Az W Programme 2024

a few people in front of an entrance with the inscription Architekturzentrum Wien, next to it a tree in a large pot and sunshades

Architekturzentrum Wien
© photograph: Lisa Rastl

With the exhibition 'Toourism', in spring 2024 the Architekturzentrum Wien is once again focusing on the social issues and crises that are inextricably linked to building and planning. What impact is the ever-increasing desire to travel having on the built environment, the social fabric and climate change? And how can we envisage tourism that does not destroy what it lives from? In the autumn, marking the 100th birthday of the Viennese architect and designer Carl Auböck, insights are provided into the Az W Collection, as well as a forward-looking view with a selection of groundbreaking architecture in the exhibition of 'Europe's Best Buildings'.

Tourism has been growing in intensity for decades and has become an integral part of our western lifestyle. As an economic success story, tourism has brought prosperity to many regions, so even preventing population decline. However the downside of this success is also becoming increasingly apparent, such as major interventions in the environment and the displacement of local populations due to rising land prices. In most cases, the advantages and disadvantages are unevenly distributed, raising the questions: Who plans tourism? And when does tourism actually become over-tourism? In addition to analyses that are both clear and profound, from March 2024 ‘Toourism’ presents a variety of initiatives that cultivate a caring approach to nature, the local population, towns and villages, the climate and mobility.

Carl Auböck would have been 100 years old in 2024. His anniversary and the acquisition of his estate by the Az W Collection provide the context for the exhibition ‘From Cutlery to Prefabricated Housing Estate: The Architect and Designer Carl Auböck’, from September 2024. Furniture, design objects, architecture models, plans, photographs and drawings illustrate his cosmopolitan life and work. The new Living Archive series provides a unique look behind the scenes. Visitors can peer over the shoulders of the Collection team at work and experience guest appearances by contemporary eyewitnesses.

At the beginning of October 2024, the very popular exhibition of ‘Europe’s Best Buildings’ is on show once again at the Az W. With its elaborate nomination process involving hundreds of experts in over thirty European countries, the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture. Mies van der Rohe Award is regarded as a seismographic event for the architectural sector and the prevailing themes being engaged with. This year the high-calibre jury is chaired by Paris-based architect Frédéric Druot.

The upcoming Architektur.Film.Sommer film festival screens short films, documentaries and feature films on the spatial impact of tourism, engaging with the subject of the current exhibition, along with numerous other supplementary events. The highly acclaimed permanent exhibition ‘Hot Questions — Cold Storage’ will also be explored in depth with a dense programme of events and educational activities. Excursions to the sites concerned give visitors an opportunity to experience new buildings on a 1:1 basis, while workshops for schools and families also teach architecture to the youngest of our visitors. Key elements from the year’s programme can be viewed anytime on the Az W Media Channel.

With its comprehensive Austrian Architecture Collection of the 20th and 21st Centuries, the Architekturzentrum Wien is actively committed to safeguarding the country’s architectural heritage. ‘Az W Collection Online meets the Encyclopaedia of Architects’ is part of the European open access project Digital Cultural Heritage. Digitised objects are linked to the online encyclopaedia, making 19,500 architectural photographs by Friedrich Achleitner, Margherita Spiluttini and Karin Mack available to the europeana database. With the integration of 200 entries on pioneering women architects, this architecture encyclopaedia is being strategically expanded. Research projects and collaborations with universities around the world are also being added to the database in 2024.

In order to physically safeguard the nation’s architectural heritage, the Az W Collection depot in Möllersdorf is undergoing renovation. A restructuring of the former industrial site also requires the adaptation of the depot’s halls. The Az W is using this as an opportunity to implement a conversion to greater energy-efficiency, with grants from the City of Vienna, the BMKÖS, the EU Climate Fund, and the support of the owner of the premises. Combining the previous three halls into one complex makes it easier to archive, access and process the stocks. A 20 per cent increase in floor space, improved exploitation of the halls’ full height and a modern research centre for international researchers are to create a spacious facility for long-term use. The heating/cooling system is being converted to a heat pump. Supplemented by a photovoltaic system on the roof in conjunction with individual measures to improve the thermal quality of the building a reduction in overall energy consumption is expected of 82% (189,500 kwh per annum) and a reduction in CO2 emissions of 85% (37 tonnes per annum).

