Laura Frediani on FRAU* schafft Raum

Image: Collage of existing façade before reconstruction. ©, Laura Frediani.
Image: Renovated façade at dusk. Photo: © Christoph Kleinsasser. Credit:, Laura Frediani.
Image: Fragment detail – the charred old plaster comes to light. Photo: © Christoph Kleinsasser. Credit:, Laura Frediani.
Image: Looking from the transformed interior towards the outside. Photo: © Christoph Kleinsasser. Credit:, Laura Frediani.

On 5th March 2021, a 35-year-old woman was set on fire by her ex-partner in her tobacconist’s shop at Nußdorfer Straße 4 in Vienna, and succumbed to her severe burns. Before the femicide, the small shop had always had a special standing in the ‘Grätzl’ (neighbourhood) as an informal meeting place among the inhabitants. In the social interest of the community, district leaders set about the complex task of dealing with this space rather than simply forgetting it. Through this initiative, the former crime scene was transformed into the feminist art space FRAU* schafft Raum (Woman creates space), a hybrid place of remembrance and art.

Working with such a charged space was challenging but also very instructive. Through numerous discussions and constant exchange with the project team, artists and experts, it became clear that the architecture had to be a container for the art and thus function as a platform for discourse. After the conversion, the space continues to characterise the urban context as a popular meeting spot and modern monument that highlights and opposes violence against women.

The architecture establishes a narrative on different levels:
• on the social level, it offers a flexible space open to dialogue on the position of women;
• on the historical level, it establishes a formal continuity with the pre-existing building, whose façade has been restored;
• on the symbolic level, it leaves an eloquent sign in the plasterwork that recalls the cruelty of the act committed;
• on the technical and design level, it proposes a contrast between the heaviness of the 19th-century walls and the lightness of the modern interventions in steel, glass, and white canvas.

The clarity of the surfaces sublimates the violence of femicide in an abstract space, which also symbolically represents a blank canvas available to the artists.

In the project, the original aluminium handle of the old shop was recovered, which bears the marks of the many touches and the many hands of the people who frequented that space.

The metal surface facing the street accompanies us from the hustle and bustle of the outside to the quietness of the interior. Its sheen reflects the image of the people, the city, and the works of art, creating a whole new perspective. FRAU* schafft Raum serves as a platform for a multifaceted discourse and transforms the site of violence into a place of memory, solidarity, and prevention.

Location: Nußdorfer Straße 4, Vienna, 1090
Year: 2023
Architecture: Laura Frediani,
Initiation: Alsergrund district council, Saya Ahmad, Christian Sapetschnig
Funding: City of Vienna, Uniqa (construction project)
Supporters: Human Rights Office of the City of Vienna, Women’s helpline, various universities and artists
Curation: Anna Ennemoser (4 exhibitions per year, two of which are open call)
Graphics: Lisa Eder (Technical realisation Left Studio)
Art: Batja Ferch (artistic photography of the place of the crime)
Sabine Groschup (first exhibition: „Da war die Angst“ – There was fear)

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