Summer School 2024

Housing experiments revisited.

Vienna International Summer School on New Social Housing 2024
16–20 September 2024


The 7th Vienna International Summer School on New Social Housing cordially invites scholars, practitioners, and activists to explore the history of housing experiments against the current need for new solutions to social housing. In an era marked by housing shortages, new and changing demands and perplexing housing policies, we aim to delve into the revision of radical experiments, utopias and ideologies of housing that once strived for offering alternative perspectives and solutions.

We seek to understand how these experiments fulfilled their promises and how they evolved over time. Drawing from a diverse housing history, examples may range from modernist mass housing and socialist commune building to the ‘post-utopian’ experiments of the early 1970s as well as the flexible or incremental open building concepts in the peripheries of capitalism. The theme for the current year is closely related to broader societal visions and ideologies, that touch ground in urbanism and housing. Through a historical lens, we aspire to reflect not only on the architectural, social, political, economic and/or ecological concepts underlying these experiments, but also their genesis, subsequent adaptations or decline over time. Furthermore, we aim to explore the emergent forms of living together that have risen from and within these experiments.

To achieve an in-depth exchange on housing experiments, we would like to discuss the following questions:

  • What have been forward-thinking elements of social housing experiments – or the possible dystopian outcomes – that (still) resonate today?
  • How have projects adapted to social and generational changes? How do housing experiments position themselves within their surroundings?
  • Why have some experiments gained prominence and were placed in public or academic archives while others have slipped institutional or collective memory?
  • How did experiments fail, and what were the underlying reasons for their failures?
  • How have housing struggles and protest inspired the development of new solutions? How have dwellers, the state and the market collaborated in housing innovation?

Themes that will be discussed are:

  1. Experimental Housing: Exploring Ideas, Concepts, and Biographies of Historic Project
  2. Housing Utopias: Understanding Contexts, Ambitions, and Translations into Practice
  3. Housing Innovation: Examining Drivers and Outcomes of Technological, Ecological, and Social Change Over Time
  4. Housing Policy: Analysing Incentives and Barriers to Innovation, Mainstreaming, and Upscaling

Join us as we critically reflect on the past, present, and future of social housing in its broadest sense, while collectively advancing our understanding of housing. In a week of exchange and collaboration, we look for responses to the questions mentioned and invite contributions from all academic disciplines. The summer school is open for early-stage academics (predoc, postdoc) from all disciplinary contexts as well as for housing activists and representatives of housing and urban policy initiatives who want to contribute to the above-mentioned topics. During the summer school, we will discuss research findings of empirical or design-based contributions. Building on these, we will also work conceptually by example of urban areas in Vienna.

The International Summer School on New Social Housing is the successor of the IBA_ResearchLab Summer Schools which took place between 2018 and 2022, as part of the International Building Exhibition IBA_Vienna. The International Building Exhibition with the theme of New Social Housing represented a unique opportunity for the city of Vienna to consolidate its position as an international centre for the scientific research on current developments in the fields of housing and housing development. Taking up the rich experience of six summer schools and building on the renowned faculty of the IBA_ResearchLab, the Research Center for New Social Housing was launched in 2022 to continue the international and institutional networking between different disciplinary research fields of housing research and to foster the transdisciplinary cooperation involving actors of Viennese housing production. The Research Center for New Social Housing, coordinated by Dr. Judith M. Lehner, is a collaboration of TU Wien, the University of Vienna and the University of Applied Arts Vienna. The Vienna International Summer School on New Social Housing is kindly supported by the City of Vienna, Municipal Department 50 – Strategic Projects and International Affairs.