The renovation and adaptation of the depot for the Az W Collection is a milestone in safeguarding the most important and most extensive collection of Austrian architecture and ensuring the wide scope of its accessibility. Together with public sector financing and private supporters, the Az W is fulfilling its mandate as a — de facto — Austrian architecture museum. However the future financing of the programme and day-to-day operation has not yet been secured. Here, the Az W continues to appeal to the public sector for an appropriate response to current rates of inflation.

A Review of 2023

The Az W celebrated its 30th year in 2023. This anniversary was organised under the motto: Architecture shares responsibility for the future, while this relationship to the future has changed since the Az W was founded. Today, it is increasingly a matter of upholding the rights of people and nature alike. This was vividly conveyed by the exhibition ‘Yasmeen Lari. Architecture for the Future’. Now over 80, Pakistan’s first female architect designed iconic modern buildings before initiating the world’s largest zero-carbon self-build movement. A few months after the opening of the exhibition and the publication of the book of the same title by MIT Press, Lari was awarded the Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of Architects.

Hans Hollein’s estate has been catalogued and preserved by the Az W over several years. The exhibition and the book ‘Hollein Calling. Architectural Dialogues’ present a wealth of previously unpublished material by the only Austrian to have won the Pritzker Prize. In dialogue with 15 contemporary European architecture offices, surprising perspectives on the Hollein phenomenon have emerged. And with the exhibition ‘Back and Forth Cost Estimates, Breastfeeding and Turnaround Strategies’, we asked what the emerging generation of Austrian architects is working on. The exhibition provided a snapshot of their concerns and their requirements, which are characterised by tactical optimism despite multiple crises.  

Our permanent exhibition ‘Hot Questions — Cold Storage’ also engages with the burning issues of climate crisis, distributive justice and life together. The comprehensive accompanying catalogue was published in February 2023 and audio stations with a wide variety of speakers were added a month later. While after almost three years with a total of 21 venues throughout Austria, the tour of the exhibition ‘Land for us All’ reached its finale in spring 2023 with its last stop in Eisenstadt. The exhibition made headlines by calling for a courageous land use policy and attracted many visitors throughout Austria.

Numerous well-attended events, workshops, excursions and the Architektur.Film.Sommer film festival explored the topics of the building revolution, the transformation of existing buildings, the cultural heritage, architectural education, urban development and food security, health, land consumption and the right to housing.

As a green museum, we place a priority on the regular reuse of the materials used for exhibitions. The subsequent reuse of the setting for the Lari exhibition was pre-planned, so all of the wooden elements could be used in the subsequent two exhibitions. The exhibition modules from the touring exhibition ‘Land for us All’ went on to be used at the Kunstverein Eisenstadt, while modules from the Tatiana Bilbao show were used for an exhibition on urban mining at the Sophienspital.

We are also delighted that our café-restaurant, designed by French architects and Pritzker Prize winners Anne Lacaton and Jean Philippe Vassal in 2001, was reopened in the summer of 2023 under its new name, Kaan, having undergone a thorough and painstaking renovation.

“The Architekturzentrum Wien is a place where intense, passionate and well-founded debates are conducted. In addition to critical inventories in times of multiple crises we are primarily concerned with highlighting proactive options. We see the museum as a change maker in moving towards a cohesive, ecological and, by no means least, a more beautiful world. We would like to thank our public sector and private supporters, the outstanding team at the Architekturzentrum Wien, and the public for all of their support and encouragement.”

Az W President Hannes Swoboda
Az W Director Angelika Fitz
Az W Executive Director Karin Lux