The coming year at the Az W starts with a bang: The new Permanent Exhibition will present numerous key objects to the public for the very first time, shifting them onto the horizon of the present. From March, the first comprehensive exploration of the relationship between architecture and gaming is on show under the title 'Serious Fun'. And in the autumn, the freshly announced Best Buildings from the whole of Europe are to be seen. While the headline-hitting exhibition 'Land for Us All' is currently on tour throughout Austria.
The Architekturzentrum Wien has used the time of the pandemic to work intensely behind the scenes on the new Permanent Exhibition. From February, this work is to yield an insight into the most significant and extensive collection on Austrian architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries. Under the title ‘Hot Questions — Cold Storage’, seven current issues (Hot Questions) bring silent storage to life, from the impact of globalisation on our towns and villages, via the question of how we want to live, to the contribution that architecture can make to our survival on this planet. Core to the new Permanent Exhibition, too, is the question behind all of the work at the Architekturzentrum Wien: What can architecture do?
What kind of architecture is reflected in doll’s houses? What are the guidelines for the growth of cities in computer games? And, what kind of buildings offer first-person shooters protection from their assailants? The exhibition ‘Serious Fun. Architecture & Games’ shows and enquires into both analogue and digital architectural games. Starting in March, it invites visitors to marvel, to play and to reflect — because games not only work with architecture, they also hold up a mirror to it. In the autumn, Europe’s Best Buildings move, as it were, into the Az W again. It will be exciting to see how the highly distinguished jury — this time chaired by Tatiana Bilbao — responds to current issues ranging from housing to the climate crisis with its selection. Until
7 February, the architecture of the jury’s chairperson features at the Az W in the exhibition ‘Tatiana Bilbao Estudio’. Her projects are characterised by an approach towards co-existence. They begin with ideas for better ways of living together and extend as far as the links between nature and the buildings concerned. With a wealth of sensual materials, vivid collages and models, the exhibition has become a favourite with the general public over recent months. The exhibition ‘Land for Us All’ came as a wake-up call for many people last year. It shows the devastating impact of the enormous consumption of land in Austria, and proposes alternative approaches. ‘Land for Us All’ goes on tour around Austria throughout the coming year, a tour that includes venues in smaller communities. A courageous land policy is needed to stop the progressive sealing over of the land and to secure food security — and this touring exhibition is a wake-up call to the country.
In the coming August, the popular Architektur.Film.Sommer film festival is to populate the Az W courtyard with its audience once again. All year long, a dense outreach programme provides events for the general public and specialist groups alike. Much of this will find its way into the Az W’s Media Channel, which, during the pandemic, has come to include a new and far more international audience. Excursions to new buildings provide a 1:1 experience of them on location, while guided tours provide background information to the exhibitions, and workshops also acquaint even the youngest of our visitors with architecture.
Looking Back at 2021
In a prolongued difficult situation with the pandemic, the exhibition ‘Land for Us All’ came at just the right moment. It has been addressing issues of concern to many people, such as, for example, the climate crisis or a lack of food security due to the increasing sealing over of land, or the rising cost of housing due to land speculation and ‘concrete gold’. With clearly presented facts and figures, but also with viable proposals for solutions, the exhibition has been attracting an interested local audience and been met with a broad response in the media. Back in summer 2021, the exhibition launched its tour through all of the federal states of Austria, where it will also be touring smaller communities over the next two years — always with reference to local land policies. With the exhibition ‘Tatiana Bilbao Estudio’ by the Mexico City-based architect, the Az W then presented another non-European position, this time also with a strong focus on built justice and building in harmony with nature.
For more than two years, preparations have been underway in the background for the new Permanent Exhibition, which is to replace the 17-year-old ‘a_schau’ on Austrian architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries. While developing new curatorial approaches for the presentation of an architecture collection, the opportunity has been taken to upgrade the spatial infrastructure and to take steps towards becoming a ‘green museum’. In addition, significant new acquisitions have been made by the Az W Collection, from historical milestones, such as a set of Haus Rucker Co drawings, to very recent positions by Anna Heringer or gaupenraub +/-.
Lockdowns and visitor restrictions continued to drive the development of digital and hybrid formats to include lectures, symposiums, exhibition tours and webinars for schools. Even if the digital realm can only partially replace physical exchange, it is still gratifying when over 1000 people participate simultaneously online, as they did at the recent symposium ‘It’s getting hot! City in Climate Change’. The Architektur.Film.Sommer was fortunately able to take place on our premises in August and was fully booked out on all four evenings, as were the popular excursions to new architectural projects or to classic locations such as Villa Beer.
“In 2021, too, the pandemic has posed a major challenge for cultural institutions. We hope that these conditions do not become persistant and that the museum can soon re-establish itself as a concrete experiential space and a place for personal encounters. Of course, we shall be taking with us the advantages gleaned from the digital realm as a parallel line. Our thanks go to all public funding partners and private supporters who have stood by us, but above all to the excellent team at the Architekturzentrum Wien.”
Hannes Swoboda, president of the Az W
Angelika Fitz, director of the Az W
Karin Lux, executive director of the Az W