6 Vienna Altbau Facts That You Probably Don’t Know - Vienna Würstelstand

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6 Vienna Altbau Facts That You Probably Don’t Know

1. Many Viennese buildings were built before 1919. That’s old as f**k!

© Vienna Würstelstand | David Schneider

To put this into perspective, that’s before television, or the first computer, and (as we all know now) waaaay before the internet. What’s even crazier is that these “Gründerzeithäuser” make up 20% of Vienna’s total building stock.

2. The Mezzanine level was originally used to house servants.

© Vienna Würstelstand | David Schneider

It’s all too common to find yourself running up and down the stairs of an Altbau, confused and sweating like a pig, because you can’t figure out if you’re on the right floor. Well, that usually happens because some Altbauhäuser include a Mezzanine level that royally fucks with the whole concept of logical floorplanning.

3. Only buildings that were built before the First World War have a Bassena (the pretty taps and sinks you find in the old buildings around town)

© Vienna Würstelstand | David Schneider

The Bassena is a pretty wall-mounted water fountain located in the common area of an Altbau that once doubled as a meeting spot for the residents of the building. During a so-called “ Bassena Tratsch”, there were gossip and rumours exchanged and political issues discussed. This often resulted in fights and even lawsuits as neighbors didn’t always see eye to eye.

4. Back in 1971, there were more than 270,000 flats that did not have a toilet and/or running water!

© Vienna Würstelstand | David Schneider

Today, there are still an estimated 11,000. That may sound like a lot (I mean, it’s 2022 so I guess it is) but it’s only about one percent of the entire stock.

5. MA 19 decides if an Altbau can be torn down.

© Vienna Würstelstand | David Schneider

Sometimes, the beloved Altbauhäuser are even too old to be renovated and just have to be torn down. But getting a permit to do so isn’t easy, and the MA19 ( Magistrate for Architecture and Urban Design) has established very strict regulations.

For example, it must be proven that tearing down the building is in the “public interest” (whatever that means), and the whole process can be stopped if it’s determined that a “heterogeneous street scene” would be in danger. Ok, but who exactly decides what a heterogeneous street scene is?

To be honest, you’re better off talking to the MA19, because we don’t understand any of this sh*t! And when you do, make sure to say “hi” from us!

6. There are strict m² price caps when renting out an Altbau apartment!

© Vienna Würstelstand | David Schneider

The so-called “Mietrechtsgesetz” regulates how much renters can be charged per square metre in an Altbau flat.

This mainly applies to buildings built before 1945, and there are sh*t ton of companies that focus on helping you recover rent money if you’ve been overcharged by your landlord. So if you live in an Altbau, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and get that money back!

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