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Residential Complex on Spallartgasse

Living in a Park


Residential Complex on Spallartgasse
By Michael Webb -

Social housing helps to make Vienna one of the most livable and affordable capitals in Europe and beyond. The city council draws on the legacy of the interwar years, when a Socialist government sponsored such ambitious projects as the Karl-Marx-Hof, which was recently restored and is still a desirable place to live. In contrast to the bleak estates of the Soviet bloc and the much-derided housing projects of Britain and the U.S., the best social housing in Vienna compares favorably with Onkel-Toms-Hütte, Hufeisensiedlung and other 1920s estates in Berlin. They realize the vision of the garden city movement and Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse on a human scale.

Spallartgasse is a recent addition to this legacy: a thousand-unit public-private development in a western suburb of Vienna. In 2016, the city sponsored an EU-wide competition to masterplan housing and a park that would replace a long-abandoned army headquarters, dating back to the era of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Austria today is a peaceful neutral country with little need of military power and trees have sprung up where soldiers once paraded. The city enforces high standards of construction and amenities for subsidized housing, with minimum apartment sizes, ceiling heights and balconies. Sixty percent of all future city-sponsored developments will be subsidized, so the official regulations have a major impact on the market.

To win the competition, driendl*architects had to calculate how many apartments could be accommodated in each block within the height limitations and how they would be arranged.
The configuration had to afford privacy, views and sufficient natural light to each unit, while protecting them from direct sun. Every space, in the buildings and the park, had to be accessible to disabled people. The process took two years and the architects went into a lot of detail to secure approval of their competition-winning scheme, so many of the architectural...

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