Meet Vienna’s Twin: Vancouver House to Finally Rise in Austria!

The cities of Austria and Vancouver are working together to develop low-carbon, green buildings from mass timber construction systems.

Tue 12 Mar 24


As work starts on the seven-storey “Vienna House”, the latest project delivered by the City of Vancouver to meet Canadian demand for affordable low-carbon accommodation – planning is underway for its twin, “Vancouver House,” a five-storey cross-laminated timber building in the heart of Vienna.

Known as Wien Kanal (in Austrian), it will have 107 subsidized rental units – in what is the latest push by the Austrian government to embrace mass timber solutions to address its social and affordable housing crisis.

The twin designs – come from a partnership between the Vancouver and Vienna governments, with the University of British Columbia working on the mass timber design for “Vienna House” as part of a mass timber demonstration program.

Vienna House aims to demonstrate that affordable, climate resilient, thoughtfully designed homes should be available to everyone. (Photo Credit: City of Vancouver)
Vienna House in Vancouver demonstrates that affordable, climate-resilient, thoughtfully designed homes should be available to everyone. (Photo Credit: City of Vancouver)

This ultimately led to representatives from the two cities meeting in Vancouver, where they forged a new partnership (before the pandemic) to promote low-carbon, mass timber solutions in both jurisdictions.

Originally slated for construction in 2022, the “Vancouver House” project was developed “a bit differently,” according to Bernd Vogl, the former Chief Energy Planner for the City of Vienna, who said a design competition awarded the winning design.

“For Vancouver House, key requirements included the use of timber and digital building information modelling (BIM), the latter of which was to ensure optimized planning and construction to keep costs low,” he said.

“An unusually large number of teams participated in the competition,” according to Wolfgang Winter, a university professor who served as a member of the competition’s jury, before adding that “all ten projects exhibit different architectural ideas regarding the structure and arrangement of the buildings on the site.”

In 2022, the British Columbia Government travelled to Austria to view Vancouver House. In 2018, the City of Vienna and the City of Vancouver agreed that each city’s green building program leaders would compare notes on solutions and approaches to low-carbon affordable housing—footage courtesy of @bchousing.

Professor Winter added that “all projects were well-designed and well-executed; each could have been constructed without any problems.”

After jury meetings in November 2019, the winning entry ultimately came from developer Frieden and architect Rüdiger Lainer + Partner

Their proposal featured a wooden hybrid structure, including wood-concrete composite slabs, external cross-laminated timber walls, and defined joints allowing mountable and demountable construction. 

Wood Central understands that revised plans for “Vancouver House” will be submitted to the City of Vienna for approval. The developers recently switched builders, and construction on the building will start later this year.


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    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


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