Posts tagged with "Austria":
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.
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.
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.
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.
Small Town, Big Bus Stops: International Architects Convene on Austrian Village for BUS:STOP Project
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.