Article by: Lilli Hollein


Personal Space: Johanna Rachinger on Storage Space

Her character fortunately fits with the organising capacity required from a Director-General of the Austrian National Library: The steadily growing collection comprises 7.5 million books and objects that are archived, preserved and made available across an area of more than 50,000m2.

As space is costly, rolling stack shelves make efficient use of space. An ambient temperature of around 18 -20°C and a relative humidity of 40 - 50% are ideal conditions. "The modern repository library, which stores books in one room while the books are used in other reading rooms, dates back to the 19th century. The books are very pragmatically organised by ascending serial numbers ("numerus currens") and retrieved by means of catalogues. Therefore the catalogues are of vital importance to both librarians and visitors."

As far as new acquisitions and future stocks are concerned, Rachinger is not so much concerned about their storage.


Personal Space: Laurids Ortner on Expanding Space

Architecture was a pioneering discipline that even ventured into territories never explored before: the moon. The arts were shaped by sci-fi fantasy and introduced into architecture a kind of future thinking that left the present far behind. And it was the Haus-Rucker-Co in particular, made up by Laurids Ortner, Manfred Ortner and Günther Zamp Kelp, who engaged in reflections on new cognitive spaces.

"In the late sixties, the Haus-Rucker-Co produced a rather unshapely apparatus, the "Mind Expander": a shell seating two persons, with a fold-down hood made up of a plexiglass dome with an air-borne balloon. Different patterns of blue and red reflecting foils were glued to the two planes of plexiglass and foil casing. For the two viewers, this effect produced an overlapping picture that would jump back and forth depending on the focus. At a time of budding experimentation with hot hallucigenous drugs on a large scale, we wanted to create a device for ‘cold’ expansion of the mind – as a counterpart to the fledgling discoveries in outer space: We wanted to explore our inner, personal space of perception by technical means."


Personal Space: Max Hollein on Exhibition Space

Max Hollein, the 35-year-old director of the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, at the same time director of the Städelmuseum, and director of the Liebighaus from next year, is considered a major protagonist of a new generation on the art and museum scene.

His Schirn Kunsthalle programme has attracted international attention. From "Shopping", where he fills museum halls with an entire supermarket, or "Frequenzen", which is dedicated to experimental contemporary art, to Matisse’s silhouettes and, finally, a reinterpretation of the "Nazarenes", an early 19th century group of artists driven by religion, his exhibitions invariably span a deliberately broad range of subjects.

Managing three different enterprises, each with a different focus, Hollein now covers a spectrum ranging from the Old Masters to the most recent trends in contemporary art.


Personal Space: Paulus Manker on Scenic Space

But this is certainly not Manker’s reason for staging the biographical "Alma – a Show Biz to the End" in many different rooms simultaneously, wherever the production should take place. It is quite the opposite, in fact: The audience even loves to follow him into all the rooms he happens to wander in acting the part of Oskar Kokoschka.

A highly appreciated performer on European stages, Manker has been searching for new solutions to theatrical space over the past few years. Abandoning the conventional chariot-and-pole system, he has consistently taken a more contemporary approach, as evidenced by his productions "Der Vater" (1995) at Theater an der Wien, "F@lco - A Cyber Show" (2000) at Vienna’s Ronacher and, eventually, "Alma" (1996–2005).

Almost obsessively exploring new arenas for his performances of works originally not written for conventional theatres, his extensive searches have invariably led him to unique settings – be it in Vienna, Venice, Lisbon or Los Angeles.


Personal Space: Barbara Imhof on Space Architecture

Her job of planning focuses on the environments architects can provide to people who travel from here to there. Though still a bit utopian, this idea embraces considerations of what people face when departing from "here" to take up residence on the moon, Mars or any other planet. Imhof completed her studies of Architecture by doing a Master’s in Space Studies at the International Space University of Strasbourg. Building on inter-disciplinary collaboration with researchers from a variety of disciplines, she subsequently carried out a number of projects, including for NASA. Together with designer Susmita Mohanta, also an expert in outer space, she now heads an architectural studio under the name of "Liquifer".

While the question of living in permanent isolation might have been of widespread interest during the Cold War, when private households were building their own bunkers, space travel has always been a technology-driven engineering task.

