The municipality in Vienna in the period between the end of the Habsburg Empire in 1918 and the anschluss of 1938 expended much energy in the provision of housing for the city’s working class, and many apartment blocks carry inscriptions with the city’s name, the date of building, and the architects, officials and politicians responsible for their construction.
The most celebrated of the municipal housing developments (Gemeindebauten) of this period is the Karl Marx Hof at Dobling in city’s 19th district, a structure about 1 km long, containing more than 1382 dwellings, designed by Karl Ehn (1884-1957), a pupil of Otto Wagner (1841-1918) and erected between 1927 and 1930. It houses about 5,000 people. The apartment blocks frame irregular courtyards, one of which, the 12 Februar Platz (named after an anti-Fascist demonstration of 1934) is open to the west, and bounded to the east by a six-storey range, pierced by four arched passageways and crowned with six towers. The apartments are accessed through staircases, entered through elaborated-framed doorways, and projecting galleries. The pedestrian entrances to the courtyards are through portcullis-like wrought-iron gates. On the ground floor are shops, laundries, doctors’ surgeries, a kindergarten, a library and public baths. The Karl Marx Hof was restored between 1989 and 1992.