Vienna 1932 Exhibition – Lainz housing estate
June 5 – August 7
www.werkbundsiedlung-wien.at

Thirty-two Austrian and foreign architects took part in the Viennese project: Richard Bauer, Josef Frank, Oskar Strnad, Anton Brenner, Karl A. Biebier, Otto Niedermoser, Walter Loos, Adolf Loos, Eugen Wachberger, Clemens Holzmeister, Walter Sobotka, Oskar Wlach, Julius Jirasek, Ernst Plischke, Josef Wenzel, Oswald Haerdtl, Ernst Lichtblau, Hugo George, Hans A. Vetter, Max Fellerer, Otto Breuer, Grette Schütte-Lihotzky, Josef F. Dex, Helmut Wagner-Freynsheim (Austria); Hugo Häring (Germany); André Lurcat, Jacques Groag, Gabriel Guevrekian (France); Arthur Grünberger, Richard J. Neutra (USA); and Gerrit Th. Rietveld (Holland).
The development comprised exclusively of row and detached houses. Josef Frank was responsible for the planning layout and directed the realisation of the 70 houses. The exhibition’s financing was made possible by the Commune of Vienna’s Housing Assistance Action (Heimbau-Hilfsaction der Gemeinde Wien), which guaranteed low-interest loans. The Commune of Vienna also donated the lot.

Inspired by the Werkbund’s Weissenhof and Brno projects (1927 and 1928, respectively), both received with great interest in Austria, the organisers focused exclusively on detached and row-houses. The show houses were presented to the public fully furnished. To many commentators, the Viennese project may have been intended as an argument directed against the municipal housing policy in Vienna which –since the early 1920s – promoted building large flats. The small detached house as an element of housing policy thus became the principal topic of the Werkbund’s Viennese project.
The somewhat chaotic placement of individual houses and groups of buildings, which did not escape contemporary critics, became obliterated over time by maturing vegetation – as it was predicted already in 1932. All houses featured flat roofs and cubical volumes whose treatment was very simple to save space and money. The treatment of elevations was flat and restrained, the expanses of the walls animated only by windows and doors. Few houses had unusual features, like the one by Adolf Loos, with a gallery and cathedral ceiling in the living room.

The development’s design was not as uniform as it had been in the Werkbund’s earlier projects. In its interior design, Hugo Häring noticed a certain tendency towards decorativeness favoured by the Wiener Werkstätten (Vienna Workshops). The exhibition was generally judged as an overall success. Many houses were sold within a few days after the opening.