Since 2008, the population of Vienna has increased by 220,000 inhabitants, from 1.67 million in 2008 to 1.90 million in 2019. This means an annual growth rate of 1.4%. Current forecasts predict a similar trend for the coming years and in around 2025 Vienna is predicted to top the two- million-inhabitant mark. To fulfil the demand for housing, a joint strategy of urban expansion and re-densification was established as a part of the “Urban Development Plan 2025”. The main objective is to ensure space-saving urban development and to maintain the ratio of 50% green space. Therefore, new urban developments should reach a density of 2.5 (gross building land) and existing living spaces in the city, especially from the post-war period, should be re-developed.
A Socially Mixed City
Since the 1920s, the City of Vienna has been providing social housing all over the city. The percentage of social housing (municipal flats and apartments owned by LPHAs) ranges from 10% in the 8th district to around 65% in the 11th district. Until the beginning of the noughties, accommodation in buildings from the “Gründerzeit” offered very affordable conditions – but with poor standards. However, as a result of refurbishment and upgrading, this segment has been continuously shrinking since the 1970s. In the last few years, various strategies such as the “Smart Housing Programme” (SMART-Wohnbauprogramm), the “Action Programme for Prefabricated Buildings” (Sofortprogramm Schnellbauweise) and “New Municipal Flats” (Gemeindebau neu) have been developed to provide more affordable accomodation in new buildings instead.
Vienna is in the middle of a demographic change process: On the one hand, the city’s population is becoming younger on average, however on the other hand the number of very elderly persons has been increasing and their specific needs also have to be taken into consideration. This is already being done in the housing sector, however due to more diverse lifestyles these efforts will have to be increased in the near future using even more varied approaches.
The challenges of climate change and climate protection to which Austria has committed itself, for example through the Kyoto- or Paris Agreement, are constantly relevant for the housing sector, be it in urban renewal or new buildings. High energy standards have to continue to be improved through meaningful, innovative and holistic solutions that are implemented without leading to technological, highly expensive impasses as housing has to stay affordable. At the same time, the resilience of residential buildings in regards to climate change has to be improved. Vienna now already has the highest number of multi-floor passive houses and will elaborate on future oriented themes within the framework of its smart city activities.