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The Kunsthaus Graz: A New Stitch in an Old City's Fabric - Essay Example

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Metropolis The Kunsthaus Graz: A new stitch in an old city’s fabric Introduction The Kunsthaus Graz is a new and controversial exhibition space currently used as an arts and culture center focused on contemporary arts (Bogner, 11). The structure has created an interesting tension in the city’s architectural aura…
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The Kunsthaus Graz: A New Stitch in an Old Citys Fabric
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Download file to see previous pages Yet, like an adoring mother, perhaps the creators would not realize it if their “friendly alien” was actually functioning as a bullying monster. In any case, though the nature of the Kunsthaus Graz’s discordance with the surroundings may be disputable, the dialogue that it highlights and the questions that it forces us to ask are in themselves a grand cultural contribution -- perhaps even one that is greater in scope and purpose than the museum’s non-existent permanent collection. This essay examines the complex aesthetic and physical interaction between the Kunsthaus Graz and it’s surrounding environment. Analysis: City and Context The Kunsthaus relates to the historical city fabric by contrasting with it entirely. For all the traditional architectural and design elements of the historic city, there seems to be an architectural counterpoint put forth by the Kunsthaus Graz. Graz is the second largest city in Austria. The area of the city was already settled in the early Middle Ages, and it received town rights towards the first half of the thirteenth century (“Graz”). Today, the many buildings in Graz range in age and architectural style from gothic to contemporary; that is to say, Graz has a serious historical timeline. In point of fact, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. The building is the result of a competition-winning design by a group called Spacelab. This modern and in many ways innovative museum was built in 2003, the year during which Graz was the EU’s official “Cultural Capital of Europe” (Stangl) because of its historical significance. In fact, it is well known that the inner city of Graz is one of the best preserved of the old cities in Europe. So, from its very inception the Kunsthaus Graz acted as a blatant counterpoint to the rest of the city’s cultural and historical presence. The Kunsthaus Graz is actually a compound consisting of several parts that are closely interwoven. Primarily, there is the prominent plastic bubble perched on a somewhat conventional steel frame. Slashing through the upper part of the eastern face of the bubble is the city-viewing platform, and on (under) this same side is the BIX media facade. This main complex is additionally linked to the Thienfield Palace, one of Austria’s first steel structures (Cook and Fournier, 3) and two further historical buildings. The blob of the main building surrounds and almost engulfs its venerable neighbors. This conglomeration of historical and groundbreaking contemporary elements composes the museum compound and sets the stage for the concept of the exhibition space as well as the architecture. Cook and Fournier stated that, “the measured facades of the traditional Austrian buildings act as music bars upon which the new form is composed” (Cook and Fournier, 6). This image provides much insight into the imposing presence of the structure in its surrounding environment. Clearly, it was not meant to fit into the surroundings, but it was composed with them in mind. The Kunsthaus Graz is full of such interesting contradictions. It is a starkly modern structure that hovers in the midst of a historical landmark. It is a museum that defies the museum tradition? it will not hold a permanent collection, but instead will be a forum for continually changing contemporary exhibitions. The BIX media facade, which is made up of just under a thousand light-rings is at once unprecedented and extremely low-tech. And yet, all of these ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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