Accepted paper:

Living in a monument: class still matters. A case study of the Vienna Werkbund Estate


Anita Aigner (Vienna University of Technology)

Paper short abstract:

The home as sphere of private freedom and individual self-fulfilment in fact is regulated from ‚outside'. This can be demonstrated investigating heritage-protected residential buildings. Tenants eligible for social housing are involved in a the struggle for good taste against ordinary 'bad taste'.

Paper long abstract:

Buildings sometimes exist, simultaneously in different ‚value spheres' (Max Weber), have different social meanings and ‚lives' at the same time (Appadurai 1986; Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998). This particularly applies to lived-in monuments. Taking the case of the Vienna Werkbund Estate (1932) this paper addresses these different lives of modernist model homes and raises the question of how the ‚second life' as heritage affects the ‚first life' as home and habitat. Based on ethnographic fieldwork the impact of the houses' upgrading to heritage status on the residents is examined. In what way has heritage status changed the residents' attitude and relationship to their houses? Can practices showing acceptance or resistance be identified? How do residents deal with restrictions of monument preservation? Based on the assumption that heritage is not a "thing" but a social process involving power relations (Smith 2006), this paper reveals the hidden structures behind monument protection. The process of ‚purifying' preservation is presented as a cultural struggle in which a normative aesthetics (implicitly incorporating notions of architecture as ‚original' and ‚correct' habitation) is enforced against culturally destitute residential groups. It is argued that heritageization not only fosters identification, i.e. the residents' pride to live in much-valued cultural objects, but also has exclusionary effects.

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Ethnographies of the house, values and manners of inhabit