30. Juli 2020

Liquid Public Space Tour & Talk 

During our swimming talk with Cornelia and Christina we had explosive, funny and important discussions on the topic of ‘liquid public space’ in and on the Danube Canal.

It is striking that the Donaukanal is defined and regulated as a public space, however, the public image of the area in our collective imagination only traces the banks of the Kanal, and never the enormous space in-between - the flowing water. Schwimmverein Donaukanal believes that the communal enjoyment and activation of the entire Danube Canal zone only really gets going through swimming.

Who does the Donaukanal actually belong to? What is your relationship with the Kanal? How well do you know the nature of the Donaukanal? How do you imagine the future of swimming in the Donaukanal? What changes in you if you (often) go swimming there?

Commercial vs. Public Use: So who does the Donaukanal belong to?

Christina illustrated the current dynamics of the Donaukanal area with the case of Hermann Strandbar: classified as a public space in the zone plan of Vienna, Hermann Strandbar is now fully commercialised - on this refreshing site, probably no one would

feel comfortable drinking a beer they have brought with them. Nevertheless, the Vienna master plan provides for non-consumption zones, an important step forward.

From the urban psychology perspective, Cornelia presented her own research - namely, the discoveries she made about the different types of relationships that citizens have with the Donaukanal. The personal relationship to the Donaukanal can change dramatically, once the citizen start swimming in the area. Embodied experiences and shared social activities better connect us to the places we live in, we deepen the relationship and develop a stronger feeling of belonging and care.

We have also worked out a distinction between a communal and a public space. While in the public space an authority such as the city or the state regulates the set of rules, in the communal space the common use and the diversity of interests and groups is repeatedly renegotiated as a process - this is exactly the invitation on the Danube Canal to all Viennese and others, who are ready to embark on such an adventure.