aspern Seestadt urban lab: an innovation leader in Vienna

aspern Seestadt aims to become an innovation leader in affordable housing, smart mobility and energy; and social inclusion.

In 2027, the population of Vienna is estimated to reach the two million mark. As a consequence, the need for housing, jobs, care places, green and open spaces and modern urban transport systems will increase. The City of Vienna sees these challenges as an opportunity to develop innovative ideas and concepts to improve the way people live together in the urban environment while simultaneously reducing their ecological footprint.

The Viennese are extremely proud of the high quality of life in their city. Innovation is essential to maintain this quality in a dynamic, prosperous city while also conserving resources. With its Smart City Wien Framework Strategy, the city has committed itself to doing precisely that. Working together with citizens, businesses and research institutions, the city administration aims to initiate new interdisciplinary collaborations and implement showcase projects which generate traction for future development.

The aspern Seestadt urban lab

One thing is evident: innovative solutions are not only about technological progress. A city is only “smart” when everyone benefits from it and the focus of innovation is firmly on people and their needs. New approaches to enhance community life in the urban environment and make it eco-friendlier are being piloted and tested at aspern Seestadt, a city within a city currently under construction and due for completion around 2030.

Subsequently, these innovative projects in the fields of mobility, energy, social provision and housing could potentially be rolled out to other districts of Vienna or to other cities. Seestadt functions as an urban lab, a pilot environment for urban planning and development. Smart City Wien stands for diversity, inclusion and cooperation. The master plan for Seestadt pursues an integrated approach underpinned by a mixed-use urban design concept. Seestadt is both residential quarter and business hub, providing space and opportunities for people and organisations of all kinds to actively co-shape their urban neighbourhood.

Facts about the project

The objective of aspern Seestadt is the creation of a new, multifunctional urban quarter for Vienna with flats, office space, local services and amenities; and a business, science, research and education hub. Located in the northeast of the city, with an area of 240 hectares and a planned gross floor space of 2.6 million square metres, Seestadt is one of the biggest and most ambitious urban development projects in Europe. Alongside the City of Vienna, the project is supported by a network of strong partners drawn from the public and private sectors; and overseen by development agency Wien 3420. A multi-phase development will see the creation of high quality housing for more than 20,000 people and space for thousands of workplaces. Approximately €5 billion will be invested in the project.

Housing and social issues

By 2050, Vienna aims to be the city with the highest quality of life and life satisfaction in Europe. Vienna is a city of diversity; and one strategy is to have mixed quarters with people of different ages, backgrounds and financial opportunities. Housing at aspern Seestadt comes in many different forms: owner-occupied or rented flat, big or small, student accommodation or serviced apartment. All homes are of high quality, most with spacious balconies, terraces or gardens. Urban gardening facilities, swimming pools and a variety of communal spaces offer the perfect opportunity for neighbours to interact with each other.

About 50 per cent of the Seestadt area is set aside for parks, green spaces, roads and the central lake. These intelligently planned and designed public spaces contribute to a good work-life balance in green surroundings, yet in the midst of a vibrant city with all the amenities of urban life.

A special Neighbourhood Management scheme is in place to help foster local initiatives. The team provides support for all local residents who want to make an active contribution to the community life. Several self-organised community housing initiatives offer residents the opportunity to realise individual ideas.

The local primary school – accommodated in an innovative campus together with a large kindergarden – has a focus on inclusion and integration of children with special educational and physical needs. Inclusion in the workplace is facilitated by Wien Work, a social enterprise for people who are disadvantaged in the labour market, currently employing 500 employees and apprentices. Interfaith dialogue between nine faith communities is promoted by an ecumenical centre project which is currently underway.


Seestadt’s local shopping facilities were in place right from the outset – with its unique shopping boulevard concept, it leaves nothing to chance when it comes to local amenities. A joint venture by retail expert Spar European Shopping and Wien 3420 AG ensures that all major sectors are represented in Austria‘s first managed shopping boulevard and that the retail mix on offer is as attractive as the rental yields for the developers, who in return create appealing ground floor zones.

Public Health

Vienna has a strong and socially equitable public healthcare system. Providing healthy living conditions for all population groups is a major issue for the City. Seestadt is a place where it is easy to live a healthy lifestyle. Plenty of green space, a laidback pace and a wide range of exercise options all play their part. Various GPs, specialist medical practitioners, therapists and pharmacists provide healthcare right onsite. A project named Healthy Seestadt has been started to ensure that inhabitants are satisfied with their living and health conditions.

Energy, mobility, architecture

One major EU goal is a decrease of per capita greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, compared to levels recorded in 1990. Thus handling resources carefully is a must, especially for newly built sites. Seestadt aims to meet ambitious energy efficiency and climate protection goals while fulfilling the requirements of the 21st century lifestyle.

Designed to be a city of short distances, aspern Seestadt plays a pioneering role when it comes to mobility. 40 per cent cycling and walking, 40 per cent public transport and just 20 per cent motorised traffic is the envisaged modal split for local traffic within Seestadt. A metrolink and a train station connect Seestadt to the city centre and other districts. Seven bus routes are operational in the area; with two tram links to follow. A dedicated Mobility Fund finances projects such as the SeestadtFLOTTE bike hire system. Smart mobility projects have been installed and the aspern.mobil lab conducts real life mobility research to find eco-friendly solutions for urban mobility. With tests and preparatory measures currently under way, auto.Bus Seestadt – Vienna’s first self-driving e-bus –will go into service on the streets of aspern Seestadt this year as part of a long-term scientific project. The extensive public spaces encourage people to cycle and walk – after all, a city’s feel good factor originates in the spaces between the buildings.

At aspern Seestadt, even the buildings themselves set new standards; with innovative, high-quality architecture in accordance with Total Quality Building criteria, using smart construction logistics to ensure careful use of resources and eco-friendly operations on all building sites right from day one. Currently 37 buildings in Seestadt have already been awarded by the Austrian Sustainable Building Council (ÖGNB) – among them is the innovative hybrid timber construction HoHo Wien.

Innovation and business

According to the Smart City Wien Framework Strategy, by 2050 Vienna will be an innovation leader through a continued focus on top-level research, a strong economy and education. Smart buildings such as plus-energy buildings act not only as energy efficient homes for people but also as testbeds for research and smart businesses. The Aspern Smart City Research Company (ASCR) has been conducting research into energy efficiency at the aspern Seestadt urban lab since 2013. The research work in the fields of smart building, smart grids, smart users and smart ICT is aimed at optimising urban energy production and consumption with the goal to reduce CO2 emissions.

Seestadt is evolving into a technology hotspot. At the Vienna Business Agency’s Seestadt Technology Centre, researchers are already working side by side on a whole range of different projects. In order to meet the ever-growing needs of high-tech industries, the Seestadt Technology Centre has been developed as a competence centre for the cutting-edge tech trend Industry 4.0 – an attractive research environment and exciting opportunities for collaboration to companies in this field. Also, Seestadt provides a unique testing ground for the future of urban manufacturing.

This year the Ladeside Park Quarter, the prime location for offices, retail, trade and commerce, will be almost completed. A lively shopping boulevard, well-planned public spaces and privately financed apartments round off the vibrant mix and make for a feelgood atmosphere in Seestadt’s business hotspot, the perfect location for large companies, innovative start-ups and bold ideas. By now, Seestadt is already home to 150 enterprises and around 2,000 people are working there.

Ingrid Spörk

Wien 3420 aspern Development AG

+ 43 1 774 02 74-39

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