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Kunsthaus Graz
Spacelab Cook-Fournier

January 12, 2004 /

Graz, Austria

kunsthaus_graz_1.jpgPhoto: Niki Lackner
Courtesy Kunsthaus Graz, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier / LMJ Graz

Located on the banks of the Mur, between the red brick roofs of neighboring historic buildings, the new architectural symbol is locally referred to as the "friendly alien".

The interplay between the new biomorphic structure on the bank of the Mur and the old Clock Tower on the Schlossberg will become the trademark of a city which strives to achieve a productive dialogue between tradition and the avant-garde. With respect both to urban planning and to its purpose, the Kunsthaus functions as a bridgehead at a point where the past and the future meet.

kunsthaus_graz_2.jpg
Photo: Niki Lackner
Courtesy Kunsthaus Graz, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier / LMJ Graz
"Schlossberg-Nozzle"

While the building's interior is meant to inspire its curators as a "black box of hidden tricks", its outer skin is a media facade which can be changed electronically.

/Colin Fournier

Like a bubble of air, the bluish, shimmering skin of the Kunsthaus floats above its glass-walled ground floor. Spanning up to 60 metres in width, the biomorphic construction envelops two large exhibition rooms without additional supports.

From the surface of the acrylic glass outer "skin", strikingly shaped "nozzles" project outwards to admit daylight: they are inclined to the north and thus provide optimum natural lighting.

kunsthaus_graz_3.jpg
Photo: Niki Lackner
Courtesy Kunsthaus Graz, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier / LMJ Graz

The main eastern facade of the Kunsthaus is augmented with an additional architectural concept called BIX which was initiated and developed by the Berlin based architects realities:united.

BIX is a matrix of 930 fluorescent lamps integrated into the eastern Plexiglas facade of the Kunsthaus. Through the possibility to individually adjust the lamp¹s brightness at an infinite variability with 20 frames/second images, films and animations can be displayed.

Thus the original architectural concept of the skin was radically redefined transforming the facade into a low resolution computer display, a "communicative display skin", fusing architecture, technology and information.
The Kunsthaus facade as a display constitutes an extraordinary medium for presenting art and related information transfers.

kunsthaus_graz_4.jpg
Photo: Niki Lackner
Courtesy Kunsthaus Graz, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier / LMJ Graz BIX facade: "Hands Petting"

The glass-walled ground floor contains a bar, a function rooms and various communications amenities as well as the foyer, from which the "Pin", a moving ramp, leads to the upper exhibition rooms.

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Photo: Niki LacknerCourtesy Kunsthaus Graz, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier / LMJ GrazCafé/Bar/Restaurant Les Vipères

kunsthaus_graz_6.jpg
Photo: Niki Lackner Courtesy Kunsthaus Graz, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier / LMJ Graz

Isolated, transparent window areas in the "skin" allow visitors to look out, while the "Needle", a projecting, glass-enclosed structure, offers a spectacular view of the Old Town of Graz from a height of about 16 metres.

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Photo: Niki Lackner
Courtesy Kunsthaus Graz, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier / LMJ Graz
The "Needle"

Functionally and technically, the Kunsthaus meets the most up-to-date requirements for museums on the international loan circuit. Its 11,100m2 of usable space provide everything its managers need to participate in the global exhibition business on the highest level.

kunsthaus_graz_8.jpg
Photo: Niki Lackner
Courtesy Kunsthaus Graz, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier / LMJ Graz

As a multi-disciplinary venue for exhibitions, events and other means of presenting contemporary art, new media, and photography, the Kunsthaus Graz has a complex palette of features and functions.

In the upper storeys, bridges link the 23-meter-high new structure with the "Eisernes Haus" whose cast-iron construction - which is the oldest of its kind in Europe and is classified as a historical monument - was carefully and skilfully renovated as part of the construction work on the Kunsthaus.

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Drawing courtesy Kunsthaus Graz, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier / LMJ Graz
Plan Level 0

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Drawing courtesy Kunsthaus Graz, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier / LMJ Graz
Plan Level 4

Facts about Kunsthaus Graz

Gross floor area:

13,100 m2
Net area: 11,100 m2
Exhibition area: 2,500 m2

Design:
Peter Cook & Colin Fournier
Niels Jonkhans  
Mathis Osterhage  
Marcos Cruz and team   
Nicola Haines   
Karim Hamza   
Anja Leonhäuser
Jamie Norden      

Project management:

Kunsthaus Graz AG
Ernst Pogöschnik   
Andreas Blass
Josef Spindler

Projektion:

Hans Lechner GmbH, Wien&
Hans Lechner Sabine Liebenau

Overall management:

ARGE Kunsthaus Designers: Spacelab Cook - Fournier

Architect:

Architektur Consult, Graz

Structural Engineer:

Bollinger & Grohmann, Frankfurt/M

Project team:

Project Manager:
Dietmar Ott

Design Architect:

Niels Jonkhans

3D-engineering:

Gernot Stangl

Technical Coordination:

Gerhard Eder

Construction Supervisor:

Werner Riedl

Architekten/Ingenieure:

Johanna Digruber
Daniela Fritz
Herbert Hazmuka
Hans Robert Gobli

Client:

Stadt Graz Kunsthaus Graz AG

Peter Cook of Archigram and Colin Fournier, who entered and won the international competition for the Kunsthaus together as "Spacelab", are both professors at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London (UCL).

For the implementation of this project, they have formed a joint venture (the Arge Kunsthaus) including their own Austrian office, Spacelab cook-fournier GmbH, the structural engineering firm Bollinger + Grohmann from Frankfurt, and the Graz firm Architektur Consult ZT GmbH as the local partner. The Arge Kunsthaus is also backed by a large team of technical specialists.

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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