Published in DASH #05 - The Urban Enclave
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Rabenhof

ViennaHermann Aichinger & Heinrich Schmid

The large-scale housing programme implemented by the city of Vienna from 1923 to 1934 provides a unique example of a direct connection between politics and architecture. From 1919 to 1934 Vienna was run by a social-democratic city council, thus forming a political enclave, known as Red Vienna, in an otherwise highly conservative and clerically governed Austria. Social and economic problems were colossal in Vienna after the end of the First World War and the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. High levels of working-class unemployment were combined with wretched living conditions, generally regarded as the worst in Europe. The city council initiated a programme to build good, affordable housing for the impoverished working classes, financed by the revenue from newly introduced municipal taxes. From 1923 a large number of building projects were completed, producing a total of 64,000 dwellings. Rents were extremely low, being based solely on a contribution towards maintenance, and considerably reduced the cost of living for residents…