How far do we think? The team of visionary advisors

Assisting the bid committee on key issues is a team of visionary thinkers who, as key trendsetters and planners, contribute their knowledge and ideas for the future to the process in a structured way. 

This team of visionaries includes architects Ernst J. Fuchs (the next ENTERprise); the is responsible for the areas of architecture and urban development. Musician, artist, graphic designer and DJ Andreas Fränzl is taking on the area of “the independent scene and local residents’ projects”. Helene Steiner, expert in future research, artificial intelligence, digitalisation, biotechnology and design is in charge of the area of “future and artificial intelligence”. Qualified social scientist Esra Küçük, member of the executive board of the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin and director of the Gorki Forum, will, from April onwards, be dealing with issues of social change, diversity and social and cultural mediation. The team of visionary advisors works as much collectively as it does bilaterally in dialogue with the bidding office, and is intended to be an “open lab”. The inclusion of other exciting and visionary figures is in the pipeline.

Helene Steiner

is a designer and engineer focussed on the interface between design, technology and natural sciences.

“The most important thing: as initiatives by local people and the city demonstrate, the critical mass is available, and it shows the will and interest to embrace the future!”

Helene Steiner

The bid to become Capital of Culture is a unique opportunity to share our rich culture and points of view with Europe. The real potential, however, lies in the process itself: it offers the chance to reflect together on our culture, and to define and develop it further. St. Pölten has an abundance of historical and current-day assets, as well as innovative training facilities, nature on our doorstep, and citizens with a strong sense of sustainability and authenticity. That, in my view, is a unique and very healthy mixture. Our efforts should focus on improving how we communicate the city’s cultural riches not only externally but also internally, thus building more efficient networks. For me, connection is key: past, present and future should be directly linked with one another.

The bid is a unique chance for the municipal administration and the people to make the city fit for the future. But the bid also sets in motion a chain of thought: What makes St. Pölten fit for the future? How will the future change the local culture, communal life, and society? Perhaps, instead of discussing how new technology changes the city, we should ask how we can influence technologies and thus influence the development of the city. Technology is a part of human culture, an expression of the times, and a type of cultural tool that should be used particularly in a smaller city and should serve the needs of its inhabitants – not the other way round. The size of our city is an advantage here: St. Pölten can function as a sandpit for testing ideas locally and sounding out their potential. The city can lead by example and at the same time boost the local economy. In order to integrate new technologies into a city, a basis must be created. Sustainability and long-term thinking are important in order to create a strong foundation for the next generation.

In the long term, I see in St. Pölten great technological potential as far as communication, knowledge, democracy and mobility are concerned.

Andreas Fränzl

is a singer, DJ, curator, graphic designer, visual artist and culture worker. 

The very bidding process offers the unique chance to raise awareness of how diverse the concept of culture is, and how important culture is for our coexistence and shared future.”

Andreas Fränzl © Sebastian Wegerbauer

Making Austria’s newest regional capital city – or in fact its inhabitants – into European Capital of Culture is no small task, admittedly.

But it is feasible and achievable. Anyone who has even briefly looked at the development of this city knows that in recent years progress has been made, and St. Pölten has picked up speed. There is a new dynamism in the development of the city centre with young business people, initiatives and associations for a greener, more urban, culturally rich city; and there are new facilities like the Büro für Diversität, which makes available space and skills for socially marginalised groups. Collaborative bottom-up projects such as Sonnenpark and LAMES have proved their staying power and are now on firm ground for the next creative expansion phase.

Nor should we forget the surrounding area, the whole region, in which many new, forward-looking aspects have emerged. So now is clearly a good moment to keep forming and growing in the European spirit, to rise above and beyond together! We can build on the pioneering work (of the Freie Szene platform, etc.) over several generations. Many individual forces which have out-migrated can be re-mobilised when there is a great visionary goal, when (thought) spaces are opened up far beyond political and economic borders.

With the energy of a highly motivated population, educational institutions, students, and all of the positive external forces, we can produce something quite special, something that endures and changes society in a lasting, positive way!

the next ENTERprise

Founded in 2000 by Marie-Therese Harnoncourt and Ernst J. Fuchs, THE NEXT ENTERPRISE is an inter-disciplinary office for city development and architecture. 

“We are working on discovering anything that goes beyond the purely functional, for this is the essence of a vibrant city as we imagine it.”

 Ernst Fuchs & Marie-Therese Harnoncourt (tnE)

What is your starting point and overall approach in developing a vision for the Capital of Culture St. Pölten 2024?

We start out from the vision of a city without boundaries. This vision departs from mechanical thinking, which mostly looks for technical answers, and takes as a basis the holistic thinking of humanities, natural sciences, and art. Cities have the potential to be social pioneers.

What are the challenges?

Overcoming habits, which people cling to. That is why the method of experiment is an important testing ground, immersing yourself in alternative ways of thinking and opening up new perspectives.

“Reset your consciousness: no salt for a month; then you notice when there is salt and whether you need it.” (the poor boy’s ENTERprise)

What are the objectives?

The goal is to develop a strategy for “the shared city” of the 21st century, which is multicultural, accessible, and permeable for “playful”, mobile people of the future.

The European Year of Culture 2024 is a festival of inspiration, a “year of changing perspectives”.

What is already in place that one can link up with?

The objective is connecting up with what is already there. St. Pölten is an evolved city with a history of development that goes back to the Stone Age. This cultural potential is key for the city vision of eliminating borders and boundaries.

The thought process – starting without knowing what it is – generates new spheres of life.

19 March 2018

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