Several brick buildings in a rectangle layout make up the complex which is located on a bank south of the Landstraßer Gürtel. It is the most distinguished building group of Romantic historicism in Vienna and has been constructed in Italian-medieval and Byzantine-Islamic style. Essentially the complex is still preserved in its original form, merely a few workshop buildings within the courtyard were replaced.
The complex was built in the aftermath of the March Revolution 1848, between 1848 and 1856, and was the first of three buildings which replaced the old city fortifications. The area was split into sectors where construction was supervised by the architects Carl Roesner, Antonius Pius de Riegel, August Sicard von Sicardsburg, Eduard van der Nüll, Theophil von Hansen and Ludwig Förster. The master builder was Leopold Mayr. The Heeresgeschichtliches Museum took until 1891 to finish. In the aftermath there were multiple expansions. During the First World War the complex served as a barracks and armoury.
The Arsenal was not always part of the Third District; from its construction until 1938 it belonged to Favoriten. When Vienna was reorganized to form a new Reichsgau in Nazi Germany, inner city borders were reassigned and the Arsenal as well as the area south of it became part of Landstraße.
In 1945 the Arsenal was heavily damaged by bombing, however after the war most it was rebuilt into its original form. In the following years, several new constructions, primarily in the south, were undertaken, such as the workshops for the State Theatres (1959 until 1963) and the rehearsal stage for the Burgtheater in the 1990s. From 1961 until 1963 the Fernmeldezentralamt and 1973 buildings for the Post- und Telegraphendirektion für Wien, Niederösterreich und das Burgenland (Mail and Telegraph Authority for Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland), today the Technologiezentrum Arsenal (Technology Centre Arsenal) of the Telekom Austria) with the 150-metre high Funkturm Arsenal.
The Österreichisches Forschungs- und Prüfzentrum Arsenal (Austrian Research and Testing Centre Arsenal), today Arsenal Research, was located in the complex. A small part of the complex is still being used by the Austrian army as a barracks. Furthermore, the Zentraldesinfektionsanstalt (central disinfection facility) of Vienna is located there.
Part of the Arsenal now contains housing.
An area of the former site was used by the not-for-profit Rail Tec Arsenal (RTA) research centre to provide climatic validation for rail and public transport vehicles.
This facility contained a two climatic wind tunnels capable of simulating all combinations of weather by varying temperature, air pressure, humidity and wind-speed. The long wind tunnel allowed testing up to three railway vehicles at once and had an operation length of 100 metres. The short wind tunnel allowed testing of single vehicles or buses. In 2003 RTA moved to new facilities in Vienna's district of Floridsdorf.
- Doriot Climatic Chambers a similar testing facility in the United States
- Peter & Wolfgang Schubert: Das Wiener Arsenal (Mayer & Comp), ISBN 3-902177-03-9
- Gerdenitsch, Josef: Das Wiener Arsenal in der Ersten Republik; die politische, wirtschaftliche und militärische Bedeutung in den Jahren 1918 - 1927. Universität Wien, Dissertation, 1968
- Schroll, Erich, Diemling, Alfred: Arsenal 2000; Bundesversuchs- und Forschungsanstalt Arsenal; anlässlich des 40-Jahr-Jubiläums. Metrica-Fachverlag Bartak, 1990, ISBN 3-900368-19-8
- "Our commitment". Archived from the original on 14 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
Rail Tec Arsenal is not intended to make a profit but operates on a purely break-even basis. We are an international research and testing centre
- "Design". Rail Tec Arsenal. Archived from the original on 14 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
two climatic wind tunnels (CWT) ... test section of the large CWT is 100 m long and can accommodate a train consisting of a power car and two carriages. At 31 meters, the test section of the small CWT is long enough to accommodate a carriage, a trailer truck or a bus.
- Arsenal Research
- RTA Rail Tec Arsenal Fahrzeugversuchsanlage Operator of the wind tunnel
- Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (military museum)://
- Testing of UK rolling stock Transit of BR stock to and from the Arsenal in 1989