Factory for Living: A new model for public housing in Vienna

Living & working are becoming increasingly inseparable, both in regards to working at home but also in an attempt to domesticate the workplace. It is the immaterial worker & in particular the creative professional who is affected by this condition. The immaterial worker is deterritorialised, his workflow is continuous & his output mostly invisible. Where the traditional working class had a workplace which was not only separate from home, but also a form of representation of their interests & identity (both politically & spatially), the immaterial worker lacks this kind of representation. The project therefore imagines a new model of public housing which redefines the relationship between living & working & becomes a form of representation for the creative professional.
Vienna has a long tradition of public housing. During the period of Red Vienna (1919-1934) more than 350 housing blocks were constructed for the working class at the time. Whilst meeting the urgent demand for housing in the post war period, Red Vienna blocks also became a symbol of the working class.
A new model of public housing today reenacts the idea of architecture as a means of representation. Located in the city centre of Vienna (characterised by an extremely high real estate value, commercial activities & tourism) the public housing blocks introduce new elements of production & living at strategic points.
Representation can only be achieved through awareness, both self-awareness & the awareness of others. By reappropriating an existing urban archetype & using the logic of structural reduction to reorganise individual & shared living & work spaces, the public housing blocks seem familiar yet estranging. On the level of the plan representation turns into a form of self-affirmation of the inhabitant’s activities. Whilst Red Vienna remained on the level of the typology & facade in oder to give an identity to its inhabitants, a new model for public housing uses the internal organisation of activities as a form of representation.

Collective work space

The top floor of the tower is a large collective work space. As the cross is reduced to a column, the formerly subdivided floor plates become an open plan condition. Desks are scattered in the space enabling different work groups to coexist. The large windows allow for a view of the city and adjacent public housing blocks.

Shared living and work space

Domesticity is reduced to its essentials - a bed and a bathroom. As the cross contains all domestic functions, working takes place in the large shared spaces surrounding the domestic units.

Individual living space

Individual living and work spaces are located towards the bottom of the housing block. Both activities coexist but are spatially separated through the cross. As the structural crosses increase, also the compartmentalisation of spaces increases. This structural reduction establishes a gradient from domestic to work related activities and a gradient from individual to shared spaces within the tower.

Site Plan Vienna

Maria am Gestade


Architecture as means of representation

Structural gradient

Programmatic gradient: From living to work spaces, from individual to shared spaces

Internal organisation