Join us for a tour in a fascinating virtual museum highlighting one of the successes in Vienna between the wars.
The Wiener Werkbundsiedlung is a great historical example of council estates in Vienna between 1918 and 1934 - the time that is also known as Red Vienna.
The interwar years were marked by catastrophic living conditions. Vienna underwent huge demographic changes with refugees from Galicia including roughly 25,000 Jews seeking to avoid the political violence of the Russian Civil War. At the end of the war, former soldiers of the Imperial Army came to Vienna, while many former government officials returned to their native lands, creating large populations both in and out of Vienna.
In the following years a hyperinflation plunged the middle classes into poverty as many people had bought War Bonds that were now worthless. The new borders between Austria and the nearby regions cut Vienna off from the lands that had fed Vienna for centuries. So, food supply went close to zero. Existing apartments were overcrowded, and diseases such as tuberculosis, the Spanish flu and syphilis raged. In the new Austria, Vienna was considered a capital much too big for the small country, and often called Wasserkopf, big head by people living in other parts of the country.
In 1917 most of the some 400,000 apartments had no toilet or running water and lacked gas or electric lighting. Many rooms had only indirect natural lighting and only around half of the one-room apartments had a kitchen.
Fortunately, all this led to the creation of a housing programme and social building policies that - somewhat surprisingly - still continue today with some 60% of the people living in a council flat or housing subsidized by the City of Vienna.
The Austrian Werkbund was founded in 1912 following the example of the German Werkbund, aiming to ‘ennoble’ the work of product manufacturers by encouraging collaboration between art, crafts, and industry.
The Vienna Werkbund exhibition in 1932 represented the realisation of a utopian project, the Werkbundsiedlung which is a housing quarter with 70 houses in Hietzing, Vienna’s 13th Bezirk. Built in 1932 as a model for modern day living, it is probably the most important example of modernism in Vienna today.
The estate is not exactly a museum as normal Viennese people still live in these houses. This is why we are inviting you to a virtual highlights tour instead allowing you to have a look at the most important houses of the Werkbundsiedlung.
If you want to go to the spot after all, the tour starts at the info-point directly next to Woinovichgasse 32 after which you can follow the trail on the website. However, as all houses are still occupied, you won’t really see much other than the façades, if even that as many houses are surrounded by lovely fences and you cannot see much through them at all.
Instead, why don't you check the virtual tour at https://www.werkbundsiedlung-wien.at/en/council-estate-today/highlights-tour .
As is customary on proper museums, you can also download a museum guide. The “Virtuellen Museum Werkbundsiedlung Wien” offers extensive information on the 70 houses of the Wiener Werkbundsiedlung from 1932. In particular, using the Highlights Tour with Audio Guide makes your visit to the estate a richer one, including highlights of the tour, an audioguide for visiting the architectural monument on site, descriptions and photos of the 70 houses and more. Seach for "Werkbundsiedlung Wien" in the iTunes App Store or in the Google Play Store.
As you are visiting a virtual museum, it is best to check your own coffeemaker and cookie box in the kitchen after or even during the tour and go to your own loo, what ever size and shape it is. The level of accessibility is what you have chosen for yourself. In this museum your umpteenth cousin will be left without your thoughtful museum gift this time as there is no museum shop, even a virtual one.
Photo credits: Werkbundsiedlung Wien
Veitingergasse 13, 1130 Wien