map all points within the city from where the planned high-rise structures would be visible at an eye level of 1.6m.
The presented VIS visualisations illustrate that the height reduction for the two tallest structures at the main entrance to the Vienna Main Railway Station, from 100m to 88m, proposed by the State Party to the Committee last year, will lead, in the opinion of the State Party, to the southern rear section of the Belvedere complex being minimally visually impaired. Contending, that this part of the property has a subordinate role, the State Party considers that the current status of the railway station project does not impact adversely on the Outstanding Universal Value, authenticity and integrity of the property.
The State Party recognises that, even after reducing the planned building height from 120m to 73m, the study indicates that the Kometgründe project will create an alien element in its urban context, and notes that the project is located at a point in the cityscape less suited for high-rise buildings. The visualisations show that the visual impairments of the “Schönbrunn Palace“ property on its primary north-south axis are relatively slight, and concludes that the Outstanding Universal Value authenticity and integrity are not principally and substantially jeopardised, but the State Party also recognises that the west to east axis of the Schönbrunn property would be directly affected. It also notes that, since the Vienna City Council had already issued its approval for the Kometgründe project, this legal obligation will only become null and void if the project has not been implemented by autumn 2013.
The State Party indicates that, due to the tight time schedule imposed for the submission of the Visual Impact Study, and the significant technical input involved, it was not possible to develop visualisations of all points of view requested by ICOMOS.
The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS consider that it is unfortunate that the visual impact of the Kometgründe project on the west to east and diagonal garden axis of the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn property is only minimally considered and represented in the VIS.
Whilst giving the impression that the VIS fulfils the requirements of the Committee’s decision, the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS consider that several aspects and angles should have been further examined. Specifically, the views of Vienna by night with illuminated high- rise buildings have not been given any weight, and the views in winter were not sufficiently considered.
In addition, the VIS does not dwell on any aspect that would create a negative view of the two identified projects and omits placing any emphasis on an awareness that both Schönbrunn and Belvedere Castle relate to the Vienna City Centre. The VIS study considers only 1.60m high pedestrian viewpoints and all higher-level vantage points from across the city have been overlooked. If these had been taken into account, a different, negative perspective that could show an adverse impact on Outstanding Universal Value, authenticity and visual integrity of the World Heritage property might emerge. Furthermore, other important viewpoints have not been identified or considered. It is understood that a number of new high-rise projects that could affect the property have already received building permission and these have not been mentioned in the VIS study, nor was the World Heritage Centre informed about these developments in accordance with §172 of the Operational Guidelines. These buildings include the 80m high Raiffeisenhaus, the 8-9 storey Fiat Property and Marillenalm in Vienna-Meidling and the three proposed 110m high buildings in the Monte Laa area in Vienna Favoriten.
As required by Decision 33 COM 7B.89, the State Party also submitted a brief state of conservation report, dated 23 March 2010. This confirmed that the existing railway station buildings were being demolished; successful negotiations regarding building height reductions; no decisions regarding buildings had yet been taken; and that high-rise buildings in the project had been subjected to the VIS. The report also notes that several buildings have been recently demolished and, following architectural competitions, fill-in buildings have been constructed, or were about to be realized. In addition, the report indicates that several projects to add floors on top of historic buildings had been completed, or were under way,
State of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List
WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, p. 131