The adaptation of Palais Coburg revealed the archaeological secret lying dormant in its cellars: the largest surviving traces of Vienna's Renaissance fortifications. This dramaturgical concept interprets the walls' symbolic filtering of the outside reality from the inside illusion and the centuries-long physical, sociocultural, and psychological effect on the “City of Dreams”. Built upon the Braunbastei in 1840, the palace preserved a labyrinth of hidden tunnels, massive defensive walls, and a cavernous barrel-vaulted hall, vital clues in a biography retouched by the Ringstrasse make-up. The subterranean DNA combines with digital and analog installations to articulate a mental map of the entire defensive system for the visitors’ discovery of Invisible Vienna.

The two-faced mirror depicts the "wall" as a border and bridge, an import-export interface, and simultaneous window/filter of "otherness". Consisting of a row of back-to-back touchscreens, the extractions from the biographies of "inside" and "outside" personalities contextualizes the confrontation of cultures, religions, and politics that occurred at the walls throughout history. A GIS-mapping terminal developed by the MA7 city archaeologists portrays the overlapping layers of defensive fortifications, from the Roman settlement Vindabona to Hitler's decentralized network of flak towers.

 

In the 12-meter-high Wallhall the opposing big-screen 3D visualisations recreate two revealing periods in the Braunbastei’s history: the Turkish Siege of 1683 and Life on the Promenade in 1845. Complementing a sensitive restoration of the great barrel-vaulted hall, the seventeenth-century city plan is recessed into the new floor construction to relate the former walls to the existing streets and monuments. Bastionets – interactive islands extruded from the floorplan – provide detailed information about the visualizations and other stories related to the bastions. A city wall infopoint at the exit offers further information to encourage independent explorations of Invisible Vienna out in the city.

 

 

Research, dramaturgy, and design of concept book for the Vienna Stadtarchaeologie Dept. (MA7)
Project concept commissioned by Nofrontiere Design, Vienna