The Utopian in Context

architecture as we mean it, architecture as the image of a permanently evolving environment of a future advanced society, today constitutes the basic vocabulary in our sociopolitical discussions on evolutionary humanism and could be an initial important step towards objectification and liberation from the authoritarian and pressive party­political abuse of the present day.”


We find ourselves in the 1960s and 70s, the age of the Austrian avant­garde: Günther Domenig and Eilfried Huth are part of an art and architecture scene shaped by Coop Himmelblau, Zünd­Up, Salz der Erde and Klaus Pinter as part of Haus­Rucker­Co and Gustav Peichl. This primarily male circle networks with international positions such as Franco Fonatti, the British architecture group Archi­ gram with Peter Cook and Lebbeus Woods in the USA. Female positions are rare. Angela Hareiter, as part of Missing Link, is one of the few, along with Valie EXPORT.

What unites its members is the desire for a radical break with and rethinking of society in general, and architecture in particular. The built environment is seen as a reflection of the prevailing social conditions and is radically challenged by the groups.

People work in collectives, boundaries between disciplines disappear. Manifestos accompany utopian building projects and megastructures closer to science fiction than architecture in the traditional sense. The transition between design and art is fluid, actionism and performance are part of the projects. Cybernetics becomes a method. The thought experiment and idea come top of the agenda. And yet the Austrian avant­ garde in particular made many things reality. On the one hand, the means are new: new technological developments, new materials and possibilities of production, new mass media.

Apart from the use of new means, those involved (mostly men) also share a new under­ standing of architecture as a medium: architecture becomes detached from the building. Or in Hollein’s words: Everyone is an architect. Everything is architecture.”

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