Hot Questions – Cold Storage

The new Permanent Exhibition at the Architekturzentrum Wien

Architectural model with colourful houses strung together

Adolf Krischanitz, Otto Steidle, Herzog & de Meuron: Pilotengasse housing estate, 1220 Vienna, 1987–1992, model of the elements by Krischanitz
© Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection

The Architekturzentrum Wien opens its new permanent exhibition in February 2022, providing insights into the most significant and extensive collection on Austrian architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries. This exhibition recontextualizes items – some of them high-profile, others lesser known – from our collections. Seven 'Hot Questions' bring the 'Cold Storage' to life.

The Architekturzentrum Wien is the only museum in Austria devoted solely to architecture. The new Architekturzentrum permanent exhibition replaces ‘a_show’, a chronological narrative of building in Austria that ran from 2004 to June 2021, and which still had to rely predominately on reproductions. However, over these 17 years the Collection has grown to include over 100 architect’s archives as well as an extensive collection of project-related material. Many of these original exponents will be shown to the public for the first time in the new permanent exhibition ‘Hot Questions — Cold Storage’. Each chapter is introduced by one of the hot questions of the present context, from the impact of globalisation on our towns and villages to the question “How do we want to live?” to the contribution that architecture can make to our survival on this planet. At the same time, ‘Cold Storage’ allows visitors to take a glance behind the scenes – a dynamic trip through the Depot.

We’ve woven together a complex narrative made up of models, drawings, furniture, textiles, documents, and films. Building in Austria, with all of its cultural, social, political, economic and technical implications, is shown in a striking manner. The contents covered range from the special significance of Red Vienna to architectural pedagogic experiments in the wake of the 1968 movement or architectural revolts in Vorarlberg, to historical and current examples of environmental rethinking. The exhibition also reframes Austria’s architectural canon by taking an egalitarian look at cultural achievements. It examines the ideological instrumentalization of architecture and spatial planning, introduces us to new players, and uncovers new sources.

This plurality is also reflected in the design. A sheer variety of landscapes for the exponents make a visit to the exhibition both a sensual and a rich atmospheric experience. The aim of the Architekturzentrum Wien is to show and ask: What can architecture accomplish? Similarly, this is the background to the new permanent exhibition. At the same time, we ask: What can collections accomplish?

Museum collections are not simply storehouses of vestiges of the past. Their societal relevance is manifest in the inquiries and revelations, and in the link between research and conservation. ‘Hot Questions – Cold Storage’ also opens up Az W’s own actions for discussion and constitutes an enterprising step on the way to a museum of the future.

Concept: Angelika Fitz, Monika Platzer
Curator: Monika Platzer
Curatorial assistance: Sonja Pisarik, Iris Ranzinger, Katrin Stingl
Producer: Andreas Kurz
Finances und conversion: Karin Lux
Assistant: Barbara Kapsammer
Exhibition design: tracing spaces / Michael Hieslmair, Michael Zinganel ; seite zwei / Christoph Schörkhuber, Stefanie Wurnitsch