As in many European cities, Vienna faces the challenge of striking a careful balance between history and modernity. On the one hand, the historic city centre and its famous architectural ensembles and edifices is synonymous with home for the city’s inhabitants and draws more than fifteen million tourists from across the world every year. On the other hand, Vienna continues to grow in the same manner as many other cities worldwide, where local traditions barely play a role and are predominantly replaced by interchangeable architectural projects.
This field of unresolved tension is the starting point for BEHF’s search for architectural expression, in which new and existing melt together into something autonomous. With unmistakably Viennese charm, the architects call their strategy “Wiener Gemischter Satz” (Viennese Field Blend) after the Viennese wine speciality that uses an assortment of grape varieties to achieve a more varied profile. By way of illustration, the architects have chosen Caneletto’s famous painting “The View of Vienna from the Upper Belvedere” (1758 – 1761). Although it was commissioned by Empress Maria Theresa, in order to depict a staged city panorama where the Austrian capital’s landmarks have been arranged to look their most stunning, it continues to serve as a benchmark for urban planning in Vienna up to this day.
Against this backdrop, the exhibition addresses the question of the contemporary relationship between material and identity on the basis of ten projects by BEHF. Large-scale material samples represent the carefully selected material palette, chosen according to the best Viennese traditions, that gives each of BEHF’s projects its own distinct identity. A film-like collage of drawings and photographs accompanies the composition, alongside quotations from various actors whose work is both closely linked to the city of Vienna and its typical characteristics.
BEHF was founded in Vienna in 1995 by Armin Ebner, Susi Hasenauer and Stephan Ferenczy. Their projects include the residential complex Citycom 2 (Vienna, 2010), the Icon Towers (Vienna, 2018, in collaboration with JSWD) and the Orchideea Towers (Bucharest, 2018). Current projects include the conversion of the former ERSTE Bank Zentrale (Vienna).