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Vienna‘s Urban Waterscape 1683-1918. An environmental history.

Project Leader
Haidvogl Gertrud, Project Leader
Type of Research
Basic Research
Project partners
Alpen Adria University Klagenfurt, IFF Vienna, Institute of Social Ecoloy, Centre for Envrionmental History, Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070 Wien, Austria.
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Technische Universität Wien, Institut für Städtebau, Landschaftsarchitektur und Entwerfen, Karlsplatz 13, 1040 Wien, Austria.
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Hohensinner Severin, Project Staff
BOKU Research Units
Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management (IHG)
Funded by
Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF) , Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria
The interdisciplinary project URBWATER investigates fundamental changes of Vienna’s waterscape from 1683-1918 and analyzes the influence of the dynamic aquatic environment for Vienna’s urban development. While the Danube and the adjacent riparian area have been reconstructed back to 1529 in the precursor project ENVIEDAN, the environmental history of its tributary system remains largely unknown.
We have developed three hypotheses. (1) Different natural conditions of the urban waterscape resulted in distinct spatial adaptations of water uses. (2) The system of tributaries, hitherto almost totally neglected by historians of Vienna, played a pivotal role for city development. (3) Urban development was fundamentally influenced by both contemporary and older arrangements of water use which were often resistant to human intervention. We also assume that fundamental changes progressed in multiple steps and likely happened in a non-linear way.
To test our hypotheses, we will study how changes in Vienna’s waterscape, particularly in the urban and peri-urban area west of the Danube, affected urban water use. We shall investigate modifications of resource demand and extraction technology which translated into different uses of the waterscape and affected it during the city’s transformation from a 17th century pre-modern fortified seat of the imperial court to the early 20th century industrialized capital of a by then much smaller territory. Simultaneously, Vienna’s population increased from less than 200.000 to about 2 Mio. inhabitants. To prove our assumptions, we shall study the long-term evolution of natural and social phenomena and the multiple feedback loops, unintended long-term consequences and legacies of prior uses. The study period starts with the Ottoman siege in 1683 and follows developments throughout the most dynamic phase of urban growth between 1850 and 1918.
Understanding why and how a network of watercourses used in multiple ways was transformed into a predominantly subterranean set of channelled and vaulted flows is crucial to an understanding of urban spatial development and of the fundamentally changed interaction of urban actors with a dynamic, natural system.
A unique, regressive-iterative approach to reconstructing historical landscapes using geographical information systems (GIS) has been developed in ENVIEDAN and will be applied and further refined.
URBWATER is organized into 5 work-packages (WP). All work-packages are based on the concept of socio-natural sites as nexus between practices and arrangements and the conceptual interaction model developed in ENVIEDAN. Interdisciplinary co-operation is ensured by three means, via joint use of sources, shared concepts and a designed communication process.
URBWATER will yield a time series of GIS-based maps of the urban waterscape. They are based on the detailed reconstruction of hydromorphological evolution and on a spatially explicit reconstruction of the built environment. Results will be published in high-ranking journals and a synthetic book.
Flood control; Long-term ecological research; urban design; science of history;
River-society interaction; Urban waters; Environmental history; Viennese waterscape;

Hohensinner, S (2020): Der Donau auf der Spur. Katalog zur gleichnamigen Ausstellung in der Schallaburg 2020.

In: Schallaburg Kulturbetriebsges.m.b.H., Donau – Menschen, Schätze & Kulturen. Eine Reise vom Schwarzen Meer zur Schallaburg, 21-27

Winiwarter, V; Hohensinner, S; Dressel, G; Gierlinger, S; Haidvogl, G; Hauer, F; Pollack, G; Sonnlechner, C; Spitzbart-Glasl, C; Tanzer, J (2017): Wien und seine Gewässer: Nutzung, Turbulenz und Risiko in langfristiger Perspektive.

In: Engels, JI; Janich, N; Monstadt, J; Schott, D, Nachhaltige Stadtentwicklung. Infrastrukturen, Akteure, Diskurse. 22, 98-123; Campus Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, New York; ISBN 978-3-593-50651-7 FullText

* Hauer, F; Hohensinner, S (2016): Wasser, Garten, Stadtfragment - Entstehung und Metamorphose des Erdberger Maises.

Wiener Geschichtsblätter, 71 (2), 77-93; ISSN 0043-5317 FullText

* Hauer, F; Hohensinner, S; Spitzbart-Glasl, C (2016): How water and its use shaped the spatial development of Vienna.

Water History, 8, 301-328; ISSN 1877-7236 FullText FullText_BOKU

* Hohensinner, S; Jungwirth, M (2016): Die unbekannte dritte Dimension: Geländehöhen, Gewässertiefen und Dynamik österreichischer Donaulandschaften vor der Regulierung.

