G or gasholders--huge storage containers for the gas used in heating and cooking--were built in many cities during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, when gas was a commercial byproduct of coal mining, steelmaking, and other industrial processes.
Today, many of the old gasometers have been replaced by pipelines and tank farms, but a few are being adapted to new uses. Among the latter are four 102-year-old gasholders in the Vienna's Simmering district, which have been reborn as a residential and commercial development named "."
"G-town," as the locals call it, includes:
Most of the new complex is built inside the old gasholders, which--unlike modern storage tanks--were designed to complement the cityscape with their brick walls, arched windows, and white plaster trim.
From gas plant to multiuse project
G-town's gasometers date back to 1896, when Viennese authorities decided it was time to invest in large-scale gas and electric utilities. In just three years, the city built Europe's largest gas plant (which included the four gasometers) and laid more than 300 miles or 500 km of gas lines.
Over time, natural gas replaced coal gas, and the gasometers were no longer needed. The gas plant was shut down in the mid-1980s. The buildings stood empty, except for techno concerts and an inline skating event, until the city announced a competition for redevelopment proposals in 1996.
Architects Jean Nouvel, Manfred Wehdom, Wilhelm Holzbauer, and the Team Coop Himmelb(l)au won the competition with their multiuse proposal, and construction was soon underway. G-town opened for business on August 31, 2001, drawing an estimated 100,000 visitors.
The development is open to the public, but to get the most out of your visit, you may want to consider a guided tour. (Fees vary; see Wiener-Gasometer's guided tours page for details.)
How to get there
Ride the U3 line to the Gasometer station. (The trip takes about eight minutes from Stephansplatz in the city center.)
Take the A23 (Süd-Ost Tangente) to the St. Marx exit. Head for the 1,200-space garage.
Related Web links
Photos provided by by www.gasometer-wien.at. Copyright © Peter Korrak.
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