Form Follows Rule

The Viennese Architekturzentrum shows an exhibition which at first sight might appear a bit uninspiring but of which non-architects tend to forget how central it is for contemporary architecture: building regulations. The curatorial team around  Martina Frühwirth, Karoline Mayer and Katharina Ritter manages to present this matter in an appealing and participatory manner.

Case studies and international comparisons render  these laws easier to comprehend. Also their psychological dimension becomes clear as one approaches the model for standard step heights in official buildings, slightly reminding of Kafka. Of course, most of the building regulations shall guarantee safety and compatibility (nearly none of the Viennese architectural pearls could have been built today). Still, some of them tend rather towards vexatiousness: Who – for instance – could determine how much early-morning bakery fragrance is reasonable? This example on the other hand shows another of the regulations´ tasks, which is to determine the distance between people especially in metropolitan areas. Apparently architects have to work and move between narrow margins of norms and rules and their work often is to fathom out the largest space of interpretation.

An exhibition that helps us realise the vast amount of standards and regulations in our everyday lives and poses fundamental questions concerning architecture and its role in society.

Julia Maurer



Architekturzentrum Wien
Museumsplatz 1
1070 Wien


Header: Wäre dieser fantastische Spielplatz heute noch möglich?, WIG 74, Kurpark Oberlaa, Bild: MA 42 - Wiener Stadtgärten
1-3: Ausstellungsansicht „Form folgt Paragraph“, Bild: Lisa Rastl
4: Sobald Änderungen am Bestand vorgenommen werden, gilt aktuelles Recht, Bild: Andreas Ledl