The Kusthaus offers a rotund, laughing, winking face to the city of Graz. The straightforward entry is followed by a tantalizing element – the travelator that invites you into the unknown. The mystery deepens in the dark, magic space, further up the building another travelator – and more tantalization– and then the release out onto the ‘needle’ that reveals a stunning view over the city.
The building functions as a public gallery for major art exhibitions and installations and as the headquarters of the “Camera Austria’ organization. Recently the Graz ‘House of Architecture’ has moved alongside. It also provides an underground car park in association with the department store Karstner & Ohler.
The outwardly visible skin consists of 1300 different shaped panels made from thermoplastic material mounted on space-holders. Open-jointed to permit thermal expansion and the escape of warm air to the outside. In the space between the panels and the steel roof covering lie technical installations including the BIX façade, the automatic sprinkling system and the fire detection system. Under these the rainwater can drain away. Within the inner skin membrane are sealed plastic sheets glued to thermal insulation. The entire construction rests on a structural framework of welded steel beams. Technical systems such as air conditioning, electrical and data cabling are installed between supporting members. The final, inner layer towards the exhibition room is an inner skin of finely woven wire fabric.
The completion of such a complex building in just over two years and virtually on budget is a result of the intense use of computer technology allied to a brilliant regional ‘craft’ and ‘experiment’ tradition. The use of Rhino modelling, computer-cutting of infinitely variable sheet sizes and day-to-day tracking led to very few technical hiccups in a building process involving 27 sub-contractors and parallel design nodes operating from London, Frankfurt, Munich and Graz.
RIBA European Award 2004
Shortlisted RIBA Stirling Prize 2004
Shortlisted Mies Van Der Rohe Prize 2005
The Architecture+Technology Award of Messe Frankfurt 2006
TYPE: Public art gallery
CLIENT: Landesmuseum Joanneum
LOCATION: Graz, Austria
BUDGET: 40.000.000 Euros
DESIGN TEAM: Sir Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, London
STRUCTURE: Klaus Bollinger, Frankfurt/Vienna
TECHNICAL SYSTEMS: Klaus Daniels, Munich
BIX FAÇADE: Realities United, Berlin
ASSOCIATED ARCHITECTS: Architektur Consult, Graz, Niels Jonkhens, Deitmar Ott, Peter Locker.
STATUS: Competition won in 2000 and completed in 2003
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