Posts tagged with "Austria":

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Christoph Thun-Hohenstein on the future of the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK)

Christoph Thun-Hohenstein was the director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York before returning to Austria to become the director of the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), the world’s leading applied arts museum, which features one of the top design collections. The Architect’s Newspaper’s editor-in-chief William Menking spoke with Thun-Hohensteen about the past, present, and future of the institution.

The Architect’s Newspaper: What is the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/ Contemporary Art (MAK) and how would you describe its mission?

Christoph Thun-Hohenstein: In accordance with a modern understanding of applied arts, the MAK defines itself as a “life museum,” a lively site at the intersection of art and the everyday. The core competence of this outstanding museum with a more than 150-year history lies in the interaction between applied arts and design, architecture, and contemporary art. The last 10 years before I assumed direction of the MAK, there was too much emphasis on contemporary fine art. I tried to reverse that and put the applied arts at the center again. Today the MAK is a world-class museum of applied arts, but it is clearly dedicated to continuing a lively dialogue with contemporary fine art, which we still primarily address as an important impetus to applied arts, though in a different way. The basic assumption for me is that we do not live in times that allow us to carry out business as usual in the museum world (or anywhere else). We live in the midst of a new modernity, which obviously is a digital modernity: The digitalization changes incrementally almost everything in our civilization. People adopt new things and it’s a very important role, especially for applied art museums, to deal with the whole picture of these developments.

Do you believe only an applied arts museum can act in this way?

Yes, because applied arts and especially design deal with almost all things in the world. The digital modernity was primarily driven by design. Think about smartphones and their interface design. It’s our task to have a holistic view, to analyze what is happening together with designers, architects, applied and fine artists, and certainly with research people. We look at what’s going on and act in an interdisciplinary way to come up with orientations, basically about how to shape our digital life. If you’re dealing with a new modernity, it is also inspiring to look back at previous modernities, especially the Viennese modernism. We started to newly analyze design, arts and crafts, developments, and personalities of Viennese modernism, and its current relevance. This in-depth examination also allows us to deal in a new way with important key parts of our collection, among them the Wiener Werkstätte archive, and also make them accessible to the new generations.

The MAK has always had creative and compelling displays of its content by artists. Will this exhibition strategy continue?

Yes doing this is also a kind of precondition of a serious discussion of a new modernity. The exhibition design by artists has meanwhile developed into a tradition and a special MAK feature. It is a result of the intense dialogue between applied art and contemporary art. If you follow our program, you will find many examples for designs of exhibitions and permanent displays by artists, architects, or designers: For example, the Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata redesigned the MAK Permanent Collection Asia. The concept for the MAK DESIGN LAB, a spectacular complete transformation of the former MAK Study Collection, has been developed by the internationally renowned Austrian design team EOOS. Kawamata’s second installment, which opened this year, is much more radical than the first try and gives you a totally new perspective on Asian objects. Moreover it makes aware that the 2011 exhibition Vienna 1900: Style and Identity [curated by Witt-Dörring and Jill Lloyd] was to a large extent influenced by art in East Asia. What we are trying to distill is that an artistically designed gallery or exhibition can be seen as a total work of art.

Nineteenth century?

Yes. In 1900, there was a strong interest in art from East Asia—in Vienna in general and in other places in Europe. What we’re trying to get out of this is also what we can learn from other cultures today, even how to organize our lives. Japanese culture, for instance, can teach us a lot about how to appreciate objects or rituals of everyday life. In the permanent collection, Vienna 1900, which offers a comprehensive overview of Viennese artistic output in the applied arts from around the turn of the 20th century, it was important for us to show that a new modernity is always about two very distinct approaches: new forms—thinkabout the Vienna Secession and the Wiener Werkstätte—on the one hand and new content and the search for the new human being on the other. In practice, you ideally have a combination of both.

For example the exhibition JOSEF FRANK: Against Design allowed us to illustrate, how Frank, one of the most important Austrian architects and designers of the 20th century, who also did a lot of design later on in Sweden, combined the formal aspects and the content aspects for the art of living. Your home is a kind of central element in your life from which you draw your power and your energy. So it was and is the foremost task for architects and other creative people, to come up with a framework giving utmost quality to people. With Frederick Kiesler, you see completely different angles again: He also focuses on the human being, but first he’s geometric and form-driven and then he kind of gets biomorphic. His work discusses the human being at the interface, let’s say, of nature and technology and there’s so much to learn from that, too.

What other exhibits are you planning for the MAK in the coming months?

