Organisation : Verein Lokale Agenda 21 Wien , Austria

The Grätzloase programme is supporting the inhabitants of Vienna to enliven their neighbourhoods and to use free spaces in the city in creative and inclusive ways. It encourages experimenting with new and alternative forms of using the city's streets, squares, pavements and parks. Through funding of up to € 4,000 and and additional coaching, if needed, Viennese citizens are able to implement their own ideas of how free spaces should be used.

Agendas addressed
Urban mobilityPublic spaceSocial inclusion and integration
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
c) Johannes Kellner/Parkplatz? Spielplatz!

Vienna is a growing city and is gaining an additional 33,000 citizens every year. At the same time public space isn't growing in the same dimensions and it is becoming ever more important to use free space in multiple ways and make it accessible for different groups of society. The objective is a liveable and fairly shared city with socially mixed neighbourhoods and active citizens. Several programmes by the City of Vienna also tackle this aim, such as STEP 2025 ( and Smart City Vienna ( Local Agenda 21 Vienna contributes to this goal with the Grätzloase programme (

In Action
c) Johannes Kellner/City Golf Country Club

To achieve the goals mentioned above a civic participation approach was taken. This decision was based on the insight that a sustainable change in the usage of free spaces and the thinking about them has to be carried by the citizens themselves. They are the city, so they have to make the difference. Therefore the Grätzloase programme was initiated from 2015 - 2017. As the vice mayor of Vienna, Maria Vassilakou, puts it:

"We want to create vibrant neighbourhood oases in the city and fill places with life that have so far hardly been used for joint activities. For a certain duration, these projects will encourage people to use the free space or discover new ways of using it."

People can submit ideas via the programme website for projects that enliven their neighbourhoods and show how many ways there are of using free spaces. The pre-conditions are that the citizens have to be willing to implement these projects by themselves and that the project will use free space(s) in Vienna. A small team of professionals in the field of civic participation supported with additional coaching and took care of the management of the inquiries. A jury consisting of public officers representing different agencies of the public administration (traffic, urban planning, architecture), relevant for the necessary legal permits to implement these actions as well as experts from the Local Agenda 21 and the agency of Mobility Vienna are responsible for choosing which of the proposals will be supported.

Their decisions are based on following criteria: The action ...
. . . offers new ways of using free spaces together with others.
. . . motivates others to participate.
. . . supports neighbourly living.
. . . is creative and imaginative.
. . . is not profit oriented.
. . . can realistically be implemented in the allocated time frame.

If an action is chosen it is supported up to € 4,000 and is able to get additional coaching to ensure successful implementation.


c) Johannes Kellner/Landstrasse singt

Over the 3-year period of the programme almost 150 actions will have been implemented. The number of actions grew steadily from 30 in the first year to around 65 in 2017.

The character of the actions is quite diverse and represents the different aspects of social innovation of the programme. A lot of them are parklets, which create new free space in  parking lanes and offer different kinds of workshops and events. Other activities are street festivals, community gardening, a public stove for baking bread, a community building and implementing different kinds of street furniture. Examples of sharing economy, like sharing clothes and many more, are shown on the project's homepage:

In 2016 over 300 events took place in free spaces of Vienna. This figure represents the fact that one action mostly consists of numerous activities. For example, in one parklet (= one action) numerous activities like workshops, celebrations, picnics and so on are taking place.

For 2017 the total number of activities is still open, but there are already more activities than 2016 with more expected.

The number of parklets was growing as well. In 2015 three parklets were implemented. In 2017 the number grew to 29.

The main fields of activities are:

  • Parklets
  • Gardening
  • Learning
  • Sports and games
  • Street festivals
  • Art

Grätzloase has contributed to enlivening public spaces in Vienna as the grand number of projects and events demonstrates. Furthermore the great number of creative common activities started a shift in the view of the potential of such free spaces. Inhabitants of Vienna as well as the public administration came to realise and embrace the idea that free space is more than transit area and parking lanes but has the potential to be a space for living, learning, celebrating. Hence it is an important factor for social inclusion and sustainable mobility in a city. These processes of learning were noticeable in the local neighboorhoods as well as in the public administration, which became more and more open and supportive to the ideas of the inhabitants.

Additionally the neighbourhood oasis had a sustainable impact on local neighbourhoods as new networks of engaged citizens emerged around their activities in the programme. They have the potential of benefiting their neighbourhoods in several ways in the future and are contributing to the social inclusion in their living areas. Examples of this are the intensified communication within these neigbourhoods, the improvement of trust and the growing identification of the people with their local areas and therefore the growing will to take responsibility for each other and their environment.

The qualitative approach of the evaluation covers the attendance of the team of Local Agenda 21 Vienna at numerous events including spontaneous interviews with participants. After the implementation of the actions, the LA21-team had an evaluating conversation with the organizers, talking about the achieved goals and the lessons learned as well as the impact on their neighourhoods.

On the quantitative side the numbers of events, participants, organisers and so on have been gathered through personal enquiry or by the organisers.

Challenges and lessons learned
c) MA21 - Christian Fürthner/Parklet Adamsgarten

The neighbourhood oasis shows how a relatively small programme in regard to the financial investment can make a big difference for a city through the active involvement of its citizens. Their engagement and creativity is the driving engine behind the programme and the reason for its success.

Another lesson was that the jury and it's proponents from the public administration are not only important for deciding which actions to support but are important multipliers in their own agencies. They helped bring forward a cultural change in their agencies towards a learning administration.



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