Kunsthaus Graz

Designed by Sir Peter Cook together with Colin Fournier and won in an open international competition. It houses major art installations, usually designed specifically for the Kunsthaus.

Its much-discussed form and layered skin was developed together with Professor Klaus Bollinger and a full size section of the building featured at the Venice Biennale of 1998. Despite its unconventional form and materiality it was completed within 2% of the standard cost of a foursquare public building of similar volume.

The plan form follows a simple fluid occupancy of the available plot and from the busiest corner there runs a thin travelator up into the unknown spaces above. The principal exhibition spaces are therefore treated as a ‘secret’ to be revealed as you glide up into them.

The entrance lies under the Eisernes Haus, the earliest cast-iron structure in southern Austria. The skin of the building is generally opaque but with occasional slivers of translucency. At night the 920 small light rings can illuminate across 100 grades of intensity and animate the outer (acrylic) skin with programmes of every kind.

Within the ‘bubble’ shape lie two floors of very tuneable gallery space: free of columns and interruptions. Above these ‘secret’ spaces there is a ling sliver of exposed room that cantilevers out from the bubble and aligns to the River Mur, below. This reveals the City of Graz and the foothills of the Alps and the varietous nature of Graz’ architecture.

In its first ten years the building has been extensively filmed and published, appeared on postage stamps,

chocolate bars and is used by the Austrian Government to signify ‘Austria : land of the old and the new’.