The period immediately after the First World War until 1934 is known as “Red Vienna”. At that time, the housing situation for Vienna’s working class was characterised by unacceptable conditions: no water in the apartments, many homeless people, sleeping in shifts. In light of these conditions, social housing became the main focus point of the political agenda of the Social Democratic Workers Party, which repeatedly achieved an absolute majority in the elections for the Vienna State Parliament and the Vienna City Council, and also controlled all districts of the city. It was the birth of the “Wiener Gemeindebau” (Viennese Municipal Building). Light, air and sun were the parameters that should determine residential construction. The city of Vienna built 65.000 new apartments with a revolutionary standard: water and toilet in the apartment (only around 5% of apartments had these facilities at the time).
The icon of this era is the Karl-Marx-Hof in Vienna-Heiligenstadt, planned by Karl Ehn, a student of Otto Wagner, which comprises around 1.400 apartments and gave 5.000 people a place to live. The model of Viennese Municipal Building (the city as owner of the apartment) has remained successful up to this day and is one of the reasons why the housing situation in Vienna is relatively relaxed in international comparison. Today, the city of Vienna still owns more than 250.000 municipal apartments, which house more than a quarter of the entire Viennese residential population.