Jul 21–Sep 11, 2022

Boden für Alle

Mariahilferstrasse 2, Graz 8020 Map
Tue–Sun 10 am–6 pm

The earth's surface is a finite resource, and soil is our most precious commodity. Careless or capital-driven treatment of this resource has massively changed the shape and function of our towns and villages in recent decades. In view of the threat of a climate catastrophe and rising housing prices, the question arises as to whether the current path, with maximum compromises and minimum adaptation, is still sustainable. An extensive and courageous land policy is called for. But where is it?

The progressive urban sprawl into the countryside has been the subject of discussion for decades. Meanwhile, everybody in Austria could be housed in the single-family homes that already exist [1] although yet more land is still being approved for building on, new shopping centres are going up on greenfield sites and whole chalet villages in the Alps. Progressive sealing of the surface is contributing to the climate crisis and endangering food security. Speculation with land is increasing housing prices and leading to a creeping privatisation of public space. Weak or unenforced spatial planning regulations, a partly misguided tax law and subsidy system, and despondent policies perpetuate the status quo instead of developing a vision for the future.

"We all want good food, beautiful villages, a natural environment, a thriving economy and lively cities. We want cheap and spacious housing, to be mobile and independent. Most of these desires are understandable and yet these desires carry tremendous conflicts of interest," stated the curators of the exhibition Karoline Mayer and Katharina Ritter. With the exhibition “Land for Us All”, the Architekturzentrum Wien wants to make the many forces visible that are tearing at our land. The exhibition shows that we have created a system that necessarily presupposes land consumption.

The exhibition explains the political, legal and economic background clearly and vividly, critically and sometimes inadvertently absurdly. How does rural land become building land? Why is the price of land rising? What does all this have to do with our lives and dreams? Case studies and explanations of the relevant terminology bring light into the thicket of responsible agents involved. International comparisons illustrate strengths and weaknesses;¬ international examples of best practice show alternative approaches. A collection of existing and feasible new tools points the way to spatial planning that conserves land as a resource, mitigates climate change, helps with housing issues and facilitates good architecture. We are all being called upon to think and act along new lines – and this exhibition is preparing the way.

The exhibition ‘Land for Us All’ is accompanied by a comprehensive and lavishly illustrated catalogue with essays by: Saskia Sassen, Gerhard Senft, Vandana Shiva, Robert Temel and Gerlind Weber. Available at the HDA.

In addition to the Az W exhibition, the HDA is showing the documentary film ‘Viel verbautes Österreich’ by Hanno Settele from the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF 1). In this filmed research, Settele reports on the struggle for land and the controversial issue of zoning. Every day almost twelve hectares of land become built up in Austria – a peak value in Europe. However, we cannot do without building. His journey through Austria illustrates the complexity of the challenges surrounding land consumption, the creation of new housing and new jobs, but also that not every square metre of grassland has to be lost.