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Achleitner’s Austria

The Archive of Twentieth Century Architecture

Thu 18.05.2000 – Mon 07.08.2000
Daily 10:00 AM - 07:00 PM, Wednesdays until 09:00 PM
Exhibition poster

Exhibition poster: Achleitner’s Austria
© Architekturzentrum Wien, graphic design: Krieger|Sztatecsny, Büro für visuelle Gestaltung

At the center of the Architekturzentrum Wien’s exhibition, presented on the occasion of Friedrich Achleitner’s 70th birthday, is the most extensive regional architectural archive of the twentieth century. Accumulating over a span of four decades, the “Achleitner Archive” is the ultimate commemoration of recent Austrian architecture.

With thirty selected buildings – using examples from Vienna’s Neubau district and the city of Dornbirn – the structure of the archive will be illustrated. Four detailed building-biographies show that buildings are “vital subjects” with a complex and often conflict-laden history.

The exhibition also offers a first glance into the projected digital archive, which will be available to the public after completion of data processing to more than 30,000 objects.


Friedrich Achleitner
Dietmar Steiner, Director Architekturzentrum Wien
Otto Kapfinger, Head of Scientific Research Architekturzentrum Wien

wednesdays 08
Wednesday, May 24, 2000, 7:00 P.M., Architekturzentrum Wien
On the occasion of this exhibition, on Wednesday Friedrich Achleitner and guests will discuss the following questions: what relevance does an Architectural Topographer have today? And how has his position in the discourse changed over the years? Where, between an Inventory of Monuments and a City Guide, does this Archive stand?

In cooperation with the vorarlberger architektur institut, der City of Dornbirn and the Dornbirner City Archive.

Supported by:
Stadtplanung Wien
Kunst Bundeskanzleramt
Stadt Dornbirn
Arch+Ing, W, NÖ, B
Schindler AG
Zumtobel Staff

Press Release

Press Preview: Wednesday, May 17, 2000, 11:00 A.M.
Opening: Wednesday, May 17, 2000, 7:00 P.M.
Exhibition: May 18, 2000 – August 07, 2000
Opening hours: Daily 10:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.

wednesdays 08 – May 24, 2000, 7:00 P.M.

Press / Information:
Michael Hammerschmid
P ++43 1 522 31 15 – 23
F ++43 1 522 31 17

Collected on his own initiative over the course of four decades, the “Achleitner-Archive” is the ultimate recollection of Austrian Architecture.
The archive was purchased in 1999 by the City of Vienna and was entrusted to the Architecture Center Vienna for archiving and publication. It is presently being cataloged and digitalized; approximately 30,000 objects will be available to the public in the archive’s final, digital format.

The exhibition shows physical excerpts from this singular collection as well as the first glimpse into the projected database. The focus of this presentation will be a selection of 30 buildings from the Viennese district of Neubau as well as the Vorarlberger City of Dornbirn which together provide an exemplary clarification of the structure and the content of the archive. These buildings can also be accessed via computer – as model representations of the methodology and the layout of the database.

Furthermore, four detailed Building-Biographies demonstrate the archive’s basic approach to the documentation and analysis of Architecture:
More than any other art, Architecture is imbedded in the methods of its time; buildings can hardly be reduced to an “authentic and primordial state”. Buildings are in fact vital “subjects” with particular, complex and often conflict-laden histories.
This approach will be embodied in the presentation of the College of Applied Science in Dornbirn, the former ” Department Store Stafa” in Vienna-Neubau and the Coutry Houses Eichmann and Gamerith in Seewalchen. Many previously unpublished documents and newly produced videos will be used to present these works.

The context of 1960 serves as point of departure; the prevailing public and journalistic attitudes of that t regarding Vienna’s architectural heritage are represented by means of statistics, newspaper clippings and written commentary.
The antipathetical climate of that era, in which monuments such as Otto Wagner’s Stadtbahn viaduct could be demolished without second thought, makes Friedrich Achleitner’s motivation for compiling a comprehensive inventory of the local architectural patrimony clearly understandable.

wednesday 08
24. May 2000, 7:P.M.
From Dehio to City Guide

On the occasion of this exhibition, on Wednesday the following questions will be posed: what relevance does an Architectural Topographer have today? And how has his position in the discourse changed over the years? Where, between an Inventory of Monuments and a City Guide, does this Archive stand?

