Teaching and Learning during and after “Corona times”

The Steelcase EMEA 360 ° team had an interview with Dipl.-Ing. Yulia Kartysh and Univ.Prof. Prof. h. c. Dipl.-Ing. Dietmar Wiegand (Managing Director – IPRE) from the Real Estate Development department at the Vienna University of Technology; how the corona crisis affected teaching and teaching facilities. The full interview is available in German here: Steelcase.com

Photo credit: ©Copyright Matthias Heisler

Building a brand. Do you want traffic or significant traffic?

In the past half year our team at IPRE created the website of smart-occupancy.org to buzz more talk around the term of ‘Smart Occupancy” and see what online channels, social media hashtags can bring more audience to our content. In the era of followers and likes and fight-for-more-attention, is hard to get some online contact establishments for important topics. For example, sustainability is a burning topic, there are books created about “Sustainability Marketing” and how to teach idea and sell sustainable products on the market but most of us still do not do anything about our future and how to handle well our present.

Smart Occupancy is the “smart term” of multiple uses of space or use optimization of unused spaces avoiding unsustainable architecture planning for the future and optimize existing, abandoned or not well-used spaces in the present or in the future. Share Economy, AirBnB, “event-location-Airbnb”, co-working & co-living spaces, and mostly: Real-Estate-as-a-Serice models are already part of our present and maybe waiting for you to be the next believer of the idea. In the world of global enterprises and the new rise of small, medium companies and startups there is a bigger need for flexible, affordable space than ever. Meanwhile reading this article, you can learn already about two things: gain ideas about searching for suitable places for your future company and see how to collect feedback or kick-off your science business on the easiest, budget-friendly way.

If you are still reading this article, probably you are interested in the topic. If you would like to gain some online reputation or simply build a “digital business card” (as I call these informative websites) for your good cause, follow the following steps:

  • Find an attractive name for your term
  • Explain easily, maybe with the help of videos, what is it about
  • Get your domain
  • Activate the most important Social Media Channels, or channels you would like to test for your company. You have to test which channels are the most significant for your goals.
  • Set Google Analytics, Search Engine Optimization tool for your website
  • Sign up for the Newsletter of neilpatel.com
  • Prepare your content redirecting it to your website
  • Prepare a posting plan for your content and be consequent with it (Do not forget to post for 3 weeks, and then complain about having no traffic!)
  • Do extensive hashtag and network research – who can be interested in your topic?
  • Post and observe the channel insights’ and Google Analytics’ results and get ready for possible adjustments
  • If you have enough test-material, feedback and content or the future to build your strategy, get Buffer (free up to 3 Social Media Channels)
  • Do not to be afraid of trying out different things on your channel: maybe your future audience is more positive about watching videos than reading Tweets or visa versa.

These points are the most important key findings of the “Online Brand Establishment for a scientific term” written by Dora Hably, within the IPRE initiative of Smart Occupancy. This thesis was a successful MBA diploma work at the MODUL University Vienna. Branding for or branding of science, and especially in the online field is a neglected research area, where researchers still have a way to experience or pave themselves. We would love to see your opinion or exchange some experiences in this field.  If you have any related content of branding for science, do not hesitate to contact us! If you are interested in the research, click here.


Smart Occupancy in the frame of project coordination

Smart occupancy or multiple use has enormous social benefits, and no one can say: this is not possible. Both facts have become clear from the cases of project coordination for multiple use.

It has also become clear, that local social and international profit-oriented companies have formed and fixed the issue of multiple use. They have understood that simultaneous side-by-side use and intelligent space use can generate more added value for the real estate owners, who may be willing to give up on rental income or to “rentees”, such as WeWork, who are willing to pay much more than the usual, average rents. The players of civil society and the private sector achieve equally positive economic and ecological effects as the project coordination of multiple use, smart occupancy. Savings on climate-relevant emissions are achieved by companies such as WeWork, for example through the intensification of the use of office buildings, to a completely different extent than the project coordination could ever have done. Despite WeWork and the trend towards sharing economy like car sharing, multiple use is still not a mass phenomenon.

The spatial separation of the functions demanded in the 1933 Charta of Athens evidently lives still clearly in the minds of planners and users. Building regulations, road traffic regulations, funding guidelines for housing construction, sectoral administrations and federal structures prevent or complicate socially useful multiple use enormously.

Who is taking care of political and cultural changes? Who organizes multiple use and why or for what kind of interest? The project coordination for multiple use of the City of Vienna as a state organization had a corresponding mandate for 20 years, not only concerning the municipal real estate.

The importance of traffic avoidance crossed the path of the Smart City initiatives. As early as 2014, the professorship for project development at the Vienna University of Technology pointed to the potential of co-working spaces in rural areas in traffic avoidance, preserving heritage and helping to develop model projects. As part of the expert conference on Smart City organized by the Institute of European Regions (IRE) in April in Salzburg, Benjamin Szemkus, project manager of Smart City Switzerland, reported on the project “Village Office”, where a network of the previously mentioned co-working spaces in rural areas reduced commuter traffic to the cities.

