A community arts lab on social cohesion in Vienna´s most colourful 10th district



  • DATE:

    March 2016 - November 2017

  • Title: Led by:


  • In collaboration with:

    Caritas Vienna, Object 19, Community cooking, TanzdieToleranz, GB10, FairPlay, Eintagsmuseum, MA17, Angewandte-Social Design Vienna, Jugendkolleg, Superar

Project description

The assignment

How can community arts contribute to social cohesion? That was the central question in ´Liebes Kreta´, a social innovation lab around the Ankerbrot-Fabrik in the heart of Favoriten, Vienna´s colorful 10th district.

The neighborhood around the Ankerbrot Fabrik was once at the heart of the socialist movement with communal housing schemes and civic education programmes. Large parts of the factory grounds have been sold off and are in the process of being re-developed. Caritas decided to acquire on the central buildings, called ‘Object 19’ to establish a basis for some its most impressive social innovatives such as Superar, Magdas Kantine and Community Cooking. 

The purpose of our lab was to find a next generation of community arts initiatives to promote local development. In the process, we also tasked ourselves to forge strengthen ties between residents and the rich ecosystem of local organizations including many local resident associations, startups and established NGOs such Gebietsbetreugung, Wiener Wohnen, Fairplay, Blinklicht, HAVI and Jugend-Kolleg.

The process

As in other Kennisland labs, story-telling was used as the most important basis for understanding local dynamics and for relationship building. Over the course of 2016, our team collected dozens of stories from people of all walks of life in the neighborhood.  We used these accounts as a basis for a Liebes-Kreta exhibition, that was the start of the conversation with the community and organizations on burning issues and new ideas. Our work was followed by the local TV Station W24. Have a look at their account.

In a next phase we worked with citizens and organizations to translate themes and ideas from the exhibition into a set of 10 community arts prototypes for immediate testing. Could we turn cultural diversity as an inspiration to develop a local stand-up comedy scene? Could we find playful ways to promote more and greener public spaces, against the tide of urban growth and gentrification. What could be done to celebrate the vibrancy of the scene of migrant-entrepreneurs and their often colorful shops? And how to deal with overfull tram-lines that many residents named as a symbol of neglect and cultural tensions in the neighborhood?

In a series of iterations these and other ideas morphed into three larger initiatives to test at a larger scale in the second phase of the lab.

Results and lessons learned

In a series of iterations these and other ideas morphed into three larger initiatives to test at a larger scale in the second phase of the lab.

Admirabel:a mobile betting device that transformed a widespread local phenomenon of local betting into a social activity whereby citizens can compete with each other for mutual social support. It engages people to take time to connect with each other’s skills and lives through bets, asking the question: what can I offer my neighbor or a family member that does not require money? And what could they offer me? The art performance put a twist on the (sometimes toxic) habit of betting in the neighborhood. It questions the culture of gambling cafes that can be found on every other corner of the Viennese streets. And it aims at opening doors to different perspectives on (a sometimes not so easy) life.

From the first trials, Admirabel took the neighborhood by storm, drawing younger and older citizens out and offering food for thought and fresh ideas for established initiatives against gambling-related social problems. The project was awarded the best-social-design award at the 2017 Vienna-Design week,

The Kreta Olympiadeconnected four prominent perspectives for social cohesion in the neighbourhood. Kreta has a long and rich history of sports and sportshero´s – eg. in soccer and in cycling, that many older citizens still can relate too. Secondly, with the Olympiade we wanted to draw attention to the dwindling (green) public spaces in the district. Thirdly, we wanted to explore how we could mix community arts with sport initiatives from local initiatives and established sports-clubs. And fourthy, we wanted to use the Olympiade as a way to open up the Ankerbrot-fabrik and Object 19 to a broader public with makeshift installations for fitness, table tennis and dance battles. Citizens and organizations were able to explore a wide range of new connections and possibilities through sports & play, whilst reliving part of the rich past of the neighborhood as an impulse for a better future. See one of the many news reports here

The ´Haustierverein. Started as the result of a bet during the prototyping of Admirabel, the Haustierverein in Kreta connects people from all ages, backgrounds and streets through a shared love: their pets. The Haustierverein is aimed at being set up by and for neighbours with the help of the Liebes Kreta team. A photo-project with some of the high-art galleries in the ABF will result in an exhibition and a book later this year, as a seal of new and unexpected connections and collaborations.