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Frauen-Werk-Stadt (Women-Work-City): A Township Designed for Women in Vienna, Austria

Frauen-Werk-Stadt (in English, "Women-Work-City") is a housing project made for and by women in Vienna, Austria. This project grew out of the realization that urban planning must incorporate equal opportunities for both men and women. If we were to look around us, most urban planning is designed for the benefit of men. Acknowledging the gender disparities that exist, the planners for Frauen-Werk-Stadt decided to take full note of all the needs of women, inclusion of women, and actions (and what type of effect that each action conjures). The planning and construction of this project is designed to meet the everyday needs of women, paying close attention to routine patterns and different needs of various female 'users'.

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This project really inspires me because it really illustrates how important it is for us women to have our daily needs met by the urban space designed for us. I myself feel the most safest and empowered when a space, low-income or not, has immenities that cater to my needs and provide me a sense of freedom as a human being. The first concept of this project was developed in 1993.

Frauen-Werk-Stadt is very special because it is designed by women architects and planners. They might not know what each woman wants, but they know how to start researching into it. As women themselves, they know how to approach other women, form a collegial relationship with women users, and in essence, plan together. 

This project is very empowering. It helps stimulate the public's interest in women's daily lives, which would otherwise be invisible. 

My question is how can we take what is learnt from this project and apply it to low-income urban planning?

Also, if we were to carry out something similar for low-income urban planning, where and how can we find women architects and planners who have had experiences of living in low-income areas?

Since the creation of this project, Vienna has been very active in gender mainstreaming. It is safe to say, that in my experience, Vienna is one out of three cities in which I ever felt safe and empowered. I now know why.

More on Frauen-Werk-Stadt and Vienna's gender mainstreaming:

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Photo of Meena

Great to have you joining us on this challenge, Po-Yi. And we're loving the initiative you've shared as we are big fans of designing 'with, not for' here at OpenIDEO. Also made me think of the awesome Solar Sister initiative: http://www.solarsister.org which could also provide inspiration for this challenge. I think that women playing a part in economic development has the power to raise the respect they're shown – which in turn plays a part in their safety. Looking forward to seeing more of you on OpenIDEO...

Photo of An Old

Hello Meena! Thanks for sharing about the Solar Sister initiative. I've never heard of them before. Their business model is very empowering and women-centered. Empower women, empower the community!

I agree with you. Women have to be part of the socio-economic fabric of society. That got me thinking. If we were to design a space for low-income urban areas, it should be planned in such a way that women can be economic co-creators/partners with men. The gained respect as a result can make the community safer and empowering for all.

Photo of Stephan

Looks like I have a new place to have a closer look at. Honestly, I've never heard of that project here in Vienna but I will check it out soon and get in contact with the operators. Maybe the Interview Toolkit will come in handy.

I keep you updated, thanks for sharing and pointing out this great initiative.

Regards from Vienna,

Stephan

Photo of An Old

Hello Stephan,

That's awesome! Please keep us updated on that! I myself would like to know what they are currently doing with this.

Greetings from Lisbon,

Po-Yi

Photo of Meena

We're so excited about you reaching out to participants in the project to interview them, Stephan. Real insights start with real people!

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