Sep 23, 2022–Jan 27, 2023

Metabolism of the City

Herbert-Bayer-Platz 1, 04020 Linz Map
Wed–Sat 2–5 pm, Fri 2 pm - 8 pm

Space is getting tight under the asphalt. A look at the line plans shows how cramped the substructure of a city really is. District heating nestles against the sewage canal, with electricity, telephone and internet cables crossing in between. Water and gas pipes jostle through the remaining space.

On the surface, you hardly notice any of this. Only inconspicuous interfaces that have receded into the background of everyday life, such as power distribution boxes and manhole covers, mark the transition between the upper and lower worlds. They quietly remind us that there is something down there that concerns us at all. It affects us so much that it is systemically relevant: Without the machinery that provides the elementary framework for urban life in the background, neither the flushing of the 180,000 toilets in Linz nor the garbage disposal would work.

The infrastructure working in the background is taken for granted. A look into the substructure of the city can only be thrown when excavation work tears a wound in the surface of urban life. We lack an understanding of the extent of this infrastructure and how intertwined it is with the surrounding area.

An example: The waste water from Linz, 39 surrounding communities and 10 industrial dischargers is flushed through the 585 km long sewer network of Linz AG, which is dimensioned for 950,000 inhabitants, to the Linz-Asten sewage treatment plant and from there into the lower reaches of the Danube. Some main collectors are big enough to fit a truck.

Under these parameters, the afo uncovers the traces of the urban metabolism of the Linz organism in autumn.

We investigate the influence of this metabolism and its infrastructure on its environment, what a growing urban region means for the necessary structures, what relationship this brings between urban and rural areas and what dependencies arise as a result.

The afo is transformed into a miniature representation of the Linz organism and allows the visitor to explore its parts above and below ground. We follow its tracks above and below the surface on excursions to important metabolic hubs and interfaces, such as the high-level reservoir at Froschberg.

Curator: Alexander Gogl is a research associate at the Institute for Design at the University of Innsbruck and deals with territorial issues of urban metabolism.