30.11.2019 Arian Lehner

Kampf der Ideologien: Ausstellung »Kalter Krieg und Architektur«

Exhibition "Cold War and Architecture" © Architekturzentrum Wien, photograph: Lisa Rastl

The Battle of Worldviews
In the current exhibition, the Architekturzentrum Wien is presenting new findings related to the city’s architectural development from 1945 until 1955. Director Angelika Fitz draws our attention to a blind spot in the history of Vienna - one that has, until now, received little consideration. The occupied Vienna of the post-war era became the scene of a power play among the Allies, a competition for each to promote its respective worldview in the rebuilding of a new, democratic Austria. The visions that arose included a city of communal living and one of single-family dwellings, a Vienna of garden cities and one of high-rises.

Ideological Concepts for Vienna
More than 1,000 exhibits tell a story of the differing intentions for Vienna that were espoused by each occupying power.
For instance, the British tried to promote a third way between communism and capitalism with their concept of a democratic welfare state. Their restructured, more relaxed Vienna was to be characterized by planned communities and neighbourhood districts. In contrast, France planned to launch a cultural offensive deliberately aimed at the city’s élite and youth. In 1948, Le Corbusier visited the Austrian capital and presented his radical visions concerning architecture and urban development. These ideas were enthusiastically taken up by the young architecture scene, if not by postsecondary institutions.The American occupying forces imported their expertise in housing construction to Austria and erected model districts such as the one in Vienna’s Veitingergasse (1952-1954). In keeping with the American way of life, they invested in private homes and apartment buildings for working people, but not in social housing.
With their firm belief in technical progress, the Soviets’ plan for Austria involved a socialist utopia featuring skyscrapers and apartment complexes.

Box versus Gallery Theatre
The various political concepts extended even to the auditorium of the Vienna State Opera House. For its reconstruction, the Americans favoured the historical box-style theatre, while the Soviets were for a democratic, egalitarian gallery style. In the end, the Western vision prevailed, with boxes reserved for companies such as Ford, Philips and Mercedes, which can be seen at the exhibition, which shows the large seating plan for the new State Opera House.

The Exhibition Cold War and Architecture will run until 24 February 2020.

Poster of the exhibition "Cold War and Architecture. Contributions to Austria’s Democratization after 1945" © Graphic design: grafisches Büro

Four in a jeep. Illustration by Epi Schlüsselberger, Georg Schmid © in: Ernst Marboe: Yes. Oui. O.k. Njet, Vienna 1954

Erich Boltenstern in front of the Lever Building in the exhibition 'Moderne Kunst aus USA', Secession, Vienna 1956 © Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection, estate of Herbert Thurner

Wilhelm Schütte: CIAM Bergamo design of Stephansplatz, 1010 Vienna, 1949 © Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection, estate of Oswald Haerdtl

Ferdinand Kitt: Paula-Preradović House, Alpbach, 1951–1958, perspective view of the entrance © Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection, estate of Ferdinand Kitt

Population distribution in the occupied zones of Vienna © United States Forces in Austria, Austria. A Graphic Survey, 1949

Carl Auböck, Roland Rainer: Prefabricated houses Veitingergasse, 1130 Vienna, 1952-1954, prefabricated elements © Carl Auböck Archiv, photograph: USIS

Prader/Fehringer : CIAM project, Quartier Lichtenthal, Vienna, 1945/55, Baukörper Hauptyp © gta Archiv/ETH Zurich, CIAM

Karl Franz Eder, Fitz Weber, Margarethe Schütte-Lihotzky, Wilhelm Schütte: Globus Publishing House, Höchstädtplatz, 1200 Vienna, 1954¬–1955, laying of the foundation stone 20.3.1954 © KPÖ Bildarchiv

Roland Rainer: Red Army Cemetery, Hollabrunn, 1945, Entrance area © Architekturzentrum Wien, Collection, estate of Roland Rainer

Exhibition "Cold War and Architecture" © Architekturzentrum Wien, photograph: Lisa Rastl

Exhibition "Cold War and Architecture" © Architekturzentrum Wien, photograph: Lisa Rastl

Exhibition "Cold War and Architecture" © Architekturzentrum Wien, photograph: Lisa Rastl

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