"The rooster tails are demonstrating for Fascism in Schönbrunn today," prints the Social Democratic Kleines Blatt on Sunday, May 14, 1933. "The republican people of Vienna will celebrate republican freedom at the same hour in the municipal housing projects."
One of the about fifty "freedom celebrations" taking place in Vienna on May 14, 1933, was organized in the Karl Marx Hof at Heiligenstädter Strasse 82–92, which continues to rank among the largest housing complexes in Vienna today. With 1,382 apartments for around 5,000 people, the municipal housing project (Gemeindebau) between the Heiligenstadt train station and the Hohe Warte stadium was the size of a small town.
"Only a municipal construction activity concerned with public health can and must consider the hygienic side of building in such extensive dimensions," the Vienna municipal construction office declared in the brochure for the opening of the Karl Marx Hof.
It is characteristic of Vienna's interwar urban planning that a single housing block rather than multiple smaller buildings was erected on the Hagenwiese in Heiligenstadt from 1926 to 1930. Instead of the Karl Marx Hof, a garden city would also have been a possibility, as the architect Adolf Loos had endorsed as head of the Vienna Settlement Office (Siedlungsamt) in the early 1920s.
The Karl Marx Hof is also typical in terms of design. Its architect Karl Ehn was a student of Otto Wagner, whose urban planning had a longstanding influence on the municipal housing program. The monumental residential blocks countered the bourgeois representative architecture of Vienna's Ringstrasse with socialist institutions.
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