Otto Kapfinger

Renate Banik-Schweitzer, Vienna City and State Archiv
Wolfgang Kos, Cultural historian and Journalist
Andreas Lehne, Co-Autor Dehio Wien


The main focus of the exhibition is on roughly thirty selected buildings with which the structure of the archive is illustrated – using examples from Vienna`s – Neubau district and the City of Dornbirn. In addition, four detailed building-biographies thematicize a central aspect of archival recording and the analysis of building history.

Vienna – Neubau
The borough of NEUBAU was formed in 1850 through the incorporation of the suburbs of St. Ulrich, Spittelberg, Altlerchenfeld, Neubau and Schottenfeld; until 1862 – when the borough of MARGARETEN was detached from WIEDEN – it was the 6th District. Comprising an area of about 1.6 km2, it is bordered on the north by Lerchenfelder Strasse, on the south by Mariahilferstrasse, on the west by Lerchenfelder Gürtel and Neubaugürtel and to the east by the No. 2 transit line. As is the case for the adjacent borough of MARIAHILF, Mariahilferstrasse (the “Bavarian Landstrasse”) forms the urban backbone of the district. This shared spine gives testament to the fact that part of the suburbs of Laimgrube and Mariahilf lay to the north of Mariahilferstrasse and were thus incorporated into NEUBAU.

STAFA-Warehouse (“Zentralpalast”)
Mariahilferstrasse 120, A-1070 Vienna

City of Dornbirn
Dornbirn, incorporated as a city in 1901, is not only the hub of the Vorarlberg textile industry and a major convention center; it also proudly proclaims itself as a garden city. The population, which stood at ca. 13,000 in 1900, increased to about 35,000 by 1971. The present municipality is comprised of several villages that have grown together while preserving their own individual centers: Niederdorf, Oberdorf, Hatlerdorf and Haselstauden. Niederdorf – the market – is the municipal core and in close proximity to the Railway Station. Aside from the relatively compact architecture of the business districts, the large part of the urban fabric is single-family houses and, above all along the old water courses, industrial buildings.

Bundes- Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Textilindustrie
Achstrasse1, A-6850 Dornbirn


Four detailed building-biographies thematicize a central aspect of archival recording and the analysis of building history.

Villa Eichmann
House Gamerith
Vorarlberg College of Applied Science

Eurocenter Mariahilf
formerly STAFA-Departmentstores
Mariahilfer Strasse 120, A-1070 Vienna
1910 – 1911
Architect: Jakob Wohlschläger
The present building still shows traces of what was once known as the “1st Vienna Collective Sample-Warehouse” (a.k.a. “Mariahilf Central Palace”). The cylindrical building with glass covered court exhibited not only provocative form, it was also a declaration of economic war upon the large department stores, which the socially engaged politician and architect Jakob Wohlschläger undertook without any sort of public subsidy whatsoever. The concept was to offer small-scale, financially distressed handworkers with presentation and sales assistance for their products.

Friedrich Achleitner, in: Austrian Architecture in the 20th Century
Vol. III/1, Vienna 1-12 District, Salzburg and Vienna 1990.
STAFA-Departmentstores (“Zentralpalast”)
Mariahilferstrasse 120, A-1070 Vienna

