VIENNA – To the north west of Vienna’s centre, the Nordbahnhof district is currently being redeveloped to add 10,000 households to the fast-growing, multi-cultural city – where almost 39 per cent of inhabitants have immigrant background. Though the whole project will only be finalised in 2025, the recently completed ‘Wonhnen mit scharf!’ apartment building by Superblock already adds 51 dwellings to the equation.

‘Our project focuses on migration and integration of people with different cultural backgrounds,’ say the architects. ‘During this project, we got in touch with biber, a young magazine that discusses these issues in Vienna. With their help we realised that multi-ethnic inhabitants do not need different floor plans, but a place to identify with.’

The result is a simple block resting on a carved-out base that houses a café and an entrance to an underground parking garage. Above, apartments of different sizes are arranged along a central corridor, while the top two storeys are reserved for family-sized maisonettes with a double-height living space. All the apartments feature generous balconies and conform to Austria’s stringent energy regulations.

‘The bright colour of the communal circulation space was above all meant to give the whole building a clear character that the inhabitants could identify with,’ the architects explain. ‘We also started a media cooperation with biber in which they promoted the building to a wide spectrum of the population. Their colour is magenta and their motto is mit scharf. You also say this when you order fast food at a Viennese Würstelstand and it means “very spicy”. For us, it’s a nice way of saying that the project should be somehow special and different from others for the sake of its future inhabitants.’

Photos Hertha Hurnaus and Superblock (where indicated)
Image by Superblock