(Un)real estate

Online staging of investment-driven housing projects in Vienna

  • Aigner Anita Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Vienna University of Technology

If we want to understand why housing is increasingly becoming a global investment product and the subject of surplus consumption, we must also look at the advertising infrastructures and image products that have been profoundly transformed by new digital technologies. This article examines the promotional staging of luxury and investment apartments using the example of websites that advertise upscale new construction projects in Vienna. The central question is how, and with which forms of aesthetic staging, processes of emotional and temporal entanglement are set in motion. For the analysis, Gernot Böhme’s theory of aesthetic economy and concepts of ANT-informed economic sociology are used. It is argued that breathtakingly realistic architectural renderings should not only be seen as representations, but as ‘market devices’ which, together with the technical-digital environment in which they are embedded, (co-)shape our affects, our desire and our consumer behaviour. The aesthetic work that is invested in the online staging of residential real estate does not simply serve to better imagine buildings not yet built, but rather to sell apartments at an ever earlier date – thus to accelerate the capital turnover.