The Architecture of Red Vienna, 1919–1934
- Winner, 2000 Book Prize Competition in Austrian Studies.
528 pp., 9 x 9 in,
- Published: March 15, 1999
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: February 9, 2018
- Publisher: The MIT Press
In this book, Eve Blau looks at how ideological conflict shapedthe buildings of Red Vienna—in terms of their program, spatialconception, language, and use—as well as how political meaning itselfis manifested in architecture.
In 1919 the Social Democrat city council of Vienna initiated a radical program of reforms designed to reshape the city's infrastructure along socialist lines. The centerpiece and most enduring achievement of "Red" Vienna was the construction of the Wiener Gemeindebauten, 400 communal housing blocks, distributed throughout the city, in which workers' dwellings were incorporated with kindergartens, libraries, medical clinics, theaters, cooperative stores, and other public facilities. The 64,000 units housed one tenth of the city's population. Throughout this socialist building campaign, however, Austria was ruled by a conservative, clerical, and antisocialist political majority. Thus the architecture of Red Vienna took shape in the midst of highly charged, and often violent, political conflict between left and right. In this book, Eve Blau looks at how that ideological conflict shaped the buildings of Red Vienna—in terms of their program, spatial conception, language, and use—as well as how political meaning itself is manifested in architecture. She shows how the architecture of Red Vienna constructed meaning in relation to the ideological conflicts that defined Austrian politics in the interwar period—how it was shaped by the conditions of its making, and how it engaged its own codes, practices, and history to stake out a political position in relation to those conditions. Her investigation sheds light both on the complex relationship among political program, architectural practice, and urban history in interwar Vienna, and on the process by which architecture can generate a collective discourse that includes all members of society. Published with the assistance of the Getty Grant Program.
Eve Blau has written the first rigorous and comprehensive English-Language analysis of the extraordinary housing policy implemented in Vienna, without disguising its fatal contradictions. Her major achievement lies in the vivid reconstruction of the sumbolic, semantic and spatial dimensions of what can be seen as Europe's most monumental interwar building program.
Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the history of Architecture, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and Directeur, Institut francais d'architecture
With the hard left in Europe currently extinguished and the free-market Right in disarray, Eve Blau's detailed and discerning account of a political intitiative for architectural reform arrives at a particularly pertinenet moment.
Iain Boyd Whyte, Professor of Architectural History, University of Edinburgh