The Revival of the Lifeline
year: 2023 | typologie: pupblic | status: koncept
"The Rainerstraße - The Revival of the Lifeline" is the master's thesis by Paul Lechner at the University of Art Linz, supervised by Architect Peter Haimerl. In the 19th century, Rainerstraße was conceived as a grand avenue, along which majestic buildings like the historic Kurhaus and Hotel Europa were erected. In the post-war modern era, many of these qualities were sacrificed in favor of traffic thoroughfares. The construction site
for the local rail extension now opens the opportunity to redesign the mentioned stretch above ground, aligning the original historical intent with the current challenges of our time. The design is based on unrealized 19th-century city expansion sketches, creating a 1.2-kilometer-long park landscape that establishes an evocative connection between the classic baroque/medieval city center and the central train station.
Special attention is given to the area around the Kiesel building, which becomes a central element of the park landscape in this project. As part of the rail extension construction, the existing rail promenade in this section of the park landscape is being demolished. This work proposes designs and dimensions for a new rail promenade. It also addresses the challenge of urban heat and suggests a potential solution for transforming Rainerstraße into a shared zone for traffic.
The goal is to restore Rainerstraße as a lifeline. The park landscape, with its numerous squares, offers space for events and celebrations like "Take the A-Train" or the Unite Parade, as well as for daily use by residents and visitors. Rainerstraße connects Salzburg's main train station to the vibrant heart of the city. Currently, it is dominated by individual traffic and does not invite people to linger in most sections. However, this was not always the case; it is the result of continuous change.
Where there are now apartment blocks, there were once castles and parks. Where the metal of cars now dominates, there were once magnificent avenues and grand edifices. They made way for progress, the enthusiasm for the new, and important elements were lost as a result. But every era offers new opportunities, and for Rainerstraße, that time has come. The local rail extension provides the chance to reestablish Rainerstraße as a lifeline once more.
Significant Urban Intensification around Salzburg Central Station. The construction of the new Hotel Europa marked the erection of the first high-rise building, resulting in the demolition of the old hotel palace. Instead of grand boulevards leading into the city, practical roads for automobiles were established. Südtirolerplatz was promptly converted into a car park and bus terminal. Many of the old grand buildings were demolished and replaced by modern structures, such as the Kurhaus. The atmospheric connection to the historic city of the Archbishops of Salzburg was lost. In the city center, prominent places like the Old Market and Residenzplatz were also turned into parking lots. In the 1950s, Südtirolerplatz was characterized by car parks and a bus terminal. As part of the local train station's lowering, an international competition was held for the redesign of the square. The winning project by the architectural firm Schürrmann & Partner gave rise to a large stone-paved square with a labyrinth fountain and a beech grove, in the center of which a memorial for the victims of National Socialism was placed. One key aspect of the design, the relocation of the bus terminal, was not implemented. Consequently, the square remains divided by public transportation today. The square's redesign and the rerouting of individual traffic significantly improved the arrival
experience at Salzburg's train station, in the author's opinion. The S-LINK Project aims to redefine urban and regional mobility in Salzburg by creating an attractive, well-coordinated transportation network for all modes of transport and interfaces. It envisions establishing a north-south axis from Salzburg's main train station through the old town to Hallein in the southern part of the state capital. The integration of regional connections, such as those to Bavaria, is considered from the outset. The S-LINK will extend the existing local rail line from northern Salzburg through the city center to Hallein in several phases. Mirabellplatz will serve as the future hub of public transportation and the first stop on the S-LINK. The local train station at Südtirolplatz was constructed in an open construction method. In contrast, the realization of the first section of the local rail extension is carried out using a covered construction method. Compared to the open construction method of the local train station in the image on the right, most of the excavation is done under the cover, reducing noise and dust pollution for the local residents. The first section follows the route of Rainerstraße to Mirabellplatz. During the construction, Rainerstraße will be closed to traffic. However, cross-traffic will still be permitted, as it is the city's main traffic artery.
