The Vienna Model in Vancouver

Vancouver, a city which has consistently ranked alongside Vienna for the world’s most livable city, is now being studied by urbanists as a having one of the most challenging housing situations in the world. Vienna, conversely, has a deep history of social housing that stretched from its famous “Red Vienna” period up to today’s innovation in housing models and social living. This exhibition lays out the Vienna Model of social housing as well as illustrating the architecture, neighbourhoods and the people who have shaped its equitable housing program. In Vienna today, up to sixty-percent of people living in the city dwell in social housing or receive some form of subsidized housing. Is the Vienna model for housing a paradigm that Vancouver could emulate, or even aspire to?

Accompanied with a public program of panel discussions held in distinct institutions, the exhibition The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st Century, is a platform to address the growing public consensus and anxiety that Vancouver’s housing context needs reshaping and reconsideration. How does the Vienna Model resonate with the housing situation and urban imagination in Vancouver today?

The Vienna Model in Vancouver is a collaboration between Urban Subjects, The Western Front, the Museum if Vancouver, the VanCity Office of Community Engagement with support from SFU Institute for the Humanities, SFU School for the Contemporary Arts, SFU Urban Studies Program, and the UBC School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture.

The Vienna Model in Vancouver was initiated by Urban Subjects (Sabine Bitter, Jeff Derksen, Helmut Weber), an artistic research group who live in both Vancouver and Vienna and who focus on urban issues.


MAY 17, 2017

Viennese architect Gabu Heindl participates in Urbanarium’s City Debate #10: Follow Vienna, subsidize more housing.

Vienna, one of the world’s most livable cities, has no affordable housing crisis. Four-fifths of new housing is government subsidized. Should Greater Vancouver follow suit?

⇨ More info:

MAY 19, 2017

Alternatives to the Housing Crisis:
Case Study Vienna
Urban Planning, Dissensual Politics and Popular Agency

Public Lecture: Gabu Heindl
Architect and planner from Vienna, Austria on alternatives to the housing crisis.

⇨ Simon Fraser University Woodwards, World Art Studio, 7 pm

The worldwide crisis of a dramatic lack of affordable housing – even in affluent cities such as Vancouver and Vienna – is part of a larger urban crisis that is based on speculation of urban land, the re-distribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, and on the collectivization of losses and the privatization of gains characteristic of neoliberalism.

Therefore, is a politics aiming at the right to affordable housing for all is necessary in this moment And housing, of course, is always more than itself – for we are housed in cities and thus also in infrastructural networks, power relations, public spaces, all of which are under pressure from market appropriation. In this talk Gabu Heindl proposes equality, justice and the enabling of political dissensus as parameters for city planning.

Using Vienna as a case study, this lecture explores the relationship of affordable housing to urban planning politics and will discuss historic and current housing policies, not least in a critical cross-analysis with the Vancouver case. Touching upon the re-articulated model function of 1920s Red Vienna, Heindl will present her approach to combining strong claims (Setzungen) in public planning with a critique of paternalistic governance and with maintaining zones of contact with popular agency.

Respondents: Stephanie Allen, Matt Hern, Wendy Pedersen

JUNE 6 or 7, 2017

Exhibition visit with Miloon Kothari, former UN special rapporteur on housing

⇨ For MoV members (TBC)

JUNE 15, 2017

Housing of Society

Public Talk: Andreas Rumpfhuber
Urban Researcher, planner and author from Vienna, Austria on housing and city planning.

⇨ Western Front, 303 8 AVE E, Vancouver, 7:00 pm

Today, it seems, housing and consumption are the two instruments left for city planning. In his talk, the Vienna-based architect and researcher, Andreas Rumpfhuber will discuss new forms of housing in an economy that is driven by a new spirit capitalism – a capitalism whose dirty industry has been outsourced to far away countries and in which immaterial labour has become the dominant form of production. In discussing new forms of housing, he will show projects that aim for a renewed emancipatory and political project of housing for the City of Vienna.

