Arsenal survey – Your opinion matters

The Future is the best time to plan. Hypothetically, if I were to, maybe, perchance, ask you what your opinions might potentially be, would you give me an answer?

Let me elaborate: The physics faculty at the University of Vienna (Uni Wien) might be facing a move in the next decade. While nothing is set in stone, we want to be proactive and gather your thoughts and concerns to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone involved. In the following I will tell you what we know or suspect.

The Status Quo:

The current faculty is growing too big. You probably noticed that if all students study at the faculty, it gets more than crowded. Some of your courses are maybe in Sensengasse, Währingerstrasse or Kolingasse. It’s not the case that we don’t fit — I mean right now it works not too bad, right — but that this also means that there is little room for expansion. The current construction going on is just a jug of water in an ocean. As we as students understand it, the coming spaces, offices, and rooms already have dedicated purposes and the building is not even self-standing. Also, some labs suffer from the constraints of the space and maybe cool science we, and future generations of students, could do is hindered by it.

The Proposal(s):

The TU Wien’s old building is crumbling, and therefore they need to move sooner rather than later. Since they already have some buildings at the Arsenal, it is quite a logical step to seek to move there. This would concentrate sciences there, as the Vienna Biolab is also in the area and some corporations and datacenters also have, or plan to, set up shop there. To enlarge this science cluster, our university is also considering the move of the physics faculty to this location. The timescale for this is in around a decade. While the plans are anything but concrete, we physicists would probably like to find some bounds of the problem and some first ideas — so let’s do that:

  • Separate Departments: The TU and Uni Vienna will remain separate Entities in different buildings. That is quite assured from both universities. They might however share some facilities to make use of the new proximity. What facilities that might entail is not clear.
  • Goodbye Friends: The way this would work with the adjacent institutes is not clear. For example, right next to us is the ESI (Erwin Schrödinger International Institute for Mathematical Physics) and also the Chemistry, Astronomy, and Maths faculties are only a few paces away, which is great for collaboration and also helps with diversification of your studies. We deem it unlikely that they will also move, creating a special challenge for our esteemed Astro students who now take a lot of courses at the physics department. Probably not an insurmountable challenge, but a change for sure. Maybe the quantum groups (who might move to the Campus at AAKH) and the groups now located at the Sternwarte would also remain due to the elaborate lab setups. Additionally, we currently house the central library for physics that also is the department library of chemistry.
  • Getting there: The Arsenal is not the best accessible stop with public transport. What benefits this current location will gain with the access to the coming U5 at the Arne-Karlsson park will be traded for (potentially) no immediate U-Bahn access. The City of Vienna has however in a development plan of the Arsenal criticized this as well, so this might change. Bus routes will probably be adapted.
  • The Illusion of Choice: Can we say no? As we see now with the proposed quantum labs at the campus, other faculties (somewhat understandably) do not like it when we build stuff in their front yard. As you can see yourself, the current building is used up and the neighbouring buildings are residential and commercial. Building codes also limit building height, and our current façade is under historical protection. The options are therefore limited in our current vicinity.
  • It’s not all about the money, money: The move would be a fiscally smart decision for , as the city wants to develop the arsenal, some other institutions are moving there, and it has more space, so the funding might be more loose than for other locations. The vicinity to the TU could also lend itself to some new partnerships.

The decision:

We as students and staff can not realistically decide whether to move or not. We can however have a vocal opinion about it! This is why we want to ask you to submit ideas, criticism and wishes to us, so we can argue and fight for what you want. To do this, we have set up an anonymous form where you can submit your opinion if you scan the following QR code. We would love to hear it. Even if we don’t move to Arsenal or don’t move at all, this will be an invaluable resource to all who manage facilities at our faculty and will help shape the future.

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