// Stadlnova without compromise //

In his essay, Andrej Gogora wants to seduce us Stadlnovians to live a modernist experiment, inspired by Otto Wagner’s ”concept of urban growth that would place no limits on the size of cities” entitled ’Die Großstadt’ from 1911.

As a first step we usually define the problem, then inspect the lock and after all we try to find the key. This time it will be exactly opposite. We already have the key – just put it into a lock and turn! But I must divulge that this key will be wrong. Nevermind, try it anyway, even if it gets stuck. Ultimately, in human history many doors were smashed or unlocked by passkeys.

Well, my suggestion for Stadlnova comes from Otto Wagner's project of Die Großstadt (1911). In this brief pamphlet he proposed a plan for a modern reconstruction of Vienna. We will drive along his wonderful landscape, across the zone boundaries and through the neat houses, without permission, but at any cost and for high prices. Continually, till the point when we can say that utopia didn't outwit us, at least for a while. In fact, what would it be like if we were really modern? Let's see it. Maybe we will learn something about Stadlnova.

This project didn't arise by chance. It responded to the industrial, commercial and snaky town. Thus it rose up against the factory pollution and sewages, as well as against the land machinations, slums and cancerous city expansion. Then, it turned against the jagged medieval cityscape, mazy and narrow corridors, walls and congestion... all those lovely trifles adored by Camillo Sitte. Naturally, Wagner had no confidence in these beasts. So, in order to protect Vienna from a mess, speculative growth and blind chance, he proposed a practical solution – vision of a modern town, Die Großstadt.

To be precise, countless threats and hybrids boiled over in the city that time. Nevertheless, let things go on and continue in fable, maybe we trace them out later. In general, Die Großstadt consists of two operators – systematic regulation and unlimited growth. Their collaboration results in an image of the city which develops constantly and under rigorous conditions. This is a major job and they perform it heavenly. In practice, Wagner has drawn a spider web around Vienna. Yes, correctly, a network! But be careful, for you can fall into a trap. It has a solid and regular shape, and what is worse, it has a shape.

In detail, Wagner divided whole city into self-contained districts, each one occupies an area of 500 – 1000 hectares and accomodates aproximately 100,000 – 150,000 people. With few exceptions, each district has the same ground plan – a rational grid. If the population exceeds that limit, we just add the new quarter, next to an already existing one, and so on, in every direction, over and over again. This explosion can't have any restriction, except for the geometrical regularity and architectural uniformity. Needless to say, this business is indispensable for the future of our towns.

What about Stadlnova? How does it relate to this project? Dream up that everything that was promised has been fulfilled – that we are very modern, perhaps in the Wagnerian sense. He predicted that any given town will double in size in 30 years. If that came true, today, a hundred years later, there would be a continuous carpet of settlement between Vienna and Bratislava. Thus Stadlnova would be a part of Die Großstadt, a piece of the cake. And what's more, Bratislava would barely be a provincial suburb. Just imagine a cumulative network of identical wards which unstoppably devour all around – all the scattered shanties, fields, memories and clusters of deflections.

Let's relocate ourselves in this shiny playground, in fictive Stadlnova (call it a flesh and blood modern space). Where do we end up? Is it worth? In spite of doubt, it won't be a dreary tour. On the contrary, this scenario is so pretty wasteful and extravagant that we won't miss all the banal and subtle urban stuff. Maybe we'll fall in love with it and then we'll come back unwillingly. After all, we have it in our nature.

It seems that Stadlnova is either an incredible realm or a monstrous territory. Despite all objections we can afford to get stuck in such a polarizing demarcation. Moreover, unbutton and deliberately set up other contradictions. Forget the carefulness and foresight, there are enough of them – order and disorder, human and nature, structure and event, line and curve for example. In addition, we can sort them out and select the best of each couple. You may guess which one it will probably be. We are going full blast. In Stadlnova is neither compromise nor middle way. Just neatness and clarity, winners and losers. Either Opel or Volkswagen. It is just like that.

Well, let's hang around and take a glance at Stadlnova. What's the area of reason and man? Soon we'll find out that besides the fixed grid and rectangular axis, there are dynamics spreading out, which constantly vitalize and reactivate this flatness. Resuscitation is an apt word, for to conquer territory and to retain it are very different acts. We are talking about well managed flows and branched routine operations such as an ingenious traffic system, bureaucracy, leisure and shopping outlets as well as other less apparent circulations. These networks are quite complex and closely related, but watch out, they drag you into the endless circuits. Leakage, not an escape, then becomes a bit complicated.

