On level ground

Street level shops within walking distance are important amenities even today, and busy ground floor spaces greatly help to make urban neighbourhoods appear vibrant and inviting.

This is particularly true for inner-city districts like the Josefstadt. Over the past few decades, however, these ground floor spaces have been subject to dramatic change. Once filled with bustling shops and small businesses, they have gradually been abandoned and many premises are vacant.

We have looked at new ways to breathe life into street-level zones in our district.

Ludo-Hartmann-Hof, a municipal housing project built almost 100 years ago, is definitely a best-practice example. Even today it is bustling with activity. The impressive architecture and high rooms give it an appealing atmosphere, and the u-shaped walkway creates a small plaza that today serves as the shaded terrace of the charming CupCakes bakery, which opened a few years ago in a former office equipment store. Other former shops are now members of the ­music and theatre scenes – and our new editorial office. This mix of caterers and creatives is a wide-spread trend in many major cities around the world.

Thanks to excellent restaurants and innovative shops such as Pomp & Gloria or the wellington specialists of Gummistiefelhaus, even Lerchenfelder Straße is thriving again after years of agony.

Maximum flexibility is a key factor when dealing with street-level premises. The Zimmer in Piaristengasse is a perfect example of how spacious ground-floor rooms can be put to different uses temporarily, for example for pop-up stores, but also for short-time leases to festival organizers, NGOs or co-working spaces.


Barrier-free access at ground level is definitively also an asset for medical practices and other health-related facilities. Other new concepts include indoor playgrounds that afford easy access with prams or children’s bicycles. And ground floors are also becoming increasingly attractive as living spaces because the summer heat tends to be more bearable there.

The ‘Wien zu Fuß’ (Vienna by foot) app is a useful tool for pedestrians in the city, indicating footways and shopping areas as well as public toilets or drinking fountains.


issue 03/2020