Sale and Renting
The houses on the Werkbund Estate were offered for sale by the GESIBA (Public Utility Settlement and Building Material Corporation). Prices ranged from between 25,000 schillings for one of the houses designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and 65,000 schillings for the largest house on the estate, No. 40, by Oswald Haerdtl. While 14 houses had already been sold before the exhibition, afterwards no further purchasers could be found. The first occupants moved in immediately after the exhibition had closed in August 1932, but the first unsold houses were not rented out until 1935.
Who were the first residents on the Werkbund Estate? Liane Zimbler wrote of the future occupants in 1932: ‘The estate as such is intended for the upper middle class (business people, doctors, lawyers, higher civil servants, that is, a larger quota of intellectuals), families with two or three children, with or without a housemaid’. A clear preponderance of government employees, employees, business people and schoolteachers can be seen among the residents of the Werkbund Estate during its early years. Several engineers and architects lived there but also a number of company directors and not a few writers, actors and artists. Doctors and lawyers were in the minority, whereas quite a few craftsmen moved onto the estate.
In 1938 Hermann Neubacher, the former chairman of the Werkbund and head of the GESIBA, was appointed the first National Socialist mayor of Vienna. Evidently the Werkbund Estate remained dear to his heart, as the façade was renovated for the first time in August 1938, when the houses were given a fresh coat of coloured paint. On 30 December 1938 the unsold houses passed from the ownership of the GESIBA to the municipality of Vienna. Between 1938 and 1945 several residents of the Werkbund Estate together with numerous architects and designers of the 1932 exhibition fell victim to National Socialist persecution. Towards the end of the Second World War in the spring of 1945 several of the houses on the estate were destroyed or severely damaged. Six of these were rebuilt in different forms (among others by the architect Roland Rainer). Today 64 of the original houses from 1932 remain.
Text: Andreas Nierhaus