“We just got materials from companies and a place to build the model out of wood and concrete for free,” said Zeilbauer, who enlisted family, friends, students and volunteers to help with construction. “You can build over 70,000 houses with €19 billion,” said Zeilbauer. “Me and my girlfriend Diana were shocked, that there was no big demonstrations or many signatures on the petition,” Zeilbauer told Dezeen. Related story: Patrick Stevenson-Keating reimagines the value of currency
The government bought the Hypo Alpe Adria bank in 2009 following a series of financial scandals that led to its bankruptcy, and has already spent over €5 billion (£3.9 billion) paying off its debts. Two students, Lukas Zeilbauer and Diana Contiu, decided that the public weren’t doing enough to voice concerns over the government’s spending. “Our main goal with the Milliardenstadt project is to make this incredibly big amount of money understandable, tangible and visible for everyone,” Zeilbauer explained. Students from architecture, civil engineering, spatial planning and computer science courses at the Technical University of Vienna initiated the Milliardenstadt project to illustrate the Austrian government’s spending of taxpayers’ money. “We wanted to create a comprehensive scale for such an inconceivable amount of money.”
Their team calculated how many single-family houses could be built with the money, then planned and built a 1:100-scale city in Vienna’s Karlsplatz square, to help members of the public visualise the government’s spending. Buildings were represented by concrete blocks, laid out onto an urban grid of roads and green spaces painted onto a base made from wooden boards. Photography is by Armin Walcher. Further spending to rescue the bank was projected to amount up to €14 billion (£11.1 billion) at the time the Milliardenstadt project began.