12/15, photo: Natascha Vittorelli
Vienna-First District 1379 formerly 939/Weihburggasse 4
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Time - the enemy of order (I)|
A numbering scheme under which all houses within a given locality were numbered in consecutive order proved incapable of taking into account the changes occurring over the years. Whenever a new house was built it would receive the number following the one previously assigned, regardless of where it was located; when two buildings were combined one number would disappear. Hence, the numbers which were to guarantee order were in fact threatening to create disorder. Originally designed to provide orientation in space, the numbering scheme gradually transformed into one that actually offered orientation in time - the lower a number the older the house.
The decades following the introduction of house numbering not only witnessed "the deep mass of time" we call "History" (Foucault) tumble into the world of animals and plants but also the order of houses being thrown into confusion, which most visibly manifested itself by a series of renumberings. Thus, while downtown Vienna underwent renumbering in 1795, 1821 and, finally, in the years after 1874, some Vienna suburbs saw as many as up to five renumberings.
The predecessor of the building shown above, for example, in 1770/71 was labelled number 958; in 1795 it was renumbered 997, and in 1821 it received number 939 - the number that was then passed on to the Pereira palace built in its place 20 years later. Following the reorganization of land title registries after 1874 the building was assigned Number 1379.
Gallery of House Numbers: Exhibition