Public Works: Hanging Out in Public Hammocks
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Public Works: Hanging Out in Public Hammocks

Vienna's travelling hammock house lets visitors kick back, relax, and drink in the urban landscape.

Public Works looks at public space, urban design, and city-building innovations from around the world, and considers what Toronto might learn from them.

Photo courtesy of heri&salli.

Photo courtesy of heri & salli.

Say you’re in Vienna. You’ve been schlepping yourself around all day, you’re tired, and you’re just a little too far from your hotel. Take heed, weary traveller: you can rest up at Flederhaus, five storeys’ worth of publicly accessible hammocks. It’s a veritable hammock district, all in one building. Even its name suggests a suspended respite: “Flederhaus” is a play on fledermaus, the German word for bat. (Though you fans of Viennese operettas knew that already).

The hammock hut was first opened in 2011 on the lawn of Vienna’s Museumsquartier, a complex of museums, cafes, and creative public space designs. In 2012, the structure moved to Flugfeld Aspern, a rapidly growing area in the city’s northeast end, where it doubles as an information centre for Aspern’s local community development project. Flederhaus’s creators, Viennese architecture firm heri & salli, are currently scoping out potential destinations for another move next year.

So could Toronto get a hammock house of its own? We did briefly have a public snoozing space last year when a sleeping pod hotel popped up at Bay and Wellington streets. That was just a marketing stunt by a nasal strips manufacturer—but there is a case to be made for streetside resting space.

Brent Toderian, an urban design consultant and former chief of Vancouver city planning, is helping to popularize the concept of “sticky streets”—city spaces that make people want to stop, linger, and enjoy their surroundings. Flederhaus gives passersby the opportunity to do just that—as heri & salli write on their website, the project is “a public space with additional value.”

CORRECTION: September 23, 2014, 9:50 AM: This post originally stated that Flughafen Aspern was in the city’s northwest end. It’s actually in the northeast.