Österreichische Wasser- und Abfallwirtschaft, 68 (7-8), 324-341; ISSN 0945-358X FullText FullText_BOKU

* Winiwarter, V; Haidvogl, G; Hohensinner, S; Hauer, F; Bürkner, M (2016): The long-term evolution of urban waters and their nineteenth century transformation in European cities - A comparative environmental history.

Water History, 8, 209-233; ISSN 1877-7236 FullText FullText_BOKU

Hohensinner, S (2016): GIS-based reconstruction of Vienna’s historical landscape since the 16th century.
[21st Conference on Cultural Heritage and New Technologies - Urban Archaeology and Data, Vienna, AUSTRIA, NOV 16-18, 2016]

In: Stadtarchäologie Wien (Ed.), CHNT 21 - Abstracts Volume

Hohensinner, S (2016): Immer höher - die Wiener Hochwasser-Risikospirale (Higher and higher - the Viennese flood risk spiral).
[Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Limnologie und der SIL Austria, Vienna, AUSTRIA, SEPT 26-30, 2016]

In: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Limnologie & Institut für Hydrobiologie und Gewässermanagement, Limnologie der Zukunft - Zukunft der Limnologie, S. 126

Hohensinner, S; Schmid, M (2016): The more dikes, the higher the floods: Vienna and its Danube floods.

In: Tamáska, M; Szabó, C (Eds.), Donau-Stadt-Landschaften. Danube-City-Landscapes. Budapest-Vienna. Historical Geography 3, 211-227; LIT Verlag, Berlin-Münster; ISBN 978-3-643-90767-7 FullText

Hohensinner, S (2015): Historische Hochwässer der Wiener Donau und ihrer Zubringer.

Materialien zur Umweltgeschichte Österreichs, Band 1, 59, Zentrum für Umweltgeschichte (Centre for Environmental History Vienna), Vienna, AUSTRIA; ISBN: 2414-0643 FullText

Hohensinner, S (2015): Bibliografie historischer Karten und Literatur zu österreichischen Flusslandschaften.

Materialien zur Umweltgeschichte Österreichs, Band 3, 421, Zentrum für Umweltgeschichte (Centre for Environmental History Vienna), Vienna, AUSTRIA; ISBN: 2414-0643 FullText

Hohensinner, S; Hahmann, A (2015): Historische Wasserbauten an der Wiener Donau und ihren Zubringern.

Materialien zur Umweltgeschichte Österreichs, Band 2, 351, Zentrum für Umweltgeschichte (Centre for Environmental History Vienna), Vienna, AUSTRIA; ISBN: 2414-0643 FullText

Hohensinner, S (2015): Historical patterns along the Danube's course.

Danube Watch, 2/2015, 6-8 FullText

* Winiwarter, V; Sonnlechner, C; Gierlinger, S; Haidvogl, G; Hauer, F; Hohensinner, S; Pollack, G; Spitzbart-Glasl, C (2015): Wien und seine Gewässer - Eine turbulente Umweltgeschichte.

Wiener Geschichtsblätter, 2/2015, 1-23; ISSN 0043-5317

Hohensinner, S; Drescher, A; Eckmüllner, O; Egger, G; Gierlinger, S; Hager, H; Haidvogl, G (2015): Wood resources in dynamic Danube floodplains – historical reconstruction and implications for management and restoration (Les ressources de bois dans les plaines d’inondations du Danube : reconstitution historique et implications pour la gestion et la restauration) .
[2nd I.S. Rivers Conference, Lyon, FRANCE, JUNE, 22-26, 2015]

In: GRAIE - Secrétariat d'I.S.Rivers (Ed.), Integrative sciences and sustainable development of rivers - Programme and abstracts, Villeurbanne, France

Hohensinner, S; Lager, B; Reichstein, J; Streitberger, A; Tanzer, J; Schuller, V; Hahmann, A; Winiwarter, V (2015): Historische Landschaftsentwicklung in Wien seit dem Jahr 1529 (Evolution of Vienna's land and waterscape since 1529 CE) .

Wien Kulturgut - Digital City Maps of Vienna FullText

Kiss, A; Blöschl, G; Hohensinner, S; Perdigao, R (2014): Analysis of large Danube flood events at Vienna since 1700. [Poster]
[European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Wien, 27.04.2014 - 02.05.2014]

In: EGU, Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 16, EGU2014-10703


Hohensinner, S; Hauer, F (2019): Acceleration despite stagnation: Vienna's interrupted urban growth since 1800 CE.