In 2017 we will organize the second edition of the biennale, which, initiated by the MAK, was launched in 2015 as the world’s first multidisciplinary biennale with contributions from the fields of art, deign, and architecture. It will again be organized in partnership with the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Kunsthalle Wien, the Architekturzentrum Wien, and the Vienna Business Agency with its creative unit departure, and with support from the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology as a non-university research partner. For the central themes of the next Vienna Biennale—roboting and the future of human work—we need a holistic approach. You can only understand where human work will be found in the future if you analyze all the automation developments including specialized artificial intelligence. We should be aware of the fact that the future of human work also has to be driven by a change in consumption.For instance, more people need to understand that it’s better to buy one, preferably locally produced nice t-shirt designed by the regional fashion designer instead of buying 10 cheap throw-away t-shirts in a large global chain that were produced somewhere and then transported around the world at considerable cost to the environment. You need to convince people to change their consumption attitudes and renounce 

For instance, more people need to understand that it’s better to buy one, preferably locally produced nice t-shirt designed by the regional fashion designer instead of buying 10 cheap throw-away t-shirts in a large global chain that were produced somewhere and then transported around the world at considerable cost to the environment. You need to convince people to change their consumption attitudes and renounce those temptations. I go for the one individual t-shirt from a local designer and care about it. What we are trying to do is deal with modernity, get guidance from previous modernities, and inspire people with different parts of our collection, especially when we invite artists and applied artists to deal with the collection. We use that inspiration to come up with impulses, oriented toward the future. We are in the midst of a big role change and you are very much aware of that, not only in architecture and in social terms, but also in design. What we see these days is creative design taking on completely new roles.

What new “roles” are you thinking about here?

Like being moderators of change. It’s my conviction that in order to organize change you should cooperate with designers and artists. Imagine a house with 600 asylum seekers waiting for the asylum decision for a year or more, doing nothing because they are not allowed to work. If you bring in a clever design team devisingprocesses for them, that the higher educated asylum seekers teach the lower educated, that instead of paying for cheap catering, you make it possible for them to cook together, you have the chance to be a moderator of positive change. The same goes for architecture.

By designers you mean architects and industrial designers?

I prefer not to use the term industrial designers. In my perception, it is designers and architects who have to assume new roles and drive the process. The next big task is to bring this new role of architecture and design as a moderator of positive change together with a high quality of aesthetics, of form. This is a process we are in the midst of.

So, to bring a high quality of form together with social?

To bring this social turn of art, architecture, and design together with new aesthetic qualities of art, architecture, and design. While some architects stated that the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale is the end of architecture, I’m confident that creative architecture will get it right to align strong social content with aesthetic quality. It is one of our tasks as museums to make that happen. 

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Pictorial> Twenty-one of the best pavilions from Milan Expo 2015

Milano Expo 2015 is rolling along, with 145 countries and a host of international organizations, civil society organizations, and corporations displaying their food-centric traditions and the latest sustainable agriculture and food production techniques. AN reported on the Expo when it opened:

a handful of designs...stand out as attempts to rethink the way we build and how it relates to modern agriculture and sustainable food production for the next century. Most of the pavilions use sustainable materials and construction methods that utilize national building techniques. Inside, exhibitions—often interactive—showcase biodiversity, culture, and food traditions of each nation.

Beyond the focus on food and agriculture, there is also a wealth of eye-catching architecture at the Milan Expo as well. Here is a collection of some of our favorite pavilions from this year's rendition. And be sure to check out our coverage of the Expo here.
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Architects in Vienna plan to build this skyscraper out of wood

Last year, AN's Midwest Editor Chris Bentley reported on the advances being made in wood construction and how we were on the verge of seeing tall timber towers sprout up around the world. The AEC community has been talking about building high-rise structures with wood for years, but there obviously hasn't been a major revolution with the building type just yet—the tallest modern wood building doesn't even top 100 feet. Well, that record is about to be shattered by a new tower in Vienna that could usher in a new era of high-rise development. The Guardian is reporting that a 276-foot-tall wood tower, known as the HoHo project, will start to rise in the Austrian capital next year. The designer of the project, Rüdiger Lainer and Partner, says the building will be made of 76 percent wood, saving 2,800 tons of carbon when compared to a similar concrete structure. Obviously, the creation of a wood building, especially a tall one, has people worrying about the elephant in the room: Fire. Since the building would be unprecedented, the Vienna fire service is reportedly working very closely with the architects to make sure everything is up to code and then some. “They have to carry out special tests on the correct combination of concrete and wood," a spokesperson for the fire service told the Guardian. "We also want to develop a more fail-safe sprinkler system. I expect they will pass the tests but if they develop the building as they say they will, it will be a serious project.” While somewhat counterintuitive, timber can actually be quite resistant to fire. As Bentley explained: "Heavy timber and cross-laminated timber actually have built-in fire protection; dense wood will burn slowly, charring instead of catching fire all at once. Part of bringing a wood building up to code is providing enough wood so that even after fire produces a 'char layer,' there is still enough left to support the structure."
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MVRDV’s twisting tower in Vienna looks like it might snap in half

