VO Architectural Theory / Bart Lootsma

02 1st, 2022

Radical Austria, Alles ist Architektur

The experimental work of Austrian architectural collectives and designers from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s has been called the “Austrian Avant-Garde.”

The lecture Architecture Theory M is dedicated to the consciousness-expanding, boundary-pushing and socially critical work of these designers.

Accepting no boundaries of definitions and disciplines, they created buildings, environments, objects, fashion, performances, furniture, and even experiences.

Works by groups like Coop Himmelb(l)au, Haus-Rucker-Co, Zünd-Up and independent designers and artists like Walter Pichler, Hans Hollein and VALIE EXPORT are a reaction to social and technological developments, but also to the Austrian context. What distinguishes the Austrian Avant-Garde from their Italian and British contemporaries is that their designs often go beyond the conceptual phase. Many works have actually been executed and allow to experience how new technologies will change the world in the near future.

Taking their lead from Hans Hollein’s saying, ‘Everything is architecture,’ he and his Austrian contemporaries shape their vision of the world in all sorts of ways: from inflatable shelters to performances, from fashion to furniture, and from television shows to cities of the future. Early on, they begin experimenting with cybernetics, space travel, drugs, media, and gender. Finding inspiration in pop culture, they often organize themselves as improvising collectives, along the lines of psychedelic rock groups.

The combination of experimentation and analysis makes the Austrian Avant-Garde one of the most radical movements of the time. Their themes are still relevant today:
The examination of the relationship between man and machine, communication versus isolation, and the desire to create personal bubbles. The visions of these activist designers were often forward-looking rather than backward-looking, forcing us to face the future once again.


Lectures will be published as podcasts on the website, under Lectures, AT M SM 2022.

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