Small Toolbox 
for the Spatial Perception 
of Donau City 

Daniela Schadauer

The perception of space is always a subjective experience. You can walk through a neighbourhood and find it appealing – or not. The reasons for this are varied. For example, the existing structural measures, the background noise or the different uses of space also determine how an urban area is perceived. 


What does urban space sound like? How is the space used? Who uses Donau City? The spatial awareness toolbox includes many questions designed to sharpen your awareness of urban space in order to deepen and reflect on your spatial observations. Just give it a try and take a walk through Donau City. Or you can explore Donau City using the walking route suggested here which includes small perception exercises within this space. Here the questions/exercises are assigned to specific locations, conditions and places. You are welcome to use these questions to start your own routes and explorations through the area and to expand and supplement the exercises

In general, during perception walks, it is important to keep in mind that the use of the neighbourhood always depends on the day of the week, the time of day as well as the weather conditions and the season.

As a starting point for the exploration, the Kaisermühlen/VIC or Donauinsel subway stations are ideal if you are coming from outside the city. If you are starting from within Donau City, the best place to begin the walking route is the Ares Tower. Further information will be available until mid-October 2023 at the information point at the Ares Tower.


If you wish, you can share your insights, experiences and impressions at as inspiration for others.




Which quarter am I in?

Let your eyes wander: 

How does the neighbourhood appear to you? How is it organized structurally? Is it a place to live or work? What can you hear?

Information booth (Ares Tower)

Plan point A (Reichsbrücke, CopaBeach)

Plan point L (Intersection Isidro Fabela Promenade/Aristides De Sousa Mendes Promenade)



While you are walking, always pay attention to the following details (at each place) in order to truly grasp the specialness of this part of the city for yourself: 


How does this urban space sound?

Sounds and acoustics are an important issue in urban spaces. As you move through the quarter, stop and listen. 

What can I hear?

Are there sounds that are missing? 

Which sounds dominate?

What do the various locations sound like at different times of the day? 

Are there places where the soundscape changes significantly? 

And if so, why?


How is the urban space used?

Who uses the open spaces? How old are those people?

Is there a park or playgrounds? 

Are there dog zones? 

Is the space monitored? 

Is the space barrier-free? 

How is traffic regulated? 

What means of transport are available here? 

How much space is given to pedestrians? 

Are any road users given special attention? 

How far away are the stations of the public transport system?


Building style/façade/spatial structures?

Which architectural style is dominant here? 

Which building materials characterise the urban space? 

Is it colourful here?

Do the balconies/loggias get used? 

Are the structures built very close together? 

Is the space clearly structured and does it offer orientation? 

Are there spacious zones? Are there narrow niches?


What city concept can be seen here?

Are there actors who are missing or unwanted?

Are there grocery stores? restaurants along the street? bars? cafés? industry? educational institutions? 

Is the urban space clean?


Who uses this urban space?

Intersection Isidro Fabela Promenade/Carl Auböck Promenade

A central location. Stop for a moment and watch the people here:

Do you see people while you are walking? 

Where are they coming from and where are they going? 

Are they moving quickly or are they strolling? 

Are there more businesspeople? individuals? families? walkers? tourists? 

What else do you observe? 

How is the wind situation?

Plan point C (Intersection Isidro Fabela Promenade/Carl Auböck Promenade)

Plan point K (VIC, surroundings with UNO City)


Exercise: Focus – Select section 

Often the gaze needs to be given a frame in order to be sharpened. Make yourself a frame (paper or cardboard) and walk through the urban space. Stop at some points and take a look through the frame. Maybe by focusing you can see things that you haven’t noticed before. 


You can direct your focus, for example, on street furniture, stairs or moments of safety.

Pay attention to the layout of the space, façades, materials, green zones, balconies, uses. 


Walk from the intersection to Donau City residential park. The residential complexes and high-rise buildings in this urban space were built in the 1990s. Do you find that this urban space is changing? Do you notice any visible transitions here? If so, how can this be determined?


What are the acoustics of this urban space?

In the passageway between the apartment blocks you will find a staircase down to the taxi stand (Plan point E). From there you reach the street level. IMPORTANT: If you go down the stairs, we recommend that you do not do so alone. Please note that once you have entered the underground area it is strictly prohibited to enter the tunnel! When going toward the VIC you will reach a central “rear courtyard”. 


What sounds do you hear and at what intensity? 

At what point does the soundscape change significantly? 

How does the sound change with the location, the direction you’re facing and the architecture?

Plan point E (Exit down to taxi stand: Intersection Carl Auböck Promenade and Marcel Prawy Promenade)

Plan point F (rear courtyard, traffic)


How is the “public space” designed?

Is there street furniture? 

Is there urban greening? 

Is there shade? 

Are there places that invite people to linger? 

Are there consumer-free zones with quality of stay? 

How do the buildings connect with each other? 

Plan point G (Square)

Plan point J (Surroundings)


How is the “public space” used?

Carl Auböck Promenade ends at Gilberto Bosques Promenade, a wide-open space in front of Donau Park. Leonard Bernstein Straße, a road which feeds onto the A22, the Danube embankment motorway, runs into a tunnel under Gilberto Bosques Promenade. 

What impressions do you have when you spend time on the promenade? 

Are there individual inclinations? 

Are there any prohibited appropriations such as graffiti? 

As you head west toward the wide staircase and stand at the glass balustrade, let your gaze wander.

Is this a place of passage?

Are the relaxation areas being used?

How do you feel?

Plan point H (Live concert)



Exercise: Mental Map

Draw a map of your walk based on your subjective perception of space/spatial memory. Try to draw in a way that creates a picture that is meaningful to you. Mark places that are distinctive to you or places where you noticed something special on the map. Since these are subjective spatial maps, there is no right or wrong. 

This exercise serves to locate oneself and, at the same time, to become aware of one’s own spatial environment. Mental maps depict one’s own perception and the spatial orders of the subjectively experienced space.  




Would you like to share your observations with us? Then send us your spatial observations to [email protected]

This can be your mental map with notes and/or photos of your walk with a short explanation and/or a short text. Selected contributions will appear on


Please note: 

By sending us your contribution, you agree to its publication. 

Daniela Schadauer

(Cultural anthropologist, cultural studies of the city)

English translation by Jennifer Blaak