In 2023 the Az W celebrates its 30th anniversary, and opens the year with an appeal for a sustainable future. The world's first exhibition on Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari shows her impressive path from iconic modern buildings to zero-carbon architecture. Where the emerging generation of Austrian architects wants to go in the future is shown in the Autumn in the Az W Gallery, while the Main Hall invites all to a summit with Hans Hollein. And the much acclaimed touring exhibition 'Land for Us All' approaches its finale after three years.
“Architecture shares responsibility for the future. And the relationship to the future has changed since the Az W was founded. Today it is increasingly about decarbonising and decolonising architecture,” says Az W director Angelika Fitz. This is demonstrated by the first exhibition of the new year, which is on Yasmeen Lari, the first woman to open an architectural practice in Pakistan, in 1964. When one third of Pakistan was flooded in the summer of 2022, the over eighty-year-old Lari tirelessly provided architectural disaster relief. The exhibition ‘Yasmeen Lari. Architecture for the Future’ covers her life’s work, from star architect to founder of a zero-carbon self-build movement. “In the future, we need architecture that enables a life of dignity and security for all while treading lightly on the planet,” says Yasmeen Lari.
“The Architekturzentrum Wien highlights the social significance of architecture and is regarded internationally as a seismograph and a role model for architecture museums,” says Az W president Hannes Swoboda. This also applies to the work with the collection, where Austrian architecture is always placed in its present day context. The work of Austria’s only Pritzker Prize winner Hans Hollein is re-evaluated in the autumn of 2023, in the exhibition ‘Hollein Calling. Architectural Dialogues’. Groundbreaking projects by Hans Hollein are presented alongside current buildings by 15 European architectural offices. The starting point are his extremely extensive archives, the Archiv Hans Hollein, Az W and MAK, which has been processed at the Az W over several years.
And what are the issues for the emerging generation of architects? How do they envisage their future? In the autumn, a group of young architects presents their concerns and demands in the Az W Gallery under the title ‘Back and Forth Cost Estimates, Breastfeeding and Turnaround Strategies’. Until the end of January, the best buildings from all over Europe are on show at the Az W, also providing hope for a building turnaround. And in its third year, the tour of the exhibition ‘Land for us All’, which continues to make headlines with its appeal for a courageous land policy, is entering its finale with stops in Vienna and at venues in Carinthia, Lower Austria and Burgenland.
The book on the new permanent exhibition ‘Hot Questions — Cold Storage’, which is presented in February, is eagerly awaited. In summer it’s time to roll the projectors once again, at the Architectur.Film.Sommer in the courtyard of the Az W. A dense programme of educational events is planned throughout the year, much of which can be found on the Az W Media Channel, which has attracted a new and often international audience in recent years. On-site excursions make it possible to experience new buildings on a 1:1 basis, while workshops also mediate architecture to our youngest visitors.
Looking back at 2022
After several years of preparation, in February 2022 the new permanent exhibition at the Az W ‘Hot Questions — Cold Storage’ opened with great success, replacing the previous permanent exhibition ‘a_show’ after 17 years. It provides insights into the most important and most comprehensive collection on Austrian architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries. Seven hot questions bring the silent depot to life. Varied landscapes of objects add sensuality and atmosphere to a visit to the exhibition. “Vienna has been enriched by yet another top attraction”, wrote Christian Kühn in the newspaper ‘Die Presse’ on the opening of the new permanent exhibition. While Maik Novotny wrote in ‘Der Standard’: “This exhibition marks a turning point both in terms of the underlying concept and in its presentation.”
The exhibition ‘Serious Fun. Architecture & Games’ invited visitors to marvel, play and reflect, so reaching a broad, young audience. To what extent are architectural narratives to be found in dolls’ houses, according to which guidelines do cities grow in computer games, and what kind of buildings offer first-person shooters protection from their assailants? The exhibition made it possible for visitors to immerse themselves in well-known and lesser-known games while also encouraging them to take a critical look at the world of games and their constructed realms. The extremely popular exhibition of ‘Europe’s Best Buildings’, which is presented every two years, opened in October. For the first time, the Mies van der Rohe Award 2022 spotlighted an educational building, the Town House of Kingston University by Grafton Architects, as the winner while community residential buildings were also strongly represented. Conversions, flexible building concepts and regional processes mark the path towards a building turnaround.
In what was already its second year on tour, the exhibition ‘Land for us All’ was on show at venues in Dornbirn, Ebensee, Gleisdorf, Graz, Innsbruck, Kirchberg am Wagram, Klagenfurt, Kobersdorf, Lassnitzhöhe, Linz, Tulln, Waidhofen an der Ybbs and Vienna — at the Bauen + Wohnen trade fair and at the Camillo Sitte Bautechnikum. It reached large numbers of people, especially in rural communities where land consumption is a particularly acute issue, hopefully having inspired some local authority representatives to rethink. While the exhibition ‘Critical Care. Architecture for a Broken Planet’ continued its international tour with a venue at the renowned De Singel in Antwerp.
“The work on the new permanent exhibition was an effort by the entire team, while the exhibition hall in the baroque emperial stables was completely refurbished after 20 years of continuous operation. The focus was on low-tech and nature-based solutions that create a good climate for the objects and visitors while conserving resources as much as possible,” says Karin Lux, executive director of the Az W. Other areas of the Az W urgently need environmentally friendly renovation over the coming years. And certification with the Austrian Eco-label in the summer of 2022 marked an important step towards becoming a green museum.
“Our thanks to the great team at the Az W and, in view of inflation and the need for renovation, we hope we can rely on continued partnership with the federal government and the City of Vienna. Now, in particular, there is a real need for a cultural location where the potential for a good future can be experienced by all,” say Hannes Swoboda, Angelika Fitz and Karin Lux.