Personal Space: Gustav Schörghofer (SJ) on Spiritual Space

Like somebody whose vocation it is to love all human beings as well as God, he describes yet another quality that is typical of spiritual space. "On the one hand, spiritual space is not equivalent to material space – it has not necessarily got to do with architecture but with people and atmosphere. Space with a beautiful atmosphere is a fertile ground for human beings to co-exist harmoniously; it inspires the realisation of dreams, remains open for those who are different, and welcomes strangers. I would find it difficult to perceive a space as being spiritual whose occupants are aggressive."

But there is a spiritual quality also to the environments opening up between physical walls: Gustav Schörghofer refers to the spaces enclosed by churches, industrial buildings or museums, and appreciates that these spaces are indeed capable of giving people new heart.
"Such a building welcomes you, gives dignity rather than exposing us in our insignificance and demonstrating the might of the world around us – as Nazi architecture has shown, for instance – and emphasises the majesty that rests inside every one of us."

Dignity also matters for the way we deal with spaces, for the respect we show for the determinants of spaces and their contents.

Personal Space: Ioan Holender on Spatial Acoustics / Sound Environments

Born in Timisoara, Romania, in 1935, Ioan Holender, Director of the Vienna State Opera House, has been in charge there since 1988.
His long tenure marks an important chapter in a biography of ups and downs in the life of a mechanical engineering student who had to give up his studies for political reasons. In 1959, he left Timisoara heading for Austria, where he studied voice and as such was subsequently hired as a singer. Building on his previous job experience at a talent agency, his job today still proves his good hand for choosing young, gifted artists.

While the quality of a performance is not exclusively due to its artists, quality definitely depends also on the physical environment, the acoustic conditions in particular.

Holender talks about the "mystification of acoustics" as he dwells on a visit to Epidaurus at the same time. Barcelona’s Palau de la Música is equally dear to him as the Grand Hall of the Vienna Musikverein; he appreciates Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw for its excellent acoustics that can be tailored to individual requirements.

Personal Space: Martin Bergmann/EOOS on Poetic Space.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that an exceptionally tall, big Eastern Tyrolian such as Martin Bergmann should claim that places become poetically charged by celebrating and carrying out rituals, so that rooms can be described by ascending and descending poetic curves.

The matter they use to create the non-measurable quality of poetry is often equally intangible: Bergmann talks about light, which can be put to use just like walls, or fog, which EOOS have applied to the A1 lounge
in Vienna’s Mariahilferstraße: there, a façade animated by sequential wafts of mist transmits a feeling of transcendency.

Transformation is another factor that lends poetry to spaces. "Different aggregate states for different needs: An environment that is transformed in response to the situation, with properties such as the day and night sides of objects. Spaces are like tools used by people to translate their needs into reality."

Personal Space: Claus J. Raidl on Meeting Space

Long tables in law offices illustrate the distances existing between the parties, the backroom of the Italian restaurant in Chicago suggests that there must be a skeleton in the closet. Ken Adams’ design for the War Room setting in Stanley Kubrick’s "Dr. Strangelove" has considerably affected popular conceptions about a room in which decisions of worldwide impact are made; indeed, it has left such an impression on people’s minds that Ronald Reagan is said to have been looking for that (imaginary) setting immediately after taking up office.

No doubt being one of Austria’s most successful business managers, Claus J. Raidl can afford to do without any stagecraft.

After going public ten years ago, followed by full privatisation in 2003, the highly successful Styrian-Swedish stainless steel producer Böhler-Uddeholm, originally an ÖIAG state enterprise, has become a veritable Austrian showpiece.

When chairman of the Board Claus J. Raidl enters a meeting room, he is usually in the lucky position to offer attractive figures.

Personal Space: Hermann Maier about Mental Space

And yet surprisingly, the first thing that comes to his mind when asked about space are the melancholic songs by the duo "Zweiraumwohnung" from Berlin, who fascinate growing audiences with Latino and Bossa Nova rhythms, combined with German texts.

Hermann Maier is Austria’s preferred phenomenon.
He just keeps getting back on his feet again and again – whether it’s after a motorbike or skiing accident. He continues to win and never complains, without ever resorting to quirky esoteric.

He belongs to the few people who had been written off completely, but whose performance is widely admired and recognised, even in Austria – not surprisingly: triple world champion, double Olympic champion, four-times overall world cup winner, with 50 single world cup victories. The impressive success story of a ski racer internationally known as the "Herminator", for whom mental space is far more emotional than space to fall and space in the finish.
With mental space, Maier associates feelings, friends and high spirits.