Bad reputation is also a reputation?


It happens quite often that when you move to a new city and you start meeting local people, you repeatedly hear certain things and opinions about this place, good and bad. It is very human to have all those individual thoughts on which district or neighborhood is expensive, dangerous, artsy, extravagant, boring, alive, empty, crowded, gentrified, unused…every person has them about the place they live in, whether they like to admit it or not. Those thoughts, when shared and repeated a lot, turn into stereotypes. Those stereotypes, whether confirmed or not, create prejudices. Those prejudices can turn into different types of conflicts, which sadly decrease the quality of a common ground between people as citizens of the place.

Long story short, this is one of the things that have happened and still sometimes do to us, since we are still discovering Vienna as our new home. In this particular case, it happens to be the 10th district that has been brought to our attention, as the enfant terrible of  Vienna, a historic and cultural cradle.

With open minds and endless questions about all of Favoriten’s stereotypes and prejudices, we decided to just have a look at this district, wondering how and if in a city like Vienna an existence of such a bad mouthed place was possible. From Reumannplatz and Quellenstraße over to Favoritenstraße, Böhmischer Prater, and  Ankerbrotfabrik, it was as clear as the Tram 6 never is, that we wounded up in a “city” within the city, or rather in a bubble of underestimated possibilities, in social, physical, infrastructural and any other way. Favoriten is Berlin’s Kreuzberg before it became “cool”, only in this case, Vienna’s 10th district has already a natural, hidden cool that we want to show and make the citizens aware of, or rather more interested in.

The idea is

– to be a tourist in your own city, on one hand, and to develop an alternative shape of tourism for people how come to Vienna, on the other hand.

– to shift from just talking about multi culturalism in the city to becoming active about it, so that we break this superficial layer and learn from each other, learn about each other, understand more and benefit from each other’s cultures, instead of being afraid of and skeptical about them.

– to reevaluate the structure of the city, to find a new structure in an unexpected place and to develop its potential, so that it can become an example of how different parts in cities everywhere can live out their own potential.

For these purposes, we have been working on two types of visual output.

One is a documentary about Favoriten, which contains footage of urban spaces, the neighborhoods, traffic, everyday life and the dynamics of it, as well as vocal recordings of local residents that we have been interviewing. The visuals of this documentary serve as our own “eye”, as our perception of the surrounding and all its contents, structural and social. The audio on the other hand, supports the visuals but also gives a deeper understanding of the district, mainly because it is given by people who live in it and are quite familiar with different issues and places. The combination of these two aims to create a picture of Favoriten, which shows our experience as not only outsiders, but as very much being involved in comprehending the district and our individual approach as (social) designers and citizens. Nevertheless, the documentary is part of the working process for now so its result may turn out rather surprising or unexpected in the course of these next months. It is being made as a way of archiving the work process, on the other hand as a portrait in motion of the place that is our topic.

Our other output is the so called Newspaper – a satirical but also critical publication of Favoriten as a place worth visiting, seeing, living in. The newspaper should serve as a proper tool to be used when visiting the 10th district, showing places, spaces and people worth meeting, on one hand. Another highly important aspect of the newspaper is its presentation of results  from our research about Favoriten, namely about residential and infrastructural statistics, about people’s migrant background, including language, heritage and habits, local people’s memory spots and spaces, financial issues like the social markets in contrast to expensive gastronomy, public transportation, gentrification…by showing diverse interviews we conducted.

This Newspaper is meant to be made as a prototype for further sequels, featuring other parts of Vienna, as well as places in other, international cities, which are worth (re)considering. Regarding the design of the newspaper, we would like to mention that its content will include interviews with locals and with us, illustration, some photography.

As we would like to create a project, which is sustainable, further we digitalized and connected it to social media, so we created a network, through which the locals of Favoriten become our co-designers . After all, they are the voice we want to be raised. Details about designing and developing this part of the project are still to be developed.

We are very curious, very much looking forward to continuing our working process and quite fond of the 10th district already.