The Lido – Latin for beach or coast – is, in a nutshell, a courtyard designed to serve as an easily accessible community space for local residents and an invitation to encourage active participation. It also serves as living proof that spaces create opportunities. Kollektiv Kaorle engages with this seemingly banal statement both in theory and in practice. The space they are currently occupying is an abandoned commercial yard at 201 Ottakringer Straße, and any holiday associations are entirely intentional, with the beach serving as a symbol of spontaneous community.
Kollektiv Kaorle is a group of friends with different academic backgrounds in fields ranging from architecture and curating to computer science and sociology. Its members became active a few years ago because they wanted a space that could be used in a variety of ways, one that would facilitate open dialogue and a sense of community. The executive team – currently comprising eleven people – manages the structure which enables all the other members of the association to use the space. It also provides them with the support they need to curate and realise their own projects. The association now has over fifty members. The Lido is kept as open as possible, with low social and financial barriers and focusing on participation as a key goal.
The 18-month interim lease made it possible for Kollektiv Kaorle to develop such an idea in Ottakring, with the space serving a multitude of functions for the community. One room is a dance space and is also used for film screenings and panel discussions. Adjoining the dance space is a small bar, which is used for events, concerts, and discussions. Next to the courtyard is a timber and metal workshop, as well as office facilities and a small kitchen for internal use. A ceramics workshop has been set up on the other side in the non-smoking section of the former Boogie Alm – for many people this is their first contact with the collective and the reason why they decide to join. The floor above houses temporary studios for artists and musicians. The members renovated the premises in their spare time – and are still doing so – while using materials found on site or salvaged from other condemned buildings and repurposed. Many of the tools are provided by members. The collective ensures that they are kept in good working order.
The courtyard – Lido – is located in the centre of the complex and is the place where everyone comes together: people who are already members of the association, local residents who are drawn in by the events or just happen to be passing by, or people who want to try their hand at the ceramics workshop. Some of them come for a few minutes to check out what’s going on, some come for an afternoon or an event – and some stay and become members. It is important to the collective to ensure easy access: their doors are open, the drinks at the bar are sold at cost price, and there is no obligation to buy anything.
The organisation is financed by membership fees, donations, entrance fees and funding programmes. Apart from a few exceptions, the members are volunteers and are not paid for their work. Funds are channelled into expenses, materials, and repairs as far as possible.
The Ottakring complex is on an interim lease and thus has an expiry date – but the organisational and working methods that have been developed here do not. The people here are learning, organising, and developing public-common partnerships with the City of Vienna.