For the 17th international architecture exhibition – la biennale di Venezia 2021, Austria is creating a platform of debate around how we envision the architecture of the future. In fact, the Austrian contribution, entitled “Platform Austria”, curated by Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer, seeks to articulate the profound changes established by the development of digital platforms in our built environment.
Exploring the phenomenon of platform urbanism, the Austrian contribution to the 2021 Venice Biennale, tackles the development of our cities associated with the rise of platform urbanism, transforming the pavilion itself into a platform for active critical engagement with the potentials of the future and its architecture. Curated by Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer, both founding directors of the Centre for Global Architecture, the pavilion investigates the role digital platforms could play in the future, asking questions such as “Will they assume a higher status than cities, and how will these two organizational models relate to one another? Are we seeing the rise of a “platform urbanism” for which virtual connections are more important than our lives in real space? Will the urban space dissolve into island-like zones in which only fragments of social exchange remain?”
Digital platforms such as Facebook, Google and Amazon are increasingly permeating all areas of our lives and beginning to dissolve old orders and structures. Until now the built form of cities has been regarded as the organizational structure best suited to the fulfilment of public tasks. This is witnessed not least by the ongoing growth of metropolitan cities. […] Platforms are increasingly determining the character of our coexistence, our economy, our health and education systems and our culture. They are forming powerful monopolies whose most important resource is our participation. However, this participation is highly restricted, as many people are experiencing first hand in the current COVID-19 crisis. – Excerpt from the Austrian Pavilion’s description.
The Pavilion takes on one of the most controversial topics of discussion in the field of architecture: Platform urbanism. Through PLATFORM AUSTRIA, the curators “are reclaiming the right to co-determination of the basic conditions governing these developments”. Adapting the format to the on-going situation, the debate aims to be as broad and focused as possible, although the original exhibition concept relied heavily on the political power of physical presence. In fact, the altered concept “will utilize the power of images and signs in order to generate a communicative presence and to facilitate urgently required discussions”. Keeping the same goal, the platform will keep its collaborative search for the architecture we would like to see in the future.
Peter Mörtenböck is Professor of Visual Culture in the Architecture Faculty at the TU Wien and Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His current work focuses on urban speculation, global resource consumption and new data publics. Helge Mooshammer works on urban and cultural research at the TU Wien and is also a Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He has initiated numerous international research projects around issues relating to (post-)capitalist economies and urban informality. Both curators are founding directors of the Centre for Global Architecture, an interdisciplinary platform for the study of global changes in the contemporary production of architecture and cities.
- Commissioner: Federal Ministry, Republic of Austria, Arts,
- Culture, Civil Service and Sport
- Curators: Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer Centre for Global Architecture
- Curatorial assistant: Carmen Lael Hines Centre for Global Architecture
- Research team: Christian Frieß, Pieter de Cuyper, Lovro Koncar-Gamulin, Julius Bartz, Ruth Köchl, Centre for Global Architecture
- Spatial concept: Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer
- Design: mostlikely sudden workshop
- Project and production management: Katharina Boesch, Viktoria Pontoni, section.a
- Visual communication: Christof Nardin, Bueronardin
- Online-platform programming: Philipp Daun