fFor this construction method, it is advisable to redesign these areas as part of the closure process. The functional inspiration for the 'Rainerstraße Lifeline' is the Barcelona Block. Particularly, the motif of the oversized zebra crossing bestows an atmospheric presence upon pedestrians and is also applied in the Rainerstraße design. Based on the analyses conducted by the S-Link Society, it is feasible to effectively restrict individual traffic – with the exception of local residents' traffic – for a significant portion of this route. Cross-traffic can continue to flow, albeit slowed down by the mega zebra crossing. The objective is to create a traffic-calmed lifeline from the main train station to Mirabell Palace and beyond. As a result of climate change, temperatures are on the rise, especially in urban areas. These areas are evolving into what are known as 'urban heat islands,' which heat up significantly due to the lack of vegetation and human activity. Long-term studies by the City of Salzburg reveal a substantial increase in temperatures in the project area between the old town and the main train station. These urban heat islands are created by sealed surfaces and buildings that store heat and release it slowly at night. To counteract overheating, measures involving water features through evaporation, light-colored surfaces, and greenery are employed."
THE CAR YEARS
Walkable Green Area
Wild Green Area
Cools the Surroundings
Wild Green Area with
Deeper Soil for
Demanding Tree Species
Collect, Filter, and
Distribute Surface Water
SWAMP CITY AND ZONING
The bay at Perronplatz formally illustrates the interplay of tree clusters and squares, shaping urban spaces through green areas. Functionally, the depicted square follows the principle of the sponge city. The squares are equipped with water basins that collect surface water and filter it into the underground. The water basins are surrounded by seating stones that not only invite people to linger but also serve as a physical barrier to direct local traffic. The green areas, in turn, are divided into
walkable ground surfaces with grass pavers and pure green areaswith deeper soil.These are conceived as 'small, wild forests' that further cool the environment. In the walkable green areas, trees grow from ground rings. The tree species vary according to their positioning in the park landscape. The squares are devoid of trees intentionally, designed as clearings. The pavements serve multiple functions. They provide directions to pedestrians and contribute to local climate regulation.
Surfaces that heat up less have been deliberately chosen. Additionally, the cooling properties of green areas are harnessed. Therefore, a light concrete surface is used for the squares. Grass pavers are employed for drivable surfaces. They come in different designs to visually guide users and differentiate the ground surface into various zones. The third form of surface design is the wild green area. This is fashioned as a hill, where nature can grow freely and has ample root space."
Perspective at the Kiesel Building
The fundamental intent is to reinstate lost qualities and respond to current challenges. The city center zone is to be seamlessly and atmospherically connected to the station district. For this purpose, a 1.2-kilometer-long park landscape is conceived, stretching from Salzburg's main train station to Makartplatz in the city center. This park landscape is organized like a string of pearls, emerging from the park and inviting people to linger. Key locations, such as the Kiesel Park and the rail promenade, are described in detail. The city view by Franz Kulstrunk from 1916 serves as historical inspiration for the park landscape. It all begins with Empress Elisabeth. Her statue is hidden behind bicycle racks and is situated in a neglected park. The first intervention, coming from the main train station, frees this statue and creates a square. This square includes the first mega zebra crossing, which is intended to slow down traffic and welcome people from the main train station into the new park landscape. Clearings and green areas start taking shape in this area and, as they approach the Arte Hotel, their formal design becomes increasingly dynamic. Access to the Kiss&Ride Garage, where ÖBB's car sharing is located, remains open. Bus traffic continues to be possible in the shared zone, with a reduced speed limit of 20 km/h." A pivotal point within the 1.2-kilometer park landscape
