Ready, set, go! Play a game of human billiards in Haus-Rucker-Co’s giant installation at ARKEN.

8 October 2022 to 26 February 2023


Giant Billiard, Haus-Rucker-Co (Laurids Ortner, Günter Zamp Kelp and Klaus Pinter), 1970/2022. Photo: Frida Gregersen

The rebellious collective Haus-Rucker-Co’s legendary and community-forming installation Giant Billiard has taken over one of ARKEN’s largest exhibition spaces. The installation is a remake of the historic work from 1970: back then, three giant, white billiard balls lay waiting to be pushed around on a 225 sqm mattress that formed the setting for an experimental game of billiards at The Museum of the 20th Century in Vienna. In Giant Billiard the audience becomes part of the game, pieces that fight against or alongside each other depending on how the game develops. Everyone shares one common trait: they are all part of a larger game. They have become team players – maybe even actors. The work remains highly relevant today, a time when many urgently seek a release from entrenched cultural rules and expectations. At ARKEN we are very happy to breathe new life into the work, inviting playful people of all ages to frolic and have fun with the vast opportunities for social interaction found in Haus-Rucker-Co’s Giant Billiard.

Giant Billiard, Haus-Rucker-Co (Laurids Ortner, Günter Zamp Kelp and Klaus Pinter), Vienna, 1970. photo: © Almut Imlau, courtesy Archive Zamp Kelp

The utopia of play

The 1960s called for radical change, and the Viennese group Haus-Rucker-Co was born in the wake of this upheaval. Three architects, Laurids Ortner, Günter Zamp Kelp and Klaus Pinter, formed the cooperative in 1967; they were later joined by Manfred Ortner. Engaging with the general public, the group wanted to challenge the often-limiting general perceptions of space, to break down existing hierarchies of power and create new utopian urban spaces. Inflatable oases, futuristic masks, edible urban landscapes and giant billiard balls were to increase the viewer’s awareness of the power of sensuous experience, a faculty increasingly dulled and forgotten by the stimuli of consumer society. Taking their starting point in the Situationists’ ideas about play as a vehicle for change, Haus-Rucker-Co turned realities upside down and created poignant food for thought for subsequent generations of artists. Haus-Rucker-Co no longer exists as a collective, but regarded as a practice the group’s experiments remain relevant, resonating with our ever-increasing focus on the environment and social art.

The ‘house-movers’

The newly graduated sixties architects named their budding project after the region ‘Hausruck’ in Austria. The dual meaning of the word ‘Hausruck’ would prove an apt description of the group’s practice: it can be taken to mean ‘house-move’, a ‘ruck’ being a sudden jerk or pull. On the one hand, the collective wanted to introduce a new architectural concept through their innovative installations, and on the other hand they also wanted to create works that were changeable and mutable. However, the last part of their name, ‘Co’, was perhaps the most important of all: signifying their essential nature as a cooperative and how a collective spirit was the core of their ideology, permeating their practices and works.


It was for us always about perception. So, I have something to touch, something to look at, and something to hear. Through all of these elements we experience something new. This input of the unexpected is a moment of innovation or revolution.



Environment Transformer, Archive Zamp Kelp. Photo: Gerald Zugmann <[email protected]> Vienna 1970

Visit Giant Billiard

The installation Giant Billiard explores the social potential in play and experimental architecture. ARKEN is inviting all guests above 120 cm to participate. At times, there will be many guests who want to participate in Giant Billiard. Due to safety precautions, there is a limit of 15 persons allowed in the installation at a time and waiting time might occur. Please follow the safety instructions listed below and in the exhibition space to make sure everyone has a fun and safe experience. During the timeslots 10:30-11 and 11:30-12 on weekdays the installation will be reserved for prebooked school classes and

Practical information and safety

– You must be at least 120 cm tall
– Maximum 15 participants at a time
– Pregnant, elderly and physically disabled people should not use the installation
– Children under the age of 18 must be supervised by an adult
– Do not get too close to the edges of the mattress as this may cause falls
– Do not use the ropes for support. The ropes only serve to keep the balls on the installation
– Participation is at your own risk
– Shoes and loose accessories are not allowed. Use the grey boxes in the gallery (storage at your own risk) or the lockers in the museum’s cloakroom at the main entrance