Municipal Housing in the 8th district
Municipal housing in Vienna can look back on a proud 100-year history. In 1919, then mayor Jakob Reumann laid the foundation for the city’s successful municipal housing programme. Metzleinstaler Hof, the first municipal housing project, was opened in 1925 – followed in the same year by Ludo-Hartmann-Hof, the first project of its kind in the Josefstadt.
Today, 12 housing projects in the district are municipally managed: their 494 units are home to slightly more women (482) than men (445); 45 per cent of residents are aged between 30 and 59 years.
Behind the sometimes plain facades, there are usually spacious green courtyards, often with large trees, that offer residents the chance to get some fresh air and enjoy nature right at their doorstep.
Architect Cesar Poppovits, a lifelong Josefstadt resident, planned the district’s most important municipal housing projects: Ludo-Hart- mann-Hof in Albertgasse 13-17 (1924-25) and Therese-Schlesinger-Hof in Wickenburggasse 15 (1930).
The most striking feature of the former – named after Ludo Moritz Hartmann (1865-1924), a pioneer of popular education – is the recessed central section with its beautiful decor and palm tree-like maiolica columns. Today, you can treat yourself to sweet delights at the charming CupCakes café to its right or sample sensational Thai cuisine at Mamamon to its left.
For the Therese-Schlesinger-Hof (1930), Poppovits chose a more purist approach. The deeply recessed windows with reveals painted a vivid sealing-wax red form a marked contrast to the restrained ar- chitecture. Therese Schlesinger (1863-1940), née Eckstein, was one of the first Social-Democratic members of parliament in the First Republic. The square in front of the Municipal District Office is also named after her.
The housing project in Lange Gasse 21-23, built in 1955-58, was named after Marie Franc (1960-1971) in 1987. She was a Christian unionist in the First Republic; after the war she served on the district council (1950-64) before becoming the first woman to chair a dis- trict council in Vienna (1959-1964). A 4.5 metre high mosaic of three owls adorns the building’s wall on the Zeltgasse side.
Other examples of art in municipal housing projects include a 5.5×8 metre sgraffito mural on Albertplatz 7, created by Karl Langer in 1954, and a group of sculptures for the fountain in front of Pfeil- gasse 10-12.
The last municipal housing project to be built in the Josefstadt was the Rudolf-von-Alt-Hof in Skodagasse 22, more than 25 years ago.