Gender-sensitive Housing in Vienna – Frauen-Werk-Stadt (Women-Work-City)

Frauen-Werk-Stadt is the first gender-sensitive housing project designed by women in Vienna, Austria.


Additional information





Location: Vienna, Austria

Organization: City of Vienna – Frauenbüro (Women’s Office)

About the Wise Practice

Frauen-Werk-Stadt I (Women-Work-City), was a revolutionary housing project built in Vienna, Austria between 1995-1997. Commissioned by “Frauenbüro”, the City’s women’s office, this initiative created 357 homes that were designed exclusively by women and centred around womens’ everyday life and experiences. The project was considered cutting edge at the time for it’s two main objectives:

  1. To demonstrate how gender-sensitive design could be applied in practice for the first time; and
  2. To increase recognition for women in the architecture and planning professions, and in the housing and development sectors.

In order to design housing to meet the needs of women, the project team sought to understand the everyday needs and patterns of women and incorporate them into every level of the design. The goals were to make housework and care work easier, encourage a sense of community and create comfortable and safe living environments. Some ways this was achieved were in:

  1. Selecting a site in proximity to good transit connections and everyday amenities
  2. Prioritizing pedestrian needs
  3. Integrating amenities and services into the facility, such as a kindergarten, communication center, doctor’s office, pharmacy, police station and retail shops
  4. Including apartments for the disabled and the elderly
  5. Making the central space car-free
  6. Fencing in children’s play areas
  7. Locating the laundry facility on the top floor with natural light, adjacent to a communal outdoor roof terrace to create a more pleasant environment
  8. Creating flexible apartment layouts to adapt to changing family needs, with sightlines from the kitchen to the courtyards and playgrounds
  9. Providing small private gardens for each apartment.


Housing and Land Rights


Goal 1: Promote the development of integrated and age-and gender-responsive housing policies (NUA 32).


Since the completion of this project:

  1. – More women architects and planners have become involved in urban planning projects in Vienna;
  2. – Gender-sensitive planning has been incorporated in all housing development projects in Vienna;
  3. – UNESCO and UN Habitat have selected it as a project that exemplifies best practices; and
  4. – The concept has become a catalyst for advancing the role of women in the urban development sector.


The City of Vienna conducted a survey of residents in 1998 about Frauen-Werk-Stadt and the results generally showed a high level of satisfaction.

Lessons Learned

While the project aimed to provide opportunities for women in the planning professionn, some of the women on the project team were inexperienced, or did not hold feminist views. There are areas within the development where design could be improved.

This project informed two further iterations of women-friendly housing. Frauen-Werk-Stadt II was completed in 2004 and focused on improving living situations for elderly women and youth. The third iteration was completed in 2008 and dedicated for single mothers, elderly women, and women who want to be part of a social community.

Resources and More Information

  1. City of Vienna project page (with PDF links to more information)
  2. European Urban Knowledge Network


Published: August 8, 2021