Perhaps the best-known example of a well-functioning public housing complex in Vienna, the Wohnpark Alt-Erlaa includes 3180 apartments, each with a balcony or loggia. The multifunctional complex also comprises two health centres, two kindergartens, three schools, a day-care centre, a public library, a gym, six solariums, a mall, a church, bars, restaurants, playgrounds, an administration building and several leisure facilities and hobby rooms for more than 20 leisure clubs. There is a swimming pool on every rooftop and an indoor pool and sauna in every basement. Built on a vast area of 240 000 square metres the almost self-sufficient micro-town called Wohnpark Alt-Erlaa is home to about 11 000 residents. It may be considered a city within the city.
The concrete tower blocks A, B (two separate buildings) and C are up to 85 metres and 27 floors high. Planned as early as 1968, they were built in construction phases between 1973 and 1985 by the architect consortium Harry Glück, Kurt Hlaweniczka, Thomas Reinthaller and Franz Requat. The city-owned non-profit building company GESIBA (Gemeinnützige Siedlungs- und Bauaktiengesellschaft) has been the buildings’ owner and landlord ever since this gigantic council housing project was first built.
As an integrated complex the Wohnpark was built according to a holistic vision. Specifically, it was an adaptation of a well-known utilitarian happiness principle, implemented for architectural purposes and posited by the leading architect Harry Glück. The layout of the individual tower blocks and the public and green areas (around 140,000 square metres) are based on an ethical model of architectural design aimed at achieving the maximum good i.e. to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. The principle was implemented with great success, with numerous studies proving high levels of resident satisfaction. Despite all its advantages, the Wohnpark Alt-Erlaa did not become an exemplary model for subsequent residential and urban development projects.
The iconic terraced tower blocks, with their strange yet beautiful futuristic appearance, may evoke feelings of nostalgia in the minds of contemporary viewers. Better still, the Wohnpark Alt-Erlaa is an extraordinary example of past visions of the future. A reminder of sci-fi-like self-contained housing and residential systems planned and executed in the recent past, it might even provide inspiration for projects to come, especially in the light of the global challenge of population growth.
Text by Joshua Koeb
1985Residential: housing complex
2018 Housing complex
1985 AEAG – Gemeinnützige Wohnungsaktiengesellschaft Wohnpark Alt-Erlaa (subsidiary company of GESIBA)
2018 AEAG – Gemeinnützige Wohnungsaktiengesellschaft Wohnpark Alt-Erlaa (subsidiary company of GESIBA)
Form of government
1985 Parliamentary Republic
2018 Parliamentary Republic
Spatial Planning Agency
1985 GESIBA Gemeinnützige Siedlungs- und Bauaktiengesellschaft (owned by the City of Vienna)
2018 GESIBA Gemeinnützige Siedlungs- und Bauaktiengesellschaft (owned by the City of Vienna)
Type of heritage and protection
2018 Not recognised as heritage
Interview with Elfie D.
Interview with Johann H.
Interview with Trautte L.