The Austrian real estate industry has the topic of multiple use under the term Smart Occupancy on the agenda. In collaboration with the Institute of Property Research (IPRE), it is actively working on business models that offer intelligent management and service of use in addition to real estate development.

The integration of conceptual aspects of smart multiple use of places as a smart occupancy would add another important factor to the Smart City Initiative – one that would promptly finance itself through efficiency gains, environmental, economic, social and cultural improvements.

The retirement of the project coordinator for multiple use should not lead to the abolition of the principles and the objectives. Some principles have indeed entered the standards, for example the school building guidelines, but it is desired and expected that now all municipal authorities and districts keep going on the development of intelligent multiple use. The Smart Occupancy initiative within the City of Vienna’s Smart City Initiative would provide a suitable framework for implementing this process with the municipalities, e.g. in a form of a round-table of Smart Occupancy. The goal should be for all relevant municipalities to identify what they can actively contribute to the promotion of smart multiple use and what barriers are dismantled in the form of laws, regulations and policies. This could be condensed and implemented into a Smart Occupancy Roadmap. Smart City would thus change from technology orientation to management orientation, which is urgently needed.

Researches show that intelligent multiple uses of public space must be realized across the boundaries of municipal authorities and in cooperation between city and districts. The mass application of intelligent multiple uses could be easily realized by cross-department administrations.

There is certainly potential for innovation in the development of suitable operational and mixed-use concepts for buildings and not well-used spaces. This must include the creation of suitable business ideas and new corporate and organizational forms. Therefore, these kind of development ideas or projects should be supported.

Last but not least, universities and other educational institutions also should think about if they can contribute to Smart Occupancy e.g. by offering new courses of the topic. The single focus on the hardware of the buildings must be supplemented at least by the integration of aspects of the use and operation of the buildings, which is demanded for long time by the IPRE in Vienna.

Smart Occupancy as part of Share Economy

The term “Share Economy” was established by Martin L. Weitzman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University. The result of his research showed that profit sharing between owners and employees leads to higher welfare under certain economic conditions.

Based on the fact, that e.g. electric drills are used on average only 20 minutes of their lifetime and office workplaces standing empty between 85 and 95 percent of their lifetime without use, the possession of objects loses its importance and is determined rather by different common consumption of sharing; which makes especially from ecological point of view. Share Economy is today a collective term for companies, business models, platforms, online and offline communities and practices that enable shared use of fully or partially unused resources. In the English-speaking world, the terms “Collaborative Consumption” and “Collaborative Economy” is also used. The French network OuiShare “[…] collaborative practices, shared governance, decentralization, smart cities […]”. The network considers the experimental and innovative practice of sharing, open and open knowledge, horizontal and open administrative structures as an opportunity to solve the challenges of our time.

Smart Occupancy for Smart Cities: interview with Prof. Dietmar Wiegand

Smart Occupancy for Smart Cities: Goals, effects, potential – interview by Dora Hably (DH) with Prof. Dietmar Wiegand (DW) who established the term of Smart Occupancy


DH: Smart Occupancy is a way of multiple, intelligent use of the built environment, what should we understand by that?

DW: To really understand what multiple use is, we cannot look at the space as something static, but more like a movie: something exists, and its shape is continuously changing in time how people are using it. Rooms are filled, abandoned; they are empty and will be used again. When we watch a film and we begin to replace our “images” of space with “movies” of space, we get another point of view. We see in these films how the use of space changes over time by different groups of people or they are just there standing empty, then we start to understand what multiple use is. What the project coordination of multiple use has done in the City of Vienna in the past 20 years or how WeWork changes office usage nowadays: they make multiple use of space happen.


DH: Are there any categories of multiple use?

DW: When the members of WeWork – yes, they are no longer rentees – spontaneously get an available hot desk in the lounge of the office building, this is an example of simultaneous side-by-side use of space. Drinking coffee with other co-workers at the lounge bar, exchange knowledge there etc. Mutual influences of the uses among each other must be accepted. The same applies, of course, to the fantastic Viennese examples of coworking spaces offered in the Impact Hub, in the Rochuspark, Stockwerk or in Packhaus, just to name a few.

The project lead of multiple use in the City of Vienna forced the openings and wider availability of the school spaces for external uses. This is predominantly the intelligent use of (open) spaces. The sports fields of the schools are empty after school in the afternoon, on weekends and during holidays. Why cannot children and grownups, locals use these areas during school-free, unused periods? Why should we build additional sports fields what are empty, when the existing ones can be used in a more intelligent, optimized way? Intelligent multiple use, Smart Occupancy support and increase the number of social actions and it is also sparing the residents’ taxes in the usual tight budgets.


DH: How can you find and identify potential for multiple use?