is the square in front of the structure known as 'the new rail promenade.' This forms the joint of the park landscape, with the new structure serving as a guide, seamlessly integrating the flow and dynamism of the ground and square design. The existing gas station makes way for a meeting space designed as a park with a playground. This addition is essential, as despite the high building density in the area, there is a lack of quality infrastructure for children in the immediate vicinity. At the end of the structure 'the new rail promenade,' the railway underpass presents an atmospheric barrier. This is intended to be overcome through the design of the transition from Motzkoplatz to Imlauerplatz. Beyond the railway underpass, the formal dynamism intensifies towards Mirabell Palace. Woodlands and clearings alternate rapidly, creating both leisure areas by the water and space for restaurant gardens. The numerous trees provide cooling, and the clearings make room for an urban ambiance. Cross-traffic is permitted in this area at two points. Firstly, at Markus-Sittikus-Straße in the vicinity of the roundabout, which remains usable as such for local residents, and secondly at the intersection with Auerspergstraße in front of the Congress House. The park landscape as a lifeline consistently connects to the existing city, integrating
its high-quality features.Mirabellplatz, for example, offers central existing qualities that should be utilized for the redesign. The mega zebra crossing leading to Hubert-Sattler-Gasse is meant to slow down traffic once more before the new Mirabell squares emerge. The historic Mirabellplatz was dissolved as part of the city expansion. The new Mirabell squares respond to this fact and create several zones defined by trees and ground surfaces. They follow the concept of 'urban space through green space.' A portion of the existing above-ground parking area yields to this park landscape. The 'northern' new Mirabellplatz visually connects Andräkirche with Mirabell Palace. The southern Mirabellplatz becomes a public transportation hub, housing the new S-Link station as well as the stops for postal buses and trolleybuses. Within the ZOOM IN section, a part of the 1.2-kilometer park landscape will be described in more detail as an example. This pivotal point of the design functions like a joint in the park landscape. The focus here is on the area starting from Perronplatz and Kiesel Park, through 'the new rail promenade,' and up to Motzko and Imlauerplatz. The goal is to showcase the new and old qualities of the mentioned locations. Kiesel Park focuses on the space for residents.
kühlt das Umfeld
Perspective from Imlauer Square
In the southern area of Perronplatz is the mega zebra crossing. It is approximately 35 meters wide and allows cross-traffic without creating an atmospheric interruption in the park landscape. The idea is that when the pedestrian traffic light is green, people dominate the space, and the cars disappear from view. The square's surface extends across the crossing to maintain the flow dynamic towards the city. he overhang of the 'new rail promenade' extends over Perronplatz and, in combination with the Perron Tower, creates a gateway effect. The atmospheric effect of
the mega zebra crossing is depicted in the images below. Viewed from above, the Kiesel Park, designed to replace the gas station, is a wild forest with a large clearing at its center. This clearing serves as a central meeting place for the neighborhood. A large, free-form table encircles the clearing. In the center of this enclosure is the playground. Parents can keep an eye on their children from the table and engage with other neighborhood residents. The table should remain open for various uses, such as flea markets, chess games, private
gatherings, or other community activities.The Kiesel Park is designed with multiple layers. The bay forms the entrance situation. From here, the ground surfaces guide visitors around the clearing. Both paths pass by the existing row of shops and are interspersed with seating and lounging areas. The clearing is concealed behind the wild green areas. The table is the meeting place for neighborhood residents and, like the spatial situation at Südtirolerplatz, should be hidden on the 'second level.' At the same time, the playground provides space for children and adolescents.
The resident parking spaces are pushed below the Kiesel Park into the underground garage and are concealed by the green, much like the residents in their Kiesel Park. The construction of the S-LINK and the extension of the local railway offer a unique opportunity for the city of Salzburg. Through the covered construction method, the excavation of all surface areas, and
the relocation of numerous underground utilities, there is a chance to efficiently redesign Rainerstraße and optimize its aesthetic appearance. In this context, it is crucial to appropriately appreciate the historical urban development and harmoniously integrate it into the design. From the author's perspective, this redesign should embody a revival of historical qualities in a contemporary
form.'Contemporary' is understood as the sensitive consideration of the current challenges of our time, including urban heat issues, the need for urgent densification due to housing shortages, and the design of individual traffic. This work presents a potential solution for the existing situation and aims to contribute to the ongoing discussion and further planning process.