Office Trip to Vienna

The first stop in our whistle-stop visit to Vienna was a tour of Wohnprojekt Wien, set within the large urban development of Nordbahnhof. The co-housing super block by Eins Zu Eins is made up of 40 units each generously sized with 2 meter deep shared balconies orbiting the exterior timber cladding. There are 700m2 of communal spaces, uncommon for social housing and overlooks a shared urban park.

Cohousing offers the occupants the advantages of home ownership with the benefits of living in a community with shared spaces and activities. There are strict rules and rigorous selection processes before entering with a formalised code of conduct for all occupants. The occupiers are part of the design process from the start to the finish and play a pivotal role in the shaping of the scheme. What feels like a start-up phase for Brits looking in, is in fact a well-established business model for Vienans; mortgages are traditionally lower than the market value built at a modest construction price of 1430 Euros per m2.What strikes me is how well it operates under the strict rules and codes of conduct. People join for a more community cohesive way of life,  to be neighbourly and socially conscious, there is even a grand wooden wardrobe sitting in a shared balcony with no hint of lambasting from its neighbours. It’s an enviable Utopian ideal for a better way of living, perhaps a model that could be considered to today’s modern Britain.Tahera Rouf

I think the thing I found most interesting was the emphasis on the ground floor uses of the buildings. In Nordbahnhof, the ground floors of the apartment blocks were given over to community, ancillary and retail spaces in a way which created an over-all synergy with their surroundings and the neighbouring buildings. By ensuring that these uses were integral to the design, the ground floors became active and interesting places to be.Lucy Devereux

It was a refreshing alternative to the seemingly endless little supermarkets and unlet retail spaces which litter the ground floors of many British residential buildings. Too often they fail to connect with the wider context and do not contribute to creating positive places to live. By contrast, on the Saturday when we visited Nordbahnhof, the community halls were being set up for events, children were playing in rooms devoted to ball pits and soft play and people were sat over looking the park having a cup of coffee. The extensive bicycle and equipment stores meant that families were spilling out of the apartments, safe in the knowledge that muddy tricycles and scooters would be safely locked away on the ground floor after a day spent in the adjacent park. It would be great if this was something we saw more of in the UK.

If you want to find out more about what RCKa explored in Vienna, take a look at our GoogleMaps itinerary.