by Hu Fang
I had been in Vienna for over two months, and it was only today that I visited the Wittgenstein House.
At the side of the street, I finally saw the familiar shape of the building that I had seen numerous times on photographs. Its narrow windows were particularly eye-catching, and its outlines seemed alarmingly clean as it stood in the twilight.
I approached the building and noticed that there was already a huge noisy crowd at the doorway. They were huddled around the front lobby, their hands clutching champagne glasses, as they greeted and chattered on incessantly to one another. Against the vertical iron grills of the door and windows, the whole scene looked a little like it was set in the common area of a prison. I opened the door and my ears were assaulted by the buzzing conversations; I deliberately let my touch linger on the legendary solid and unyielding stainless steel doorknobs, and felt its exceptionally cold calmness.
Thanks to the film screening invitation, I found out that the Bulgarian consulate was now located in the Wittgenstein House. I noticed that the small room on the left of the entrance had been refurbished into a security kiosk—the old fellow in the kiosk had been keeping alert while observing the surroundings. The screening room was on the right side of the front hall. The original rooms—initially kept separate—have been revamped into a space for exhibitions and public events. The guests began to filter into the seats, as I stood in the corner and continued to watch the lively crowd.
The form and layout of the Wittgenstein House had demonstrated the simplicity of its spatial concept, because you could clearly see the rationale behind the relationship between the modules and their placements, as well as how Wittgenstein had transformed philosophical language into an architectural one replete with paranoia and wit; yet what I see now is a clamorous social setting—one not unlike a dinner banquet in an...