DW: The time factor helps us to differentiate the potentials of intensifying the use of space over time or the intelligent multiple use, which is important in different situations approaching the ownership, forming of contracts, the possible uses, and much more. The vacancy – unused time slots – is a few hours a day, a few days a week, a few weeks a year, and in total: up to a few years. For example, the Ginza Chuo Street – one of Tokyo’s main access roads – is open to pedestrians from April to September daily from 12:00 to 18:00 (October to March from 12:00 to 17:00) and on the weekends. Otherwise, the road is available for traffic – unfortunately, for this kind of use there is no existing legal regulation in Austria yet.

All-in-all, multiple uses are assigned to a location, while we are taking into consideration the factor of time. In order to succeed, we need ideas for Smart Occupancy, intelligent multiple use and ideas who and in which type of organisation can make them happen. The idea alone is not enough; of course, it also needs the necessary skills and abilities of the organization to implement the ideas also with the local, national authorities or the market.


DH: Why is multiple use or Smart Occupancy important to Smart Cities?

DW: The density of use should not be mistaken with the structural density. The structural density does not say anything about whether a city is “smart” or “unsmart” because it is not clear if and how intensively the built space will be used. The density of use should be one of the appropriate criteria for analysis of Smart Cities or in other words: the multiple use makes cities smart, easy to adapt very quickly and without any investments.


DH: And how does Smart Occupancy support also economic growth?

DW: Multiple use is important to cities like Vienna, where industrial branches cannot be found, to support creative people with affordable places. Creative people and creativity are finally defining again the development of cities, among others, like Vienna’s. The street artists and skaters of today are the founders of tomorrow. This is clear from the history of San Francisco and the Bay Area in the US. What was once Mecca of the hippies, today is the seat of countless successful technology and Internet companies. Nowadays Berlin writes the next chapter of history: for decades, industrial companies dominated the city, especially in the eastern part of the city, so these areas provided affordable studios, ateliers. Berlin was and partially is still mentioned for its wild and partly illegal parties. However, in turn, this influenced and attracted creative people from all over Europe. In 2015, € 2.1bn of venture capital flowed into Berlin’s start-ups – for the first time, more than in London, Paris or Stockholm.


DH: How can architecture support or intensify multiple use?

DW: There are two sides of the architecture of Smart Occupancy: the “bought” usability and interpretable architecture – the interpretable archetypes as Herman Hertzberger defined them. The full exploitation of the potential multiple use requires a user-centred understanding of architecture. Perhaps the most impressive example of technically advanced flexibility is the “Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy”. Designed by Michel Andrault, Pierre Parat, Jean Prouvé and Aydın Guvan, this pyramid-shaped futuristic building opened in 1984 and can accommodate around 30 possible configurations depending on the event, from 8,000 to 20,300 attendees. Sports events ranging from windsurfing and motocross to athletics are changing easily to concerts, music shows and circus events. The renovation and modernization in 2013-14 cost around 100 million Euros. Herman Hertzberger’s archetypes, such as stairs, pits or pedestals, allow multiple uses as they are! The staircase is suitable for running, sitting, playing, working, observing, etc. Observing what children do with spatial configurations and objects and for which they use them, opens the world of Hermann Hertzberger and the interpretable archetypes.

The Pop Up Kitchen

Smart occupancy solution of unused ground floor spaces in cities

A film by Sonya Kalcheva, Natalija Veskovic and Adrienn Holnthoner.

The ground floor zone is the most important space in the city. It is a living working and co-existing space that serves the attractiveness and comfort of the area. We can still see abandoned shops, garage entrances and storage areas. How many streets must lose their character until we do finally something about it? We stop it!

These vacancies offer the greatest potential for smart occupancy, multiple and successive uses and we must find the right way to liven up the abandoned shops and pubs in all sorts of neighborhoods. By organizing short events, it is possible to recycle the premises and to show people the potential variety of uses. The idea is to stop by at empty areas and then move on to the next possible station to fill the puzzles holes. In this way, we can revive the heart of the city piece by piece. And how do we do that? The answer is simple. With food!

The video presents a clever and simple solution by three students and how they got there, watch it now!

Smart Occupancy of the North Railway Hall in Vienna, Austria (Nordbahnhalle)

After the demolition of the historic station in 1965, the area of the former North Station was only used for goods handling. In the 1990s, the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) completely abandoned the site.  After all, only a rocky grass field remained with its unique charm.

Nowadays, the Nordbahnhalle can offer different functions for co-working workshops, meeting points, restaurants or well taken-care gardening boxes of the Integration Center, as well as several halls of various sizes.

From April to June 2018 organized total of 65 public events created plenty of variety. Apart from long-term exhibitions, a total of 45 days of 91 were successfully filled with events. Public authorities, associations, educational institutions, companies or private persons organized them.

The Nordbahnhalle has shown that in a living area of 20.000 people, there is a need for an event venue. At the moment, the existence of the site continues to be a mix of charitable and commercial uses.  It is an option that would be unthinkable without smart occupancy.

Interim uses are temporary uses of buildings, what were originally intended for other different long-term purposes. This video presents different uses of the Nordbahnhalle, to see, what kind of variety of events are taking place; who is organizing for whom and how the rooms can be used.