German-speaking Europe has a long history of vibrant international competitions for housing. Generally referred to by the acronym IBA, we can trace their roots all the way back to the Darmstadt Colony in 1901, and then 1927 and Weissenhof in Stuttgart and Bruno Taut’s 1932 Berlin Britz.
IBA, or the Internationale Bauausstellung Berlin, was actually created in 1979 in Berlin. And it’s still making waves today. Following this housing competition model, Vienna is launching its own version of the IBA and AN was there for the launch of the initiative.
In Vienna, 60 percent of the population lives in some sort of public housing, and that number is growing. It’s estimated that the city will need 35,000 units of new housing in the near future to keep up with demand.
The city housing administration, lead by Wolfgang Foerster, is hoping the IBA will not just solve this housing shortage but also help fix technology issues and achieve political and social goals. It hopes to use IBA housing proposals to address larger issues such as sustainability, refugee and migrant demands, social mixing, and poverty. The city plans to construct hundreds and maybe thousands of new housing units before 2022.
Today, Vienna IBA kicked off with a public discussion. And given Vienna’s tradition of adventurous housing, it will be something worth watching, particularly in New York where advocates and activists also have a history of trying to affect social policy through the provision of housing.