anticipating comprehensively

Vis!on Rheintal – communication work for regional development

Since 2004 Vision Rheintal (Vision for the Rhine Valley) has formed a model process for spatial development and regional cooperation in the Rheintal in Vorarlberg, which extends between Bregenz/Lochau and Feldkirch. What does Vision Rheintal mean? The commitment to a province that is exposed to the pull of urban centers such as Zurich, Munich or Milan? Or the dream of a “big city”, embedded between the geographical boundary of the Rhine, the landscape of Lake Constance and the attractive hillside locations above the valley?

I was asked to head the working group on communication for a period of two years. This group was made up of those responsible for the public relations work of the 29 local communities involved, as well as a number of additional experts. The main task and the theme for our studio was the communication of the regional development process over a period of two years. The rhetoric employed in standard marketing measures was not suitable, as the aim was to communicate an idea, a process and the questions and intermediate results associated with it. The idea to involve many institutions, specialist groups and people in the development of the region made the process itself into the most important instrument of communication. The main goal was to anchor the Vision Rheintal in the minds of the internal target groups. The project had directly to do with barriers, boundaries and transitions, with the topography of a certain space and its related biological and social environments. We abstracted the cartographical figure of the natural course of the river and the regulated, straightened Rhine bed to form a figurative trade mark for communication, internally and externally. The map of this section of the river served as a basis for a wide variety of explanatory depictions or, enlarged schematically, for charts that could be written upon for planning workshops. Further means of professional visual communication did not play a main role but were used only to accompany and provide support. That is to say, we deliberately did not create a major trade mark but a simple appearance with meaningful elements for visual and verbal design.

The name Vision Rheintal stands for a certain region and for developments that focus on the future. The addition to the title, “Raum kommunizieren planen” (space communicating planning), which we called for, expresses three important aspects of the process in the correct order. The logotype “vis!on rheintal” contains a small but effective element: the inverted “i” in the form ! places a counterpoint to the meaning of the word “vision”. It refers to a return to the concrete space and its history, to the interplay of ideals (vision) and reality (Rheintal).
From the series of communication measures that we developed for the “vis!on rheintal” two are presented below as examples.

Reinhard Gassner

(Tele)Vis!on Rheintal

To conclude the two-year development process we decided to undertake a special action for the local public. As a contrast to the view from above we concentrated on the horizontal view. The idea was to erect picture frames at adult eye level at various locations, which would make spaces, situations and also sensitive areas visible. These were to be windows directed towards the Rheintal, everywhere that the “vis!on rheintal” takes place or is intended to take place. Using steel panels on solid concrete bases, “vis!on rheintal” landed directly on site, or more precisely, at 34 selected locations in the Rheintal. The areas cut-out of the steles measure 34 × 60 centimeters, in either horizontal or upright format. The texts applied with reflective white adhesive letters provided an effective contrast to the dark Corten steel. Among those in positions of responsibility in the towns and villages the discussions about suitable locations and contents led to an intensive examination of important local questions and aspects of spatial development. The objects themselves are important signs in public space and, at the same time, tools that sharpen the view of details. Through their presence they appeal to broad sectors of the population and represent an aid to communication in examining the spaces in which people live. The communities and towns themselves offered in-depth information in local media, community newsletters and other forms of printed material. A map of the Rheintal in the form of a folded poster was issued to provide information about the various locations. It was originally planned to erect these steles for a period of two years, but many of them are still standing in their original position. They have lost nothing of their relevance and make use on a daily basis of the opportunities for contact to the respective locations.

Reinhard Gassner

vis!on rheintal documentation 2006

This book is a document of the results and agreements of a two-year work process. It manifests the positions and models that have been developed, provides impulses and serves as a reference work for the further development of “vis!on rheintal”. The cartographical illustration of the region is like a thread that runs through the entire publication. The same section of the map is always used, but is dissolved into individual planes and thematically processed. Visual depictions of statistics and carefully positioned tables augment and structure the extensive data and the planning sketches. The consistent, pragmatic design was created under the leadership of Stefan Gassner’s design office, working in collaboration with our studio. A powerful, glowing green emphasizes areas, graphics and texts and brings an unexpected freshness to material that can often be dry. The tall, narrow book format is a response to the cartographic proportions of the Rheintal in Vorarlberg. On the inside of the cover flaps there are oblique aerial views of the valley and its centers.

Reinhard Gassner