History of the Gasometers
In 1892, an international competition was announced for new city gasworks in Vienna. An engineer from Berlin (Germany) called Schimming won the competition, and in 1896 Theodor Herrmann, a technical consultant in gas engineering was appointed. The construction started on 27th October 1896. The city engineer’s department along with Franz Kapaun undertook management of the construction. The construction of the four gasometers was accomplished by July 17th 1899, and opened on 31st October 1899.
When they were built, the gasometers were the largest in Europe. They remained in service until 1986. In 1981, they had been listed by the country’s heritage ministry as outstanding examples of industrial architecture.
When Vienna converted its gas supply to natural gas between 1970 and 1978, the gasometers became obsolete and the technical equipment of the gas tanks was consequently dismantled.
The location of the project presented a special opportunity to develop the urban fabric of Vienna by means of various alterations of the transportation system, such as the extension of the U3 subway and the construction of the North-East Highway.
When, in 1995 it was decided to utilize these structures for residential purposes, four planners brought forward their proposals in conjunction with renowned architects. While Jean Nouvel, Manfred Wehdorn and Wilhelm Holzbauer took different approaches to the project, the architects Coop Himmelb(l)au proposed a second building to the existing one in order to make its function visible from the exterior.
The project comprises about 620 apartments, offices and shops.
What remained was the outer skin of 90,000 cubic meters monumental brick cylinders that are now under protection as monuments of history and for their classical design.