The social housing system of the City of Vienna, Austria, represents an outstanding model of success that enjoys international recognition as it demonstrates and highlights the importance of access to affordable housing for all. This effective model has led Vienna to be ranked as one of the world’s most livable cities, an award it receives year after year.
About 60% of Vienna’s 1.88 million inhabitants live in subsidized housing, either in the social housing apartments owned by the city or in cooperative apartments built with city subsidies. Each year, the city administration and the federal Austrian government invest hundreds of millions of Euros in new housing construction and renovation, as well as in the direct financial support of low-income residents. A unique characteristic of Vienna’s public housing system is its goal to serve both people with low incomes and “a broad middle class.”
Unlike the housing plans of many other international cities, Vienna’s schemes are generally believed to be at the forefront, not only of progressive planning policy but also of sustainable design and architecture. Social housing in Vienna has been widespread since the 1920s, when the post-war municipality began building high-density estates all over the city. Since then, the social housing has evolved, adjusting to changing frameworks and construction methods while maintaining its core principles.
In order to explain the successful policy and share experiences, the City of Vienna’s public housing agency created a traveling multimedia exhibition about the Vienna social housing system. This exhibition, The Municipality is Building. Vienna Residential Construction 1920 to 2020, will be on view at the University of Maryland, School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation’s Kibel Gallery from September 13th through October 20th.
To launch this conversation, on Friday, September 13th, the University of Maryland, School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation will host a symposium, The Vienna Model: Social Housing for the 21st Century, from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m., following the 1:00 p.m. exhibition opening. The symposium has been organized in cooperation with the Austrian Cultural Forum at the Embassy of Austria in Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County.
On Saturday, September 14th, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Montgomery County Council member Hans Riemer will be hosting a Community Conversation that will include presentations by the Viennese delegation and an opportunity for public dialogue. This event will be held at the Council Office Building in Rockville (100 Maryland Ave., 3th Floor | Rockville, MD 20850).
On Monday, September 23rd, from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m., Professor Emerita Isabelle Gournay will give a Kibel Gallery Talk, titled Red Vienna's Housing Program: Practical Lessons and Living Legacy.