3rd World Congress of Environmental History - Convergences: The Global South and the Global North in the Era of Great Acceleration , JULY 22-27, 2019, Florianopolis, BRASIL

Hohensinner, S; Reichstein, J (2018): Wienfluss 1683-2010 - Flussmorphologische Rekonstruktion im Rahmen des FWF-Projekts Urbwater. [Poster]

Angewandte hydrogeologische Forschung - Stadtgebiet Wien, NOV 20, 2018, Vienna, AUSTRIA FullText

Hohensinner, S (2017): Vienna's flood risk spiral since the 18th century.

Vienna: River Works and Flood Risk Management into the Big City, Opening seminar of the CEEPUS project , JUNE 21, 2017, Vienna, AUSTRIA

Hohensinner, S; Hauer, F (2017): Vienna’s vanishing streams: Urban expansion and transformation of the waterscape 1683–2010 .

ESEH Biennial Conference 2017: Natures in between. Environments in areas of contact among states, economic systems, cultures and religions , JUNE 28 - JULY 2, Zagreb, CROATIA

Hohensinner, S; Stritzinger, W (2017): The “FLOODLEARN Project” - Learning for flood protection from torrential urban rivers.

Meeting of the European Network of River-Museums 2017, SEPT 4-6, 2017, Vienna, AUSTRIA

Winiwarter, V; Haidvogl, G; Hohensinner, S; Spitzbart-Glasl, C, Reichstein, J (2017): Trapped in a spiral of risk? The case for re-allowing floods in the Danube basins’ floodplains..

Conference of the American Society for Environmental History 2017 (ASEH), MAR 29 - APR 2, 2017, Chicago, USA

Hauer, F; Hohensinner, S (2016): Urbanizing Vienna's Waters: Colonizing the floodplains 17th century to present.

Reinterpreting Cities - 13th International Conference on Urban History, AUG 24-17, 2016, Helsinki, FINLAND

Hohensinner, S (2016): Wasser Stadt Wien. Metropole im Wandel.

Finissage mit Visionen, FEB 25, 2016, Wiener Stadt- u. Landesarchiv, Vienna, AUSTRIA

Haidvogl, G; Hohensinner, S (2015): Viennese Danube tributaries revisited.

Vienna's Urban Waterscape 1683-1918 - An environmental history, APRIL 16-18, 2015 , Vienna University of Technology, AUSTRIA

Hauer, F; Hohensinner, S; Spitzbart-Glasl, C (2015): How water and its use shaped the spatial development of Vienna.

Vienna's Urban Waterscape 1683-1918 - An environmental history, APRIL 16-18, 2015 , Vienna University of Technology

Hohensinner, S (2015): Mehr Dämme – höhere Fluten: Wien und die Donauhochwässer .

Donau – Stadt – Landschaften II, JAN 23-24, 2015, Budapest, HUNGARY

Hohensinner, S (2015): Learning from past Danube dynamics: hydromorphology, river training and flood conveyance.

Symposium on Regional Floods - Effects of Changes in the River System, OCT 13-14, 2015, Vienna, AUSTRIA

Hohensinner, S; Drescher, A; Eckmüllner, O; Egger, G; Gierlinger, S; Hager, H; Haidvogl, G. (2015): Modelling Vienna’s historical wood resources and wood demand.

"Greening History", 8th Conference of the European Societey for Environmental History, JUNE 30 - JULY 3, 2015, Versailles, FRANCE

Hohensinner, S; Haidvogl, G (2015): Role of groundwater and wells for Vienna‘s water supply.

Vienna's Urban Waterscape 1683-1918 - An environmental history, APRIL 16-18, 2015 , Vienna University of Technology, AUSTRIA

Jungwirth, M; Hohensinner, S (2015): Gewässerökologische Betrachtungen zur Entwicklung der Flusslandschaft.

Flussbausymposium Donau. Wasserbau östlich Wien - wie geht es weiter? Im Spannungsfeld der Interessen von Naturschutz, Schifffahrt und Hochwasserschutz, JUNE 19, 2015, Vienna, AUSTRIA

Winiwarter, V; Hohensinner, S (2015): Wien und seine Gewässer: Nutzen, Turbulenzen und Risiko in langfristiger Perspektive.

Abschlusstagung des DFG-Projektverbunds "Wege zur nachhaltigen Entwicklung von Städten", JUNE 18, 2015, Darmstadt, GERMANY

Hauer, F; Spitzbart, C; Hohensinner, S (2014): How water and its use shaped Vienna´s spatial development.

Comparing Urban Rivers - International Workshop, OCT 16-17, 2014, Vienna, AUSTRIA

Hohensinner, S (2014): Too far or too close from the city? The Viennese Danube since 1500 CE.

Annual Conference of the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH), MARCH 12-16, 2014, San Francisco, USA

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