Sunday, December 3, 2017

Karl Marx Hof, Vienna

Karl Marx Hof, Vienna
Karl Ehn, 1927-30
Visited November 8, 2017

Beside the rhetorical arches, which seem a bit over-exposed at this point, the interior courtyards are impressive in their own right.

We did housing block studies like this at Columbia under Kenneth Frampton. His models were mainly Dutch, but the corner turns here bring it all back.

The complex is about a kilometer long and includes baths, a laundry, a kindergarten and a medical clinic, all inside the blocks facing intermediate streets that cross through them. The multi-arched section is only a single volume deep, with a large park on one side and rail and metro connections on the other. It is flanked by two long courtyard blocks, each spanning intermediate streets. The lot is irregular, so the volumes taper as the extend outwards in each direction. and the volumetric massing becomes simpler, less original but still very fine. Brick is used sparingly as accents in the window strips and around the openings into the blocks. The complex has been beautifully restored.

I imagined the setting to be much more gritty, but it is leafy and suburban, near the end of a streetcar line in a prosperous-looking neighborhood. I guess I was too much influenced by  "Night Porter" - it's where Dick Bogart's character supposedly lives, in a cramped flat. (The flats reportedly range from 30 to 60 square meters).

Photos: DC and Mary Dreyer

Source: Hilary French: Key Urban Housing of the Twentieth Century, Laurence King Publishing Ltd, London, 2008

Far reaches of block, exterior view

Laundry and baths
Additional images and data can be found at the link below. Photos include pre-restoration views:
Tamás Perényi, Tamás Niczki, Zsófia Dankó, Boglárka Szentirmai
Multi-Apartment buildings
Department of Residential Buildings
Budapest University of Technology and Economics

 For more on my visit to Vienna, click here.

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