Do people shape institutions, or do institutions shape people? This question has a strong political dimension, as the case of the USA currently demonstrates. But the conduct of individuals doesn’t only matter on the grand political stage—on the small scale, people’s attitudes are what lend institutions their political direction.
This issue is indebted to two people who have shaped two important institutions, and have thereby shaped architectural discourse of the past decades: Dietmar Steiner, director of the Architekturzentrum Wien (Az W) from 1993 to 2016, and Nikolaus Kuhnert, editor and co-publisher of ARCH+ for the past 45 years. Both of these men conduct architectural politics from a deep conviction that architecture is a political medium. In place of our usual editorial, the issue begins with a conversation with Nikolaus Kuhnert about this approach.
ARCH+ 229 is a cooperation with the Az W to celebrate Dietmar Steiner’s retirement and the 50-year anniversary of ARCH+, which was founded in 1967. Using the 20th Vienna Architecture Congress and the Az W exhibition In the End: Architecture—curated by Karoline Mayer, Sonja Pisarik, and Katharina Ritter—as a basis, the issue not only reflects on the past 50 years of architectural discourse from today’s perspective, but also explores how architecture can be a social practice using contemporary examples from the field.