Villa Eichmann
Litzlbergerstrasse 37, (previously Litzlberg No. 27)
Seewalchen am Attersee, Upper Austria
1927- 1928
Architect: Clemens Holzmeister
Friedrich Achleitner, in: Austrian Architecture in the 20th Century
Vol. 1, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Tyrolia, Vorarlberg, Salzburg und Wien 1980.
The Eichmann house is not only one of Holzmeister’s finest residential buildings, it ranks amongst the most beautiful ensembles in and around Attersee as well. The house sits like a castle high upon a sloping mead; its symmetry – sculpturally and spatially relieved through Holzmeister’s mastery in detail – accentuates the landscape of its setting. The concave form of the side towards the lake was Holzmeister’s response to the client’s wish that even rooms upon the end facades receive a view of the See. The ground plan is a variation upon the typology of an English Country House. The “outstanding Max Fellerer” (Holzmeister) participated in the execution of the furnishings. The boathouse is a masterpiece in and of itself; it received almost unparalleled exposure in the publications of its time. Its plastic effect is certainly a product of its volumetric unity, which, despite its sculptural variegation, seems to be of a single cast. Today, the entire complex is property of the State of Upper Austria and one can only hope that the singular worth of this ensemble will be respected.

House Gamerith
Unterbuchberg 21
Seewalchen am Attersee, Upper Austria
1933 -1934
Architect: Ernst Anton Plischke
Friedrich Achleitner, in: Austrian Architecture in the 20th Century
Vol. I, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Tirol, Vorarlberg, Salzburg and Wien 1980.
The legendary “House on Attersee” – for which, together with the Employment Office in Liesing, Plischke received the Great State Prize in 1935 – would hardly have a chance at surviving design review today. The house, one of the finest examples of “Building in the Landscape”, stands diametrically opposed to what would presently considered to be ” building that respects the landscape”. The misunderstanding lies in the fact that the landscape today is no longer considered to be an elementary entity of nature (to which cities in the 30’s had their own specific relationship), rather, that it is something that is now bound up with the idea of a rural culture. This means that a house which responds “only” to topography, sun, view, wind, climate or the landscape as natural space would be considered misplaced if it doesn’t also respond to elements of the building tradition that are present in its surroundings. Of course, no effort is made to intelligently define the substance of building culture in the landscape (which would be in Attersee for over the last 100 years a bourgeois-urban tradition), instead it is considered correct only when one overtly mimes elements of rusticality. Plischke himself provides an impressive description of the design:

“The building is pure expression of skeletal wood construction. To avoid catching water running down the slope, the continuous wood posts are placed upon concrete blocks. This spares expensive waterproofing. The floor construction is a massive plate constructed from tightly fit tree-trunks, which insures a warm and comfortable floor. An insulating air-space is located between the ceilings and the rafters. The perceivable division between ceiling and roof provides a clear yet relaxed differentiation of the building mass. The continuous window-wall is an independent element cantilevered in front of the wood skeleton. The overhanging roof protects the windows from the summer sun, yet allow full solar penetration in winter. In order to bring the outline of the house into harmony with its wooded backdrop, wood lattices were used during the design process to test positioning upon the site. Simultaneously, the effectiveness in which the windows framed the landscape was controlled through the help of scaffolding.”

One could well describe the sum of these ideas as “Building with the Landscape”.

Vorarlberg College of Applied Science
formerly Federal School for Textile Technology /
Vorarlberg College of Applied Science
Achstrasse 1, A-6850 Dornbirn
1954 -1960
Friedrich Achleitner, in: Austrian Architecture in the 20th Century
Vol. I, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Tyrolia, Vorarlberg, Salzburg and Vienna 1980.
Architects: German Meusburger, Willi Ramersdorfer
A typical example of the Architecture of Optimism from the 50’s which contented itself with the application of formal elements from the so-called “International Style”. The proximity of Vorarlberg to neighboring Switzerland accelerated the acceptance of this approach.


1930 born May 23, 1930 in Schalchen, Upper Austria

1950 – 1953 Architectural studies and diploma in the Master class of Clemens Holzmeister at the Academy of Fine Arts (Akademie der bildenden Künste) in Vienna

1953 – 1955 Master class of Emil Pirchan, stage and set construction

Ab 1953 Freelance architect, collaboration with Johann Georg Gsteu. Most important work from this period is the modernization of the Rosenkranz-church in Vienna.

1958 Achleitner ended his activities as an architect in 1958 and became a freelance writer. He wrote dialect poems and concrete poetry as a member of the legendary “wiener gruppe” (Konrad Bayer, Gerhard Rühm, Oswald Wiener) and participated in the performances of the “literary cabaret”.