Moderators: Urban Subjects (Sabine Bitter and Jeff Derksen)
Respondent: Caitlin Jones

JUNE 28, 2017

Exhibition tour

Dr. Wolfgang Förster, curator of The Vienna Model

Museum of Vancouver


Stephanie Allen is a graduate student in the Urban Studies program at SFU and her research focuses on affordable housing policy and practice. She also works full-time as a real estate developer with a focus on multi-family housing, having worked for over 14 years in both the private and public sector in Alberta, Arizona, and in communities across BC. Stephanie keeps it real in her pursuit of adequate, affordable, and safe housing as basic human right which she sees as vital to creating healthy, inclusive, and equitable cities. She is currently working with members of the Black community on how to address the past displacement that occurred when the City of Vancouver erected the Georgia viaducts.

Back to Event

Hedwig Bauer
CEO of GEBÖS, a non-profit housing developer based in Lower Austria.
GEBÖS was founded 71 years ago from a settlers’ grass-root initiative. It’s mission today is to provide affordable housing both in Vienna and the surrounding rural areas. GEBÖS owns 8.000 apartments as well as 3.000 other units. As most of the non-profit housing developers in Austria, GEBÖS is concentrating on the rental market and on the management of their building stock.
Hedwig Bauer worked as chief accountant for another non-profit housing company, before she joined GEBÖS 16 years ago. In 2010 she was appointed CEO of GEBÖS.

Back to Top

Dr. Wolfgang Förster
has studied architecture, planning and political sciences in Vienna and Graz. He has worked as an architect and researcher.  He was Deputy Director of the Vienna Housing Fund. Since 2001 he has been Head  of the Vienna Housing Research. He is a Delegate of Austria to the UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management, and Chair of this Committee since 2009. He is also chairing the EUROCITIES Working Group on Housing and has been coordinator of several EU-projects. In 2013 Wolfgang Förster suffered a stroke which interrupted his professional cereer for two years.
In 2015 he received the Big golden honorary Medal for Achievements for the Federal State of Vienna.
Wolfgang Förster is author of numerous publications on public housing and urban renewal matters. He has repeatedly pusblished on public housing and urban renewal. Wolfgang Förster is now the coordinator of IBA-Vienna (the 2020-2022 international building exhibition on “New Social Housing”), and he works in his own company PUSH-Consulting (Partners on Urbanism and sustainable Housing).

Back to Event

Gabu Heindl
is an architect/urban planner and theorist in Vienna, Austria. Her practice (GABU Heindl Architecture) specializes in public interventions, cultural and social buildings, urban research and planning. Her current research focuses on a post-foundational theory of planning politics with regard to radical democracy in contemporary urbanism. Gabu currently teaches in the Institute for Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Since 2013, she has been president of ÖGFA (Austrian Society for Architects) and a lecturer at the Institute for Art and Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts. She studied both in Vienna and Tokyo and did post-doctoral work at Princeton University as a Fulbright Scholar.
Gabu’s practice also includes the curation of exhibitions and symposia on issues of politics in architecture and urban planning. She is the editor of Just Architecture (ERA21, 2012), Arbeit Zeit Raum (turia+kant, 2008), and anthology on the relationship of post-Fordist work and architecture, and  theco-editor of Position Alltag – Architecture in the Context of Everyday Life (HDA Verlag, 2009).  She has published in numerous architectural journals such as JAE, Umbau, ARPA, Volume, and derive.

Website of Gabu Heindl
Profil on World Architects

Back to Event

Matt Hern has lived and worked in East Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories for the past two and a half decades with his partner and daughters. He has founded and directed the Purple Thistle Centre, Car-Free Vancouver Day, Groundswell: Grassroots Economic Alternatives and 2+10 Industries among many other community projects.  He holds a doctorate in Urban Studies and is the author of What a City Is For: Remaking the Politics of Displacement (MIT Press, 2016) and Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defence of an Urban Future (AK Press, 2010), amongst other titles. He currently teaches in SFU’s Urban Studies department.

Back to Event

Caitlin Jones is the Executive Director of the artist-run centre the Western Front in Vancouver. Previously she held a combined curatorial and conservation position at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, was the Director of Programming at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery and was a freelance writer and curator in New York. Through her work with the Variable Media Network she has developed policies and standards for the preservation and presentation of electronic and ephemeral artworks. She has written on contemporary art and new media in a wide range of exhibition catalogues periodicals and other international publications including The BelieverMousse and

Back to Event

William Menking, Co-Curator of the Vienna Model.
William Menking is an architectural historian, writer, critic, and curator of architecture and urbanism. He is professor of architecture, urbanism, and city planning at Pratt Institute and has lectured and taught at schools in the United States and Europe. He has been published in numerous architectural publications, anthologies, and museum catalogues, and is the founder and Editor-In-Chief, The Architect’s Newspaper. He has curated and organized international exhibitions on the visionary British architects Archigram, the Italian radical architects Superstudio, and contemporary English design, and he served as Commissioner of the U.S. pavilion at the 2008 Venice Biennale.