MVRDV, the Dutch firm known for dreaming up dramatic designs, has stayed true to form with its latest project: a 360-foot-tall twisting tower in Vienna. The structure appears like a standard-issue modern glass tower that has been grabbed at its top and then violently twisted. The result—ten rotating, slightly cantilevering floor plates—creates what the architects describe as a "curving waist." The tower is said to have an "elegant, hourglass figure," but appears more like a top-heavy structure ready to snap.   Giving the building a "waist," as it were, allows MVRDV to create a visually arresting structure that would not blanket surrounding buildings in shadow. The firm also wanted to create a more slender building that would be granted approval to rise above existing height limits. “The site for the tower is directly adjacent to a metro station, and building regulations initially restricted allowable construction to a 250-foot-tall volume, which should be trapezoidal in plan,” said the firm in a statement. “MVRDV proposed a more compact and efficient square layout, which resulted in a taller volume to make up for the reduced footprint.” MVRDV said its tower can be configured for either office or residential use. It is expected to break ground next year. [h/t Gizmag]
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It’s Raining Zaha: Massive piece of Hadid-designed building comes crashing down in Vienna

Until the end of time, people will disagree on the architectural merits of Zaha Hadid's work. Honestly, nobody gets AN's comment section going quite like the Queen of Swoop. But there is one thing that everyone can agree on when it comes to Hadid: pieces of her buildings should not just fall off. But, well, that's exactly what happened this week in Vienna. Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported that a 176-pound piece of concrete cladding came crashing down from Hadid's Library and Learning Centre at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. You would want to write this off as a freak accident, but it's actually the second time a piece of the building has detached since it opened in October 2013. As Die Presse noted, back in July, a roughly 80-pound piece of fiberglass-reinforced concrete took a dive as well. That accident was blamed on "selective assembly error." Contractors are reportedly looking into what caused the latest event and are expected to issue a report on Thursday. In the meantime, the building remains open, but parts of it have been cordoned off. Luckily, nobody was injured in either accident. [h/t FastCo]
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Obit> Hans Hollein, 1934–2014

Pritzker Prize–winning Austrian architect, artist, engineer, and designer, Hans Hollein, has died at the age of 80. Born in Vienna in 1934, Hollein attended the Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture in that city and graduated in 1956. Following graduation he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship, affording him the opportunity to travel to the United States. He did graduate work at the Illinois Institute of Technology and completed his masters degree in architecture at the University of California, Berkeley in 1960. During those years he met and worked with Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Richard Neutra. After graduate school, Hollein worked for architecture firms in the U.S. and Sweden, finally settling back in Vienna in 1965, where he completed his first solo commission, the Retti Candleshop, a small project that nonetheless won him international attention. He went on to design other significant projects, including the Richard L. Feigen Gallery in New York (1967–1969), the jeweler’s shop Schullin I and II (1972–1974, 1981–1982) and the “Section N” furniture shop (1971–1972) in Vienna, the Austrian Travel Agency in the Opernringhof (1976–1978) with its soon renowned ceiling-high brass palms as quotes of travelling, the interior design of the Museum of Glass and Ceramics in Tehran (1977–1978), and the New York branch of the Munich fashion house Ludwig Beck in the Trump Tower (1981–1983). Hollein regarded himself as an artist and theorist who rejected all divisions between the various fields from the very start. He designed art objects, exhibition designs (The Turks at the Gates of Vienna, 1983; Dream and Reality, Vienna 1870–1930, 1985, both in the Künstlerhaus Wien), stage sets (such as for Arthur Schnitzler’s Seduction Comedy at the Burgtheater), furniture, jewelry, door handles, glasses, lamps, and watches (for Alessi, Munari, a.o.). His favorite maxim was, “Everything is architecture.” In 1972, he represented Austria at the Venice Biennale with his installation Work and Behavior, Life and Death, Everyday Situations. He was Austria’s commissioner for the Venice Art Biennale from 1978 to 1990 and commissioner of the Venice Biennale for Architecture in 1991, 1996, and 2000, as well as its director in 1996. As guest professor at numerous American universities, professor at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1967–1976), and head of the masterclasses for industrial design (1976–1979) and architecture (1979–2002) at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna Hollein was also highly esteemed as a teacher. Hollein also designed museums. The Abteiberg Museum in Mönchengladbach (1972–1982) set new standards in the field. The building realized for the Museum of Modern Art Frankfurt (1983–1991) is equally sensational. He also designed the spectacular, prize-winning, yet ultimately unrealized scheme for the Guggenheim Museum in Salzburg’s Mönchsberg (1989). The same was the case with the Guggenheim Museum planned for Vienna (1994–1995). Hollein’s further competition designs include his submissions for the New National Theatre of Japan (1986, second place), the Wald Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (1987–1988, second place), das Compton Verrney Opera House (1988–1989, second place), the Guangdong Museum for Arts and Nature in Guangzhou (2004), the Sheik Zyed National Museum in Abu Dhabi (2007), and the Meixi Lake International Culture and Arts Center in Changsha, China (2011). Hollein’s entire body of work is characterized by the presence of quotations, like the outsized tobacco leaf on the facade of his tobacconist’s front near the Haas House (1991–1994), the palms in the Austrian Travel Agency office, or the often recurring columns, which earned him the "postmodern" label.

