Excursion Hypotopia – a great example for tangibility

Hypotopia – shortly before a protest walk to the parliament has been undertaken

For those who are not familiar with Austrian “everyday life madness” a bit of background: … once upon a time, according to Wikipedia in 1896, there has been the foundation of Hypo Group Alpe Adria. Current Headquarters of this a bank, defining itself as a group with numerous cross-border activities in the Alps-Adriatic region is Klagenfurt (some might remember this city as the spot, Jörg Haider and its rightwing party, the Austrian Freedom party, unconfined ruled for many years…). Exactly this Hypo Alpe Adria turned into a financial nightmare for Austria – it became a so called “bad bank”.

An ongoing insanity, an ineffable disaster, keeping Austrias public mesmerized since quite a while. A growing number of scandalous news leaked to the public, including details on corruption right up to alleged unfathomable connections to shady mafia groups in the Balkans, highly irresponsible behavior in authorities and obnoxious getting themselves out of the affair. Despite all that, the Austrian government decided to nationalise the bank, bankruptcy needed to be averted…. reasoning with all sorts of explanations which can get, for non-experts at least, rather fast too complex.

Furthermore the Austrian government was quantifying the “bail out” with figures, ridiculous varying in size over months. Eventually the amount needed – obviously covered through tax-money – leveled out at 19 Billion Euros. (Never saw a plausible derivation from one other figure I can recall, which was 45 Billions..) Anyway. 19 Billion Euros seems to be it.

Ever tried to imagine such an amount of money? Ever tried to interrelate it with something directly connected to your personal life? I didn’t, I couldn’t even. A group of ambitious students did! They decided, that exactly these 19 Billion Euros need to be visualized – not merely virtual, but for real. Haptic and physical and materialized. They wanted to help all of us, who are not able to theoretically envision such an amount.

They started to create and build a model of a city, that could be implemented for the same amount of cash. In a rather short time, still highly well-conceived, they have shown, that the sixth largest city of Austria could be built. Hypotopia give space for 102.574 inhabitants and would cover 12,17 square kilometers.

They preconceived, amongst other aspects, sustainability, self-contained energy supply, vertical greenhouses for effective farming, small and creative workspaces – open to and for the use of the public, integrated and used the roofs for energy-extraction, as urban gardening planes and again open to the public.

Apart form making something intangible tangible, they additionally show a compelling vision of urban planning. It was good to wander through Hypotopia, as well as it is just great, that we will have the pleasure to host the initiators of Hypotopia later this year for a Future Lunchbox in our labs.

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The architecture of protest | Diana Contiu | TEDxViennaSalon // How can you make the sum of 19 billion euros tangible?
What is the proportion of that amount of money to spaces in which we live in?  How big is a city that can be built with this sum?

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