Building sustainable cities instead of saving failed banks

When Austria’s Finance Minister declared last December that the rescue of failed Austrian Hypo bank might cost Austrian taxpayers up to EUR 19 bn, it was difficult for many people to comprehend this huge figure. So, a transdisciplinary team of students of Vienna’s University of Technology recently launched a project called “Milliardenstadt” (“Billions-City”) to answer the question what city could be built with this sum.


The result was a model city called “Hypotopia” for 102,574 inhabitants, making it the sixth-largest Austrian city. Hypotopia consists of 1,260 different objects of which most are residential buildings that foster mixed-use with retail/industrial/office/health uses in ground floor spaces. Other buildings include nursing homes, kindergartens and childcare centers, schools and a university, hotels and hostels, libraries and a learning center as well as sports, recreation, cultural and religious facilites.

Infrastructure includes a hydropower plant (EUR 325 m), wind turbines (EUR 152 m), a football stadium (EUR 117 m), a zoo (EUR 13 m), a modern art museum (EUR 4 m), a railway station (EUR 55 m), a waste incineration plant (EUR 280 m), a district heating/cooling accumulation tower (EUR 240 m) and a wastewater treatment plant (EUR 60 m). Traffic infrastructure amounts to EUR 2.15 bn and includes 9 bridges (1 railway bridge, 4 tram bridges and 4 pedestrian/cycling bridges) as well as 2 tram lines and 2 aquabus lines.

While this city will never be built, it is an impressive effort to show citizens how we could theoretically build sustainable cities instead of saving failed banks. And it shows us how a city without cars and powered by 100% renewable energy could look like. So, it’s definitely worth exploring the interactive 3D model of this utopian city and to watch the German trailer:

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