128 times a week doorbells ring across Vienna’s 7th municipal district. Doors open to let in Caritas Heimhilfe (help at home) employees, who lend a helping hand with groceries, personal care, household chores - and sometimes, simply share a friendly chat over a cup of coffee. They catch glimpses of worlds hidden to passers-by.
With the project 1070 unseen we offer a glance behind the curtains of the daily hustle and bustle in the busy district Wien-Neubau: we spent a summer accompanying employees of Caritas Heimhilfe on their daily assignments and getting to know their clients: people who aren’t able to leave their apartments due to limited mobility, and can no longer fully participate in public life.
Recordings from these visits merged into a collage of sound documents, inviting outsiders to immerse themselves in the hidden nooks of the district: wartime memories, recommendations for the future, anecdotes from everyday life - the unnoticed voices of the city have much to tell.
Objects borrowed from their apartments playfully create a connection between Heimhilfe clients and the outside world. The installation is currently on display at the district museum Amerlinghaus, where visitors can listen to the fateful story of Mrs. Wolf’s shoes, find out what a “Donnerbalken” is with Mr. Melcher, or enjoy one of Frau Ullmann’s exquisite book recommendations.
To all those interested in reaching out, a postbox next to the installation offers a possibility to get in touch with the storytellers. The design team personally deliver the postcards.
What is the value of neighbourship in urban communities? What role do caring professions play in times of anonymization and digitalization? How can we acknowledge the needs of an aging population in our plans for urban futures? The project offers an impulse to fuel the discussion about new forms of interaction within a community.
The project was awarded the Erste Bank Mehrwertpreis 2018, which aims to raise awareness for the potential of social design.
From the jury statement
“The project successfully portrays the work of home helpers, the situation of care-dependent people and the life behind the facade of the 7th district in a concentrated yet empathic way. Personalities come to light and stories can be experienced, a sense of closeness develops without parading or crossing boundaries. The team approached the participants authentically, respectfully and with great esteem. The choice of artistic medium and the noticeable presence of home helpers at certain times is touching, the objects and the stories they represent are as ingeniously chosen as the sound material.”
Members of the jury 2018: Johanna Dehio (Designer and Erste Bank MehrWERT award winner 2016), Jutta Kleedorfer (Mehrfach- und Zwischennutzung, MA 18), Ruth Goubran, Theres Fischill (Erste Bank), Clemens Foschi, Anja Frohner (Caritas, Erzdiözese Wien), Lilli Hollein, Nadia Brandstätter (VIENNA DESIGN WEEK)