With the Viennese public baths, crucial facilities of “social infrastructure” have been created which continue to attract people from different worlds and classes – in other words, they provide social sustainability. This interactive event has been conceptualized in the framework of the “Future Lectures“, a series of events organized by the BMNT, carried out by the FORUM Umweltbildung in cooperation with the University of Applied Arts Vienna.
Wir gehen alle baden at Vienna‘s Amalienbad was based on the idea that sustainability can only be achieved by maintaining and developing social infrastructures of everyday life.
It draws on the research on social infrastructure by Eric Klinenberg, the concept of “Alltagsökonomie” by Andreas Novy, Richard Bärnthaler, and Basil Stadelmann as well as the historic research on bathing and swimming culture by Renate Vergeiner and Ernst Gerhard Eder. Social infrastructures are not limited to water, gas, electricity, or public transport. They also include communal spaces of encounter and exchange like theatres, festivals, exhibitions, cinemas, or public baths. Communal infrastructures undetectably act as both material and immaterial resources for our well-being. Through the joint use of these resources, social and cultural surplus is created day by day.
By being easily accessible, used, and needed by a broad variety of people, communal infrastructures facilitate low-threshold encounters and exchange – and thus promote common goods. "Amalienbad” with its landmark architecture has been built by the City of Vienna as a public bath more than 100 years ago.
Within the framework of the "Future Lectures" series, the Social Design Studio uncovered the socially sustainable effects of that institution along with formats that reached out to its diverse visitors during the usual opening hours. An audio-feature – aired on wireless headphones – gathered voices of bathers, sauna guests, lifeguards, swimming clubs, scholars, and managers of Vienna’s public baths along with topics like health, hygiene, social mixing, relaxation, empowerment, and inclusion.
Bath towels were printed with quotations from the conversations (for example "we are swimming in drinking water" or "when the clothes are gone, there are only people") and spread for free use. Synchronized swimmers from Schwimm-Union-Wien surprised with show acts, a time-lapse video documented the diverse uses of Amalienbad in the course of a week and the bath’s restaurant served homemade fries.
The social sustainability of the impressive indoor pool was unveiled as a sometimes underestimated, yet complex and productive resource, a strong effect on social cohesion which, in a neoliberal equation, is hardly taken into account.
- 10. Favoriten
- Wir gehen alle baden is a project by Martin Färber
- Fabian Ritzi
- Amelie Schlemmer
- Alberta Sinani
- Herwig Turk within the Social Design Studio. Special thanks to all the other students who have supported the organization of the event and have supported during the event.