The Viennese Donaukanal is a beloved recreational and leisure area along the banks of the canal that flows through the heart of the city. It is as popular among joggers and strollers as it is among nightlife visitors. Kaiserbadschleuse is the name of a historical floodgate situated on the canal in the form of a narrow concrete island. Through the redesign of this structure and its opening to the public, a unique and special new place has been created in the midst of the busy banks. The structure itself, which was built in 1904, is a protected monument. Although it has never served its intended purpose – it was inaccessible to the public for more than 100 years.
Firstly, the concrete island that is Kaiserbadschleuse was made accessible through the construction of two wide bridges that connect it to the banks of the canal. Thanks to their generous size, the bridges were designed as a playful topography made from wooden decking, within which green areas with perennials, shrubs and small trees are interspersed, leading the visitors from the banks to the island. On the island itself, elm trees have been planted in planting beds with perennials. The shaded spots that elm trees create offer comfortable sitting areas where one can relax enjoying a view over the water to the other side of the Donaukanal.
Ensuring the visual connection with the historical building named “Schützenhaus”, located on the opposite side of the canal, was one of the main goals of the new design. This building, designed by the famous viennese architect Otto Wagner, was built parallel with the Kaiserbadschleuse structure and serves as a landmark for this part of the Donaukanal. To additionally strengthen the connection between the two, a design element of axial symmetry, characteristic of Wagner’s works, has been referred to in the design of the new floating gardens.
Furthermore, a small granite stone paving has been used as a reminiscence of the historical context of the place in contrast to the contemporary style of the wooden decking and urban furniture. The transparent design of the island edges preserves the connection with the water while guaranteeing safety.
With the design of the Floating gardens at Kaiserbadschleuse, a unique and bold vision for the new type of urban green space has been created for the city of Vienna.
Project location: Franz-Josefs-Kai – Tragwerk 101, Vienna, Austria
Design year: 2016-2020
Year Built: 2020
Manufacturer of urban equipment: Streetlife