna to see this evolution from traditionalism to modernism really play out?
The Museumsquartier is a perfect example of this evolution. The old imperial stables have been transformed into an area filled with cultural and societal initiatives, amazing museums, restaurants, public hangouts, and bars. It’s a place where the tradition is still visible, but it has evolved into a space full of life and creativity that is very well accepted and used in Vienna.
Have you seen this transition in other European cities?
Of course; this trend isn’t unique to Vienna. Cities always experience constant change, but Vienna may be one place where that change is actually happening a little bit slower. Several reasons explain this: first, Viennese people are a little more skeptical and also quite anchored in their bourgeoise lifestyle. This is also one of the beautiful qualities of Vienna, though, and because change doesn’t happen all that quickly, you don’t feel overrun by unstoppable evolution. It’s more of a slow, natural process. I suppose Vienna is like a sequoia tree, growing steadily, but slowly for hundreds of years. And you still want to wrap your arms around it.
Would you describe yourself as a traditionalist or modernist? Why?
I’m probably a typical Viennese, trying to walk the middle path. I don’t see a lot of use in being too nostalgic, but I also wouldn’t want to live my life chasing a future that’s not here to grasp just yet. While I enjoy the historical flair of the city and its slow pace, I also love to experience new artistic perspectives or discover creative new places and people. This mix is what I think makes Vienna an amazing place to visit and to live.