Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Kunst Haus - Graz, Austria
I would say this is probably the most memorable piece of architecture that I've seen on my travels. It was designed by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, both London based architects. The thing that struck me most about this building was the way it drastically contrasted with it's setting. The reflective panels create distorted displays of the surrounding traditional Austrian architecture when stood up close and its looks so odd and obvious amongst the panoramic view of the town from afar. The alien-esque character of the space lab fits in with it's presence in the setting; it represents the future and the possibilities that are ahead of us. Its plexiglass skin is a media fa├žade which can be changed electronically and has protrusive skylight openings.

"The aesthetic dialogue between the new biomorphic structure on the bank of the Mur and the old clock tower is the trade-mark of a city aiming to create a productive tension between tradition and avant-garde"

"In terms of urban design, the building is intended to have a major impact on the regeneration of the western half of the city which has until now been relatively underprivileged compared to the Eastern side which contains the major public buildings, universities and museums. Cultural institutions, particularly museums of modern art, have the remarkable ability, if made appealing to the public, such as the Pompidou centre in Paris, the Guggenheim in Bilbao or the Tate Modern in London - also located on the “wrong” side of the river - of acting as powerful catalysts of change and symptoms of this urban transformation are already noticeable."

Kunst Haus Graz hosts international exhibitions of multi-disciplinary modern and contemporary art. The particularity of the Kunsthaus Graz is that it is not intended to house a permanent collection.

The Kunst Haus features a slow moving travelator that transports visitors around the galleries and gives the sense of being penetrated through the outer skin.

Colin Fournier - “The friendly alien swallows everything with its travelator. It is like a giant Hoover, like the belly of the whale, evoking the distant memory and unconscious desire that we have, since childhood, of being swallowed by the dragon, the subtle pleasure we experience when licked by the family cat’s sandpaper tongue. It is the black whole of the whale’s stomach, where one can find all sorts of things: old boots, lost treasures, bewildered fish, Jonas himself: that’s what a museum has to be, a place that plays on our desire to find ourselves in the company of surprising and unexpected things, bizarre confrontations, things that sometimes are not yet quite fully digested."

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