Building Cooperatives in Vienna
Assessment of Potential and Conditions

The study addresses building cooperatives, (co-)initiated and co-designed by their future inhabitants. Central for this understanding of such projects is the amount of participation that inhabitants have in the development of their future housing surroundings, their apartments and their houses with common areas and open spaces. That means the projects have to be based on collaborative participation. Although today building cooperatives are common in many German cities, these projects can't be transferred directly to the Austrian situation. But still, there are many common features so that the model can also be successful in Austria and Vienna when the conditions are conducive.

Snowball Survey

A central part of the study is research on the potential for building cooperatives in Vienna. This research was carried out on one hand with a quantitative survey and subsequent expert interviews by SORA, and on the other hand by a qualitative phone survey based on the snowball principle. During the survey duration from beginning of March to beginning of June 2009, 17 building cooperatives could be found which are either active right now, which will start activity soon or which were active in the near past but have given up in the meantime. The project data were collected anonymously, expect for the data on project which are in the planning or building process right because they are already broadly known in public.

Quantative Survey

During this study, a phone survey was carried out which is representative for the Viennese population 18 years old or older. 1,000 people were asked about their satisfaction with their dwelling situation, about their wishes to move and about their basic living desires.

The portion of people knowing others who plan a building cooperative or are already part of one is 6%. I.e. 60 out of 1,000 of the interviewees know people with explicit plans for a building cooperative. To be able to construct long-term prognoses about the building cooperative potential in Vienna, the wide potential is important. That is all people living in Vienna who are planning to move and have a basic interest in the realisation of a building cooperative. 5% of the interviewees can imagine well to found a building cooperative with friends, further 12% can imagine that at least rather well. Rather high is the portion of high-income, young and urban well-educated people below 40 years.

The most important problems of building cooperatives are access to building lots or buildings for refurbishment, missing consultancy, limitation to high-income groups and the question of the so-called "Anbotswohnungen" (proposal apartments) and housing subsidy all together which is in its logic not oriented towards building cooperatives.

A supporting policy towards building cooperatives would have several benefits:

  • urbanizing effects on city expansion and city refurbishment areas
  • higher self-determination and higher dwelling satisfaction
  • facilitations in everyday practices
  • innovation in the housing system

Scenarios of building types for building cooperatives in Vienna are the inner-city parcel, city expansion with urban character (high density), low-rise building for city expansion areas and moderate re-densification for residential areas of the post-War era.

Behind the idea of supporting building cooperatives often stand strategic ideas. The basis for the Viennese support plans are the chance to use building cooperatives as integration and urbanization cores in city expansion areas. But there are also several other political topics which can be supported by such policy. This is for example social, environmental and city development policy. Building cooperatives can be used legitimately as means to an end in such fields, but of course, in addition to the administration practice should be adapted to generate a supportive climate for building cooperatives.

Communal housing stocks are not always in optimum balance with the needs, especially of young families, the creative class and - important because of today's demographic development - older people. Building cooperatives are able to fill such a supply gap. They are an important means to provide living supplies for young families who otherwise would move into the sprawl around the cities and so keep tax payers in the city.

On the other hand, a strategic view on this topic means that all items in city politics and administration should be looked at which can be obstacles for the development of building cooperatives. That is e.g. modalities of building lot tendering and the conditions for housing subsidies.

Recommended Measures for Support of Building Cooperatives in Vienna

Support for Building Cooperatives Level 1

  • Commitment to supporting building cooperatives
  • Building lot tendering
  • Consultancy, representation in the administration
  • Public realtions for interested people
  • Promotion of networking and documentation
  • Development of expertise for advisors
  • Further research
  • Support for cooperation with developers

Support for Building Cooperatives Level 2

  • City development by means of building cooperatives
  • Adaptation of subsidy conditions
  • Support for the development of a parent cooperative
  • Support for tenant self-administration and of tenant cooperatives
  • Project Management
    Robert Temel
  • Project Partner
    SORA Institute for Social Research and Analysis
  • Project Team
    Maja Lorbek
    Aleksandra Ptaszynska, SORA
    Daniela Wittinger, SORA
  • Duration
    February to August 2009
  • Contact
  • Downloads
  • Abstract 18.84 KB
    Project report 968.89 KB german only