Back to Event

Peter Neundlinger
housing expert in the IBA-Wien office, CEO of Wohnservice Wien (City office for housing services), in charge of housing allocation in the subsidized sector and of Wohnpartner (social workers in public housing estates). IBA, the International Building Exhibition, also known as “Internationale Bauausstellung”, takes place in Vienna, with a focus on sustainable social projects.
Neundlinger, born 1954 in Vienna, studied at Vienna University of Economics and Business.

Back to Top

Wendy Pedersen is an author, a researcher, and an organizer who is currently the Coordinator for Vancouver’s SRO Collaborative. She has long been an eloquent advocate for housing justice in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, working at the Carnegie Centre Action Project.

Back to Event

Andrea Reven-Holzmann
CEO of WBV-GPA, a union-owned non-profit housing developer in Vienna, Austria, since 2009.
WBV-GPA was founded in 1953 by the Austrian Union of Private Sector Employees, the largest trade union in Austria. In the last 64 years, WBV-GPA  has built 130 apartment buildings with 8.000 apartments altogether, along with 4.000 meeting rooms, offices and shop units, as well as parking garages. The bulk of the units are rent out, only a very small percentage of the apartments are sold out to the tenants. WBV-GPA is also responsible for the facility management of its housing stock. The WBV-GPA is a medium sized enterprise in the area of the nonprofit housing sector in Austria.
Reven-Holzmann: Studies of law and economics, graduation from the Vienna University of Economics and Business Affairs.
Research and lecturing there at the Institute of Social Policy, later foundation of a private research institute and research management at the Wissenschaftszentrum Wien and at the office of the Vienna City Councillor for Housing. Member of the Land Advisory Board which is responsible for quality control of subsidized housing projects in Vienna.

Back to Top

Andreas Rumpfhuber
Rumpfhuber’s research focuses on the intersection of architecture and economics with a special interest in workplace architecture and (public) housing. His current research project, funded by the Austrian Science Fund, is on “The Office of Society: Architecture of Cybernetics of Organization”. Tbis follows his research project, “Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment” (supported by the European Research Council: ESF/HERA).
Rumpfhuber’s publications include Architekturimmaterieller Arbeit (Turiaund Kant, 2013), The Design of Scarcity (with Jeremy Till et al., Strelka Press, 2014), and Modelling Vienna: Real Fictions in Social Housing (Turiaund Kant, 2015), as well as Into the Great Wide Open – Architecture in the Expanded Field of Society (in preparation: Turiaund Kant).
He completed his dissertation at the Center for Design Research at the Royal Academy of Arts in Copenhagen and was concurrently a member of the doctoral group at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College London.

Back to Event

Werner Taibon
born 1951 in San Vigilio / St. Vigil, Italy, studies of romanistics in Vienna.
Professional experience: CEO of a film distributor, head of TV-series department at ORF (the national broadcasting company), head of programming at ORF, CEO of PUSH-Consulting since 2016.

Back to Top

Urban Subjects: Sabine Bitter and Jeff Derksen are members of the research collective Urban Subjects that is based in Vancouver and Vienna (with the artist Helmut Weber). Urban Subject’s research and projects have ranged from a historical study of autogestion in New Belgrade, self-organized housing and dual power in Caracas, Venezuela, studies of the effects of mega-events on cities such as Vancouver and Milan, and the artistic representation of militancy. They have exhibited in, and curated, shows across Europe and North America.  Their publications include Autogestion, or Henri Lefebvre in New Belgrade (Fillip/Sternberg Press, 2009), Momentarily: Learning from Mega-events (Western Front, 2011) and The Militant Image Reader (Camera Austria, 2016). Sabine Bitter works in the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU and Jeff Derksen works in the Department of English.

Back to Event