About 60 percent of Vienna’s residents live in public housing. And the city works hard to make sure these places are attractive and embody enlightened notions of ecological design, innovation, and social cohesion. Those are two of the points made by a smart new exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York City. Entitled “The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st Century City,” the show looks at 37 projects built in the past decade and a half and examines how the city is using housing to renovate old industrial buildings, strengthen local communities, encourage multi-ethnic interaction, and pioneer new neighborhoods. Good and affordable housing has helped Vienna earn the top spot on the Mercer “Quality of Living” survey for the past four years and the Number 2 position in The Economist’s 2012 ranking of the World’s Most Livable Cities.

While the predominant role of the public sector in Vienna’s housing makes the Austrian capital seem radically different from American cities, there are a lot of lessons the U.S. can learn from “The Vienna Model,” says William Menking, who curated the exhibition with Wolfgang Förster, head of the Department for Housing Research of the City of Vienna. (Sabine Bitter and Helmut Weber curated the artworks accompanying the projects.) Menking, who is the editor-in-chief of The Architect’s Newspaper, says that the case studies in the exhibition offer useful ideas to American architects in terms of the planning and design of housing.

The exhibition runs at the Austrian Cultural Forum through September 2, then will go to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and finally Vienna. http://www.acfny.org/event/the-vienna-model/

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Bednar Park / Wohnen Am Park by PPAG Architects. Photo by Stadt Wien-MA 18/Rupert Christanell.

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Wienerberg City Urban Development designed by Helmut Wimmer. Photo by Stadt Wien-MA 18/Rupert Christanell.