I will attend and present the paper Vienna's Höfe: How Housing Builds the Collective at the next 16th AHRA conference "Architecture & Collective Life", which will take place in Dundee (UK), November 21-23, 2019.
The aim of this paper is to look back on some valuable accomplishments built in Vienna during the Interwar period. The housing projects were realised adopting a specific architectural model: the Hof. The Viennese examples represented an architectural idea and a vision of society, founded on ‘living together’. This collective dimension takes its spatial form in the design of the layout and exterior spaces of the large courtyard blocks. Besides broadening the limited understanding of these instances, this paper assesses their inspiring qualities concerning morphology and spatial sequences. Höfe interact with the individual sphere of the dwelling and the public one of the streets in order to the define the collective space. The main question is the following: how does architecture produce the collective dimension of the courtyard? This paper investigates the spatial characteristics of the Hof in order to identify the main architectural elements that define the collective courtyard space. Selected case studies – analysed through original items and novel drawings done by the author – provide a clear framework to stress the elements to build the collective housing. As sociologists and urbanists claim, in our individualistic society, the collective dimension of the city and common living becomes even more important for a critical reflection. In recent years, Höfe have been renovated, adapting easily to contemporary living requirements and needs, but they embody spatially the collective life. Far from a mere process of revising history, this paper stresses how the architectural components were able to produce the collective dimension of the Hof and why even today they could provide key suggestions for the contemporary housing design and urban policies. In this perspective, Höfe’s heritage and the Viennese long-lasting continuity concerning social housing policies are prime examples of architectural solutions to promote collective life within the city.