World’s Longest Residential Building

Friday, 17th July 2009 by

We've looked at many of the world's largest things in the past, so for something different, let's look at the longest. Karl-Marx-Hof in Vienna is the world's longest residential building, stretching more than a kilometre through the 19th district better known for large houses and diplomatic residences.

Karl Marx Hof

The building consists of almost 1,400 apartments, meant to house up to 5,000 people. The design included amenities such as a swimming pool, library, laundries, shops, a school and medical facilities. Only the eastern side of the building stretches the full 1,100 metres, but in many sections there are blocks on the western side of the development which create internal courtyards and parks for the residents.

Karl Marx Hof Karl Marx Hof

It was constructed by city planner Karl Ehn as part of the Socialist Party's Red Vienna movement which saw huge quantities of public housing constructed when private housing development was unfeasible due to rent freezes. A special tax was imposed to allow these massive constructions to proceed, while the use of renowned architects ensured the buildings were varied and visually attractive, something very apparent on Bing Maps' bird's eye view.

Karl Marx Hof

The apartments were some of the first in the city to each include a toilet, running water and balconies - luxuries that workers of the time had never experienced before. Today, however, they are less desirable due to their small size and the fact that many don't have showers or other modern facilities.

Several tunnels had to be incorporated into the design to allow the continuation of city streets and traffic flow.

Karl Marx Hof

The building suffered heavy damage during the Austrian Civil War of 1934 when military and police forces took severe action, bombarding the building to force out unarmed families and Party workers who were barricaded inside.  This damage wasn't repaired until some years after World War 2.

Many pictures of Karl Marx Hof can be found at the Great Buildings website.