The Alt-Erlaa social housing estate has existed in Vienna since 1976. Copyright ©Gesiba
References - July 2024

"Live like the rich"

Alt-Erlaa in Vienna (AT)

Geberit is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and is looking back at some of its historic reference projects. One of these is the Alt-Erlaa social housing in Vienna, where residential satisfaction is exceptionally high.

No Austrian architect built more flats than Harry Glück (1925 - 2016). In Vienna alone, he designed 16,000 flats in a career spanning over 50 years - most of them social housing. One of his most famous developments was built in 1976 under his principle “Live like the rich, even for the poor“: the Alt-Erlaa residential park.

Modern living for little money
The housing estate is characterised by three parallel, stepped terraced buildings made of concrete. The densely stacked flats cover 70,000 square metres are home to 10,000 people at affordable prices. Spacious green areas and a comprehensive infrastructure with its own underground station, shopping facilities, indoor swimming pools, medical centres and schools make Alt-Erlaa to an own small town.

Despite the high-density construction, the residential park has a village-like character. There are close neighbourly ties in Alt-Erlaa. Associations and its own TV station strengthen the sense of community, while a tenants' advisory council looks after the concerns of the residents. Tenant turnover is very low and the waiting time for a vacant flat is long. In hardly any other large development is the level of resident satisfaction so high.

«Alt-Erlaa was one of the most modern residential buildings of its time.»
Andreas Schmidl, Regional Sales Manager of the Austrian Geberit sales company

At a dizzying height
The centrepiece of the complex are the swimming pools on the seven roofs: a trademark of the architect and a novelty in social housing at the time. Critics therefore described Alt-Erlaa as a “luxurious facility“.

“It was one of the most modern residential buildings of its time,“ says Andreas Schmidl, Regional Sales Manager of the Austrian Geberit sales company. Between 1983 and 1985, when the third block of flats was built, Andreas Schmidl personally worked on the construction site as a plumber and heating engineer.

Geberit pipes drain the roof
Together with around 100 other workers at times, he was responsible for the prefabrication of the Geberit PE pipes and their installation in hundreds of the more than 3,200 flats. He still remembers the work at dizzying heights: “My colleagues and I sometimes had to abseil down the balcony like mountaineers to install PE pipes for the balcony drainage on the building façade.“

Over 1000 Geberit exposed cisterns are also said to have been installed during the first construction phase. Alt-Erlaa has undergone minor refurbishments over the years. Visually, the building has hardly changed. Even today, the social housing still exudes the charm of that era.