The Vienna Model / Das Wiener Modell



Localgroup Studio and Bruna Press + Archive in collaboration with Paul Schissler and Galen Herz are pleased to present an exhibition featuring Vienna, Austria’s innovative approach to housing, architecture, and affordability, as well as urban, neighborhood, and community development.

Fixing America’s unfair, unaffordable housing system is a daunting challenge when, in places like Whatcom County, almost half of all residents cannot afford the home they occupy. A better housing system that works for all residents will produce a livable, affordable, and open community, with enough affordable homes for everyone. To help us envision a better housing system, The Vienna Model exhibition provides alternative development strategies for consideration.

The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st Century – on view at 221 Prospect Street from April 6 through April 28, 2018 – presents social housing in the context of a stable housing market where over 60 percent of Vienna’s residents live in homes owned by the municipality or limited-profit organizations and where almost everyone who lives in Vienna can afford to live in the city.

This exhibition (curated by Wolfgang Förster and William Menking) illustrates how Vienna expanded the menu of urban planning options. Bringing the exhibit to Whatcom County provides a space for dialogue around the future of cities and towns where quality of life will be affordable.

The Vienna Model spotlights eight key principles through a series of photographs and interpretive displays: Social Mixing, Developing New Urban Areas, Diversity and Integration, Citizen Participation, Environment and Climate Protection, Developing Existing Housing Stock, Building on the Outskirts, Use and Design of Public Spaces, and the Role of Art. These principles have made Vienna one of the most livable cities in the world without making homes unaffordable for the people who live and work there.

Please donate to help us mitigate the costs of bringing The Vienna Model to Bellingham! Thank you!

Related Events

In addition to the exhibition, there will be a series of public programs that invite the community to attend and participate. All events will take place at Localgroup Studio, 221 Prospect Street, Bellingham.

April 6 (6pm-9pm)   Opening reception free and open to the public

RSVP on Meetup or Facebook

April 7 (11am-4pm)   Community Discussion: Bellingham to Vienna

Join local community activists, professionals, representatives, and residents in a discussion on Bellingham’s current housing crisis and what might be learned from The Vienna Model. Special guests include Sabine Bitter and Jeff Derksen, organizers of the Vancouver, BC iteration of The Vienna Model exhibition and members of the research collective Urban Subjects.



Acknowledgements, Opening Remarks, Introduction of the Project

11:20 am

The landscape, data, trends, comparing Bellingham to Vancouver & Vienna


A panel of speakers impacted directly by the housing crisis and people who work closely with people who have experienced housing insecurity, to (1) share personal stories of their housing insecurity and/or advocacy, (2) highlight the weaknesses of the current affordable housing system in Bellingham and (3) speak to the benefits and successes of the current affordable housing system.


Coffee break


Presentations by Jeff Derksen & Sabine Bitter, organizers of the show in Vancouver and members of the Vancouver/Vienna research collective Urban Subjects.



2:10 pm-2:55 pm

Panel of Speakers addressing the concept of what the “social” in social housing means.


Community Research: Community discussion of the day’s most important take-aways and questions in order to build a community demands list.

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April 16 (6:30pm-7:30pm)   Documentary film screening: How to Live in Vienna (2013)

This 49 minute video essay gives an overview of Vienna's housing development from the late 19th century until today. The movie is produced as a cultural journey to selected housing projects showing their urban and social circumstances.

RSVP on Meetup or Facebook

April 25 (6:30pm-8:00pm)   Documentary film screening: Urbanized (2011)

A documentary about the design of cities, which looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design and features some of the world's foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders, and thinkers.

RSVP on Meetup or Facebook

April 28 (1pm-4pm)   Community Discussion: What If...?

Join local community activists, professionals, representatives, and residents in a discussion on what a better housing future might look like and what lessons from Vienna might work in our region.

RSVP on Meetup or Facebook