WALTZING THE EXPO: Finalist, Austrian Pavilion architecture competitionTHE INFINITE BALLROOM: The waltz and its spatial setting in the Austrian pavilion are to serve as as an island of relaxation and recreation within the bustling and hectic environment of the World Expo in Shanghai. The waltz serves as a source for refeshment, catalyst for communication, a good mood stimulant and puts the visitor in an almost unreal and trance-like condition. This production of a typical Austrian condition of „real virtuality“ (the co-existance of dream and reality) is chosen as the main topic of the architectural concept. 4 parallel mirrors, as seen and often used in historical examples in Viennese cafes or by Adolf Loos, produce an infinite reality. They establish the infinite ballroom as the appropriate spatial container for the world’s largest waltz dancing school.
MIRRORED SEQUENCE: The fascination for the couple dance is based on the conception that usually one partner performs the mirrored dance sequence of the other partner. One partner is the mirror image of the other, however the couple is always more than the mere sum of its parts. The couple is a harmonious whole, just as Yin and Yang form a harmonious unit in chinese philosophy. The pavilion project tries to translate the ideas of mirroring, doubling and multiplication that are immanent to the waltz into a spatial concept of extension and multiplication.
SPATIAL INFINITY: The idea of the extension of space and the illusion of infinity is anchored in European architectural history. One can find many applications in Austrian tradition and architecture. So, for example the mirror gallery in Schoenbrunn palace presents an important example for the feudal baroque concept of spatial extension with the use of mirrors. In civic everyday culture in Austria one can find the concept’s successful application in the world of theatre as well as in the Viennese cafe culture. The Cafe Prueckel, Cafe Demel and Cafe Schwarzenberg are good examples for the use of mirrored walls to achieve the described effects. Furthermore, the American Bar by Adolf Loos is the by far best example for the virtual extension of space with the strategic use of mirrors.
CHINESE WALTZ: In addition, waltzing, along with other standard dances, is very popular in China - not so much in the context of the ballroom, but as an open-air activity in public spaces such as parks. Especially for the elderly it is a popular form of sports. Hence, in addition to its aim to present Austria to the world, the concept of the infinite ballroom could also be seen as a reference or bridge to the host country’s everyday culture.