The International Building Exhibition (Internationale Bauausstellung – IBA) will be held in 2022 on the subject of New Social Housing – a unique opportunity for the city of Vienna to consolidate its position as an international centre for the scientific research on current developments in the fields of housing and housing development. The city has a long tradition not only in social housing but also in hosting and promoting housing research: A key instrument in this regard is the municipal department for research on housing (MA 50) which carries out primarily applied research as an evidence base for the local housing policy. In addition, the local nonprofit housing providers and cooperatives conduct their own research. And there is a rich base of academic research in the various universities. But the research landscape seems split up into disciplines, institutionally fragmented and only selectively interlinked. So far, there is no academic interdisciplinary research cluster on housing that systematically combines scientific perspectives from the fields of urban planning, architecture, economy, social and cultural sciences, neither in Austria nor in Vienna.
ResearchLab New Social Housing
The ResearchLab maintains the foundational intention of the IBA to create laboratorytype conditions for the investigation of current structures and developments, and for the elaboration of exemplary responses to the challenges of housing affordability and sustainable urban development in the future. Its main aim is to provide space for the consideration of the different aspects concerning socially sustainable housing within the context of a growing, globalised, but at the same time increasingly diversified, fragmented city facing rising social inequalities.
The aspiration is to create scope for the new, the experimental and the unfinished, and to be a catalyst for criticism and further scientific development and progress. The ResearchLab New Social Housing also aspires to this: pursuing an interdisciplinary approach, it is open to all relevant aspects of the theme: housing construction and neighbourhood development, architecture and urban planning, questions of housing policies and regulations, for instance with regard to new procedures, financing and support models and the examination of standards and norms, in response to housing needs and housing practices, including new residential forms and new models of cooperation and participation opportunities in building.
A key focus of the ResearchLab New Social Housing is also on promoting young researchers from diverse academic disciplines and studies. It addresses highly qualified early-stage scientists and scholars who are tackling issues and challenges of social housing as part of their PhD work. It aims at fostering research projects that are suitable for advancing the international discourse on the status and sustainable further development of social housing. The ResearchLab follows the basic idea of Doctoral Schools, presenting a thematic cluster and an opportunity for doctorate candidates from various disciplines and universities for the dynamic, scientific and academic knowledge-sharing of individual research projects; it opens up a realm of experience for cooperative and mutual learning and research at the highest international standard.
Research Center New Social Housing
As a continuation of the IBA-ResearchLab, the newly founded Research Center New Social Housing aims at institutional networking between different disciplinary research fields and at a transdisciplinary cooperation involving actors of Viennese housing production. As a platform, the Center supports critical housing research by young researchers with a focus on basic research and promotes the international visibility and networking of Viennese housing research. Taking into account the interactions between architecture, planning and society, the Center New Social Housing offers space for new ideas at disciplinary intersections, supports experimental housing research with methods and tools of architecture, planning and social sciences, and promotes broadening perspectives beyond disciplinary boundaries.