Transforming an Austrian Construction Site into a Choreographed Dance

Turns out the biggest construction site in Europe has got some moves. And all it takes to turn 42 cranes into a nimble-bodied dance troupe is some light choreography, a techno beat, and a fair amount of neon lighting.  The dance, or the Krenasee event as it is officially known, took place in Austria last month at the site of a planned 20,000-square-foot suburb called Urban Lakeside Vienna. FilmSpektakel caught the action in all of its glory and put together this impressive time-lapse video. [Via Gizmodo.]
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Small Town, Big Bus Stops: International Architects Convene on Austrian Village for BUS:STOP Project

A slew of internationally-renowned architects have convened on the unlikeliest of sites. Krumbach, Austria, a town of less than 3,000 may soon be the location of bus stops designed by Sou Fujimoto and Pritzer Prize Winner Wang Shu among others. The BUS:STOP initiative is the brainchild of kulturkrumbach which managed to entice the heralded names to participate in a bus stop design project with the promise of a free vacation and little else. Ensamble Studio's contribution to the project (Courtesy kulturkrumbach) Along with Fujimoto and Amateur Architecture Studio (Wang Shu's architectural practice), Alexander Brodsky, Rintala Eggertsson ArchitectsArchitecten de Vylder Vinck TaillieuEnsamble Studio, and Smiljan Radic all made the journey to the eastern Austria meaning that 7 countries and 3 continents are represented in the project. Upon visiting the town each architect designed a prospective bus stop and then presented their models in a separate ceremony. While each was envisioned in miniature, a full scale replica of Chilean architect Radic's structure was manufactured and displayed at the exhibition. Each international designer will be accompanied by a local architect to aid in the realization of each project and foster cultural exchange. By and large the proposals depart from the traditional bus stop form. While the designs seem to vary in plausibility, Fujimoto's offering, featuring a spiral stairway to nowhere and entirely lacking a roof, seems particularly problematic. In spite of its small size, Krumbach is no stranger to contemporary architecture. If they are to be implemented, the BUS:STOP creations will join a series of recently constructed noteworthy structures found in the area, including a sleek Bushaltestelle contributed by Austrian studio Hermann Kaufmann in 2011.
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Student’s Puzzle Facade Project Is an Architecturally-Scaled Game

In his school project, Puzzle Facade, Spanish designer Javier Lloret decided to transform the exterior of an Austrian museum into an interactive piece of architectural entertainment: a giant Rubik’s Cube. Lloret wirelessly connected a 3D-printed handheld cube to a laptop responsible for controlling colors on the facade of a nearby building roughly shaped like a cube: the Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. The building proved to be an ideal canvas for the project as it was already furnished with an LED-lit media facade. The cube is equipped with electronic components enabling it to keep track of its orientation and subsequent rotations. The data is sent wirelessly via Bluetooth to a nearby laptop which runs software specifically designed for the project. The software enables the building to change color each time the handheld interface-cube is moved and twisted. Solving your own Rubik’s cube is difficult enough, but the 3D-printed controller for this larger-than-life version of the game presented even more challenging obstacles. The cube is white, making it harder for those who have memorized the color pattern of a regular Rubik's cube to solve the game. Moreover, due to the location and nature of the building, the player is only able to view two facades at the same time, which increases the difficulty in solving the puzzle. Javier Lloret developed this project as part of his thesis at the Interface Culture master program at the Universitat Kunstlerische and Industrielle Gestaltung Linz.
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2013 Aga Khan Award winners improve quality of life