Oh, stop, I digress too much. Whether the rational grid is fake or not has no importance for us. Under given conditions it's only speculation. Stadlnova is not at all like that. Do not cheat! Keep to the point – the topic is a true utopian space. Here we see how hard it is to be careless, to play modern and not to be pushy. Fair play is now of no use. We want a pure vision, no Burgenland's wine. Sober up and feel free to exaggerate, to preach the new beginning and to become a modern without remorse. Let's try it as long as it's possible. Overdo, ignore blood suckers and refrain from comments.

So therefore forget CENTROPE and let's back into Stadlnova paradise. Revive its fantastic landscape, pretend that it really took place. First of all, look at it from above. Stadlnova is not just any fiction, it's based on solid ground. It is a replica of the universal order – the best work of a man and reason. Stadlnova is absolutely clear and self-evident, it is the finest embodiment of unity, regularity and expansion. There is nothing better. All is perfectly set up and it'll never wear out like mossy border bunkers. Its beauty lies in high speed and flawless circulation. This is given in advance and top-down, not vice versa.

We still haven't gone to the extreme. Raise! Stadlnova is rupture and deep furrow in history. There was almost nothing before, for all the best started up in its layout. Stadlnova never had the taste of wars, occupations, Iron Curtain, customs officers, miseries, developers or the shooting of Devínska Nová Ves, only progess and the same footprint. So there is no becoming, thus no obsolence. Mankind has no time for such stupidities. No need, everything is already done and still fresh, and so it will be. It follows the autobahn of modernity which leads to comfortable, healthy and sunny living. What a bliss!

Townies can't complain about anything. They are confident of systematic expansion. Everyone knows what will happen and to know means to be a happy. No rage of nature so life is easier then. No plot of Twin City so place is more objective then. Citizens have even more reasons to rejoice. Stadlnova is marching deliberately, providing luminous housing, full facilities, continuous traffic, tidy streets and verdure go without saying. Last but not least there are ruling tactfulness and brotherhood, no trauma of rich West and poor East. Everything, from urban scheme to social relations, is pre-arranged, thus attractive and for free, not like Konfrontationen (the top-rated but not well-known international festival for improvised and new music in Nickelsdorf). You just have to get involved.

Well, wake up, otherwise it will be a neverending story. I guess we aren't longing for that. What can be said, from this bombastic viewpoint, about possibility of present space between Bratislava and Vienna? Or else, what is so thrilling in utopian Stadlnova? Suppose that its allure consists in its debt. The higher price, the more excitement. In other words, the more shining scheme, the higher charges. What the hell it has in common with money? Nothing, but everything costs something.

Abstractly, each action implies a great deal of tools, stuff and pieces of information. Some are cheaper, others expensive. We're not exempt from taxes and something similar is true of concepts and theories – quid pro quo. Their price is not as painful as the mortgage payments but they require a certain effort and interest. Each standpoint has it's price, each principle brings arrears and payoffs. Nothing is for free. The uniformity of a project is demanding and hard to maintain. All the more when the goal is to become tangible. Finally, outcomes will issue a bill.

In our case, Stadlnova is pretty costly and in debt. Why? It is hunger for something pricey without having to do anything. In fact, this terrific social fabric requires huge amounts of means, checkpoints and vehicles. It must assure ceaseless supervision, immaculate and smooth circulation (clear of noise and mutation). Just imagine what kind of crowd is necessary to preserve the balance of this space. Modern man and reason are not sufficient. Don't be so proud. Demands are too high. Society didn't make a deal because the price simply couldn't be paid. Nothing occurs, only a draft of the contract remained.

In conclusion, that's why we call projects like this utopia. They have a high price and therefore are so attractive – they incur a loss for the sake of carelessness. But it reveals something more valuable. It cross refers to the way we should or shouldn't think about actual Stadlnova and hints how it should or shouldn't be imagine. Suffering from trying to be a really modern taught us an accountability and fair mind. Overcharged idyl reminds us how to calculate the rate of exchange, how to take account of each item, how to not run into debt, how to redeem ourselves, thus how to be prudent. This method says: Let´s indulge only in the things we can afford. Nothing more.

Andrej Gogora

English translation of Die Großstadt: http://www.library.cornell.edu/Reps/DOCS/wagner.htm


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