1961 Architecture critic for the “Abendzeitung”

1962 – 1972 Architecture critic for the daily paper “Die Presse”. Until 1972 Friedrich Achleitner’s routine architecture critique established a new quality of reflection on the architecture in Austria.

1963 – 1983 Teaching assistant for “History of building construction” at the Academy of Fine Arts (Akademie der bildenden Künste) Vienna

1983 – 1998 Head of the teaching council for “History and the Theory of Architecture” at the Academy of Applied Arts (Hochschule für angewandte Kunst) in Vienna.
As of 1965 Achleitner worked on a guide to Austrian Architecture of the twentieth century that has been published in individual volumes since 1980. This unique work is the result of intensive primary research, based on the analysis of all available archived sources, the personal authentic visitation of all buildings and their linguistic architecture critical evaluation. In an unparalleled connection of historical competence and linguistic analysis, Achleitner achieves the connection of architecture and literature at the highest level. He has received numerous prizes and honors for his work.


1959 “hosn rosn baa”, dialect poems with H.C.Artmann und Gerhard Rühm, Vienna
1960 “schwer schwarz”, concrete poetry, eugen gomringer press, Frauenfeld
1967 “die wiener gruppe”, Ed., Gerhard Rühm, with H.C.Artmann, Konrad Bayer, Gerhard Rühm, Oswald Wiener, Hamburg
1968 “Lois Welzenbacher” monograph, with Ottokar Uhl, Salzburg
1970 “prosa, konstellationen, montagen, dialektgedichte, studien”, Hamburg
1973 “quadratroman”, Darmstadt
1975 “WOHNEN ETCETERA”, Munich
1977 “Die WARE Landschaft”, (Ed.), Salzburg
1980 “friedrich achleitner + gerhard rühm”. super rekord 50 + 50, Linz
1986 “Nieder mit Fischer von Erlach”, (architecture critique), Salzburg
1987 “Aufforderung zum Vertrauen”, (architecture critique), Salzburg
1991 “KAAS” (dialect poem), Salzburg
1994 “Die rückwärtsgewandte Utopie: Motor des Fortschritts in der Wiener Architektur”, Vienna
1995 “Die Plotteggs kommen”, Vienna
1996 “Wiener Architektur”, Vienna
1997 “Region, ein Konstrukt? Regionalismus, eine Pleite?”, Basel
ab 1980 “Österreichische Architektur im 20. Jahrhundert”
(A Guide to Austrian Architecture of the Twentieth Century)
Volume 1: Upper Austria, Salzburg, Tyrol and Vorarlberg
Volume 2: Carinthia, Styria and Burgenland
Volume 3/1: Vienna Districts 1–12, Volume 3/2: Vienna Districts 13–18,
Residenz Verlag, Salzburg


1957 Theodor Körner Prize with J.G.Gsteu (Theodor Körner-Preis)
1980 Austrian Architectural Society’s Prize for Architectural Publication (Preis für Architekturpublizistik der österreichischen Gesellschaft für Architektur)
1982 Prechtl Medal of the Technical University Vienna (Prechtl-Medaille der Technischen Universität Wien)
1983 Camillo-Sitte Prize (Camillo Sitte-Preis)
1984 State Prize for Cultural Journalism (Staatspreis für Kulturpublizistik)
1989 Culture Prize of the City of Kapfenberg (Kulturpreis der Stadt Kapfenberg)
1990 City of Vienna Prize for Cultural Journalism (Preis der Stadt Wien für Kulturpublizistik)
1994 Carinthian Prize for Merit in Building Culture (Kärntner Würdigungspreis für Baukultur)
1995 Province of Upper Austria Cultural Prize for Architecture (Oberösterreichischer Landeskulturpreis für Architektur)
City of Vienna Golden Medal of Honor (Goldene Ehrenmedaille der Stadt Wien)
1995 Prize of the Basel Museum of Architecture (Preis des Architekturmuseums Basel)