From an Islamic cemetery in Austria to a 330-meter bridge in North Africa, the five recipients of the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture each address a concern within their culture to improve quality of life. Awarded every three years since its 1977 initiation, the competition grants a collective $1 million to a number of projects that exist in areas with a significant Muslim population. Each project must be culturally receptive and increased merit is given to those that use local resources in ways that may motivate analogous ventures in the future. The 2013 Aga Khan Award winners are as follows: Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Khartoum, Sudan From AK Award and Studio Tamassociati:
The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery consists of a hospital with 63 beds and 300 local staff, with a separate Medical Staff Accommodation Compound sleeping 150 people. The centre is built as a pavilion in a garden with both primary buildings organised around large courtyards. The hospital block is of the highest technical standard with complex functions including three operating theatres optimally placed in relation to the diagnostics laboratories and ward. Mixed modes of ventilation and natural light enable all spaces to be homely and intimate yet secure. Seeing the abandoned containers that had been used to transport construction materials for the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, the architects were inspired to reuse them to house the centre’s staff. Ninety 20-foot containers form the accommodation block, each unit consisting of 1.5 containers, with a bathroom and small veranda facing the garden. Seven 40-foot containers are occupied by a cafeteria and services. Insulation is through an ‘onion system’ of 5-centimetre internal insulating panels and an outer skin comprising a ventilated metal roof and bamboo blinds. A solar farm powers the water-heating system.
Revitalization of Birzeit Historic Centre in Birzeit, Palestine From AK Award and Riwaq - Centre for Architectural Conservation:
This five-year project, part of a rehabilitation master plan initiated by Riwaq, has transformed the decaying town of Birzeit, created employment through conservation and revived vanishing traditional crafts in the process. Community involvement was encouraged from the start, including local NGOs, the private sector, owners, tenants and users, all working with the municipality. Both historic buildings and public spaces have been rehabilitated into community activity hubs. Replaced sections of wall remain distinguishable from the original structures, without harming architectural coherence. Lost features were replaced where there was clear evidence for their former appearance, such as floor tiles with Palestinian motifs. Affordable traditional techniques and local materials were used throughout. Where no historical models were available, new elements were made in a bold contemporary spirit.
Rabat-Salé Urban Infrastructure Project in Morocco From AK Award and Marc Mimram Architecture:
Linking Rabat and Salé to form an urban hub, the Hassan II Bridge and its associated access works relieve both cities’ historic sites and populations of atmospheric and sound pollution. The design respects the overwhelming horizontality of the built and natural environments, allowing Rabat’s 12th-century Hassan Tower to retain its vertical dominance of the skyline. The concrete supports, in subtly varying arced forms, are deliberately delicate and lace-like in appearance. Besides providing transport connections, the structure also offers an urban roof over the alluvial plain of the Bouregreg River, creating a protected public space for markets and leisure activities.
Rehabilitation of Tabriz Bazaar in Tabriz, Iran From AK Award and ICHTO East Azerbaijan Office:
The Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex was officially protected in 1975 and has been covered by special stewardship measures until 2010, when it was added to the World Heritage List. The complex covers 27 hectares with over 5.5 kilometres of covered bazaars. Three different protection areas have been established (a nominated area, a buffer zone and a landscape zone), subject to special regulations incorporated into the planning instruments. The management framework is based on the participation of the ‘bazaaris’, together with municipal authorities and ICHTO’s Tabriz Bazaar Base. Since 2000, numerous complexes within the bazaar have been rehabilitated with the participation of the owners and tenants. Infrastructure has been improved and public facilities have been built.The Tabriz Bazaar is a unique example of urban conservation and development project in which heritage plays a catalyst role in rejuvenating the tangible and intangible memory of the historic city of Tabriz.
Islamic Cemetery in Altach, Austria From AK Award and Bernardo Bader Architects:
The Cemetery serves Vorarlberg, the industrialized westernmost state of Austria, where over eight percent of the population is Muslim. It finds inspiration in the primordial garden, and is delineated by roseate concrete walls in an alpine setting, and consists of five staggered, rectangular grave-site enclosures, and a structure housing assembly and prayer rooms. The principal materials used were exposed reinforced concrete for the walls and oak wood for the ornamentation of the entrance facade and the interior of the prayer space. The visitor is greeted by and must pass through the congregation space with its wooden latticework in geometric Islamic patterns. The space includes ablution rooms and assembly rooms in a subdued palette that give onto a courtyard. The prayer room on the far side of the courtyard reprises the lattice-work theme with Kufic calligraphy in metal mesh on the ‘qibla’ wall.