Crystal Talk
Text: Oliver ElserPhotos: Paul Ott


Profil Innocad


Names, what names! When, in the mid-1990s, a young generation of architecture studios set about ousting the Peichls, Holleins and Holzbauers of this world, there was an avalanche of strange group names: The Poor Boys Enterprise, SPLITTERWERK and propeller z were the first to emerge, followed by querkraft, AllesWirdGut, L.O.V.E., pool, Caramel, feld72 and Innocad. And things are getting even wackier as regards studios currently being founded, with the groups adopting such names as Heri&Salli, raumhochrosen, morgenbau, hobby a, gaupenraub, noncon:form, SOFA, and archiguards.

And you wouldn’t be wrong if you associated them with Pop bands because several of these "youngsters" first drew attention to themselves through parties and events. Which has a long-standing tradition: Coop Himmelblau and Haus-Rucker-Co (which later became Ortner & Ortner), as well as Zamp Kelp got going by means of happenings. Yet while it took a good decade for them to be able to swap the art scene for the tough construction industry, the current generation is getting established in the world of structural calculations and detailed planning far more quickly. Is this due to the comparatively favorable economic situation or the fact that they all set themselves far more realistic goals than the super heroes of the 1968 generation?

Both is the case. And there is also an additional factor: Austria is a small country. In the Netherlands and Switzerland as well this favored the emergence of a tightly- knit, networked architectural scene. And the boom in wooden buildings in the Vorarlberg region was only possible in a social environment where everyone knew everyone else. Back then those former pupils of Roland Rainer, the leading light in post-War Austrian Modernism, who had gone back to the "provinces", supplied the decisive impulse. Nowadays, if anything, it is the other way round. From all corners of the country young people are moving to Vienna to study, and stay, the concentration of further education facilities and other institutions being as great as the remaining cultural scene that for most of them is the source of inspiration for their work. The building sites, however, are to be found all over the country: Anybody wanting to see a building designed by AllesWirdGut can do so in South Tyrol and Tyrol, whereas the boy group’s studio itself is in Vienna.

But just what is it that makes forming a group so much more attractive than putting your own individual signature to your own architectural work? At SPLITTERWERK, currently making inroads in international magazines such as domus and a+u with their "Laubfrosch" (tree frog) buildings, there is even a sort of ban on photos of the group members. The collective remains anonymous, retiring behind a faded photo, with the emphasis placed fair and square on the constructed work alone. Not all young architects’ groups are by any means as strict, but they are all skeptical of "artistic architects" such as Hans Hollein, Gustav Peichl, Günther Domenig and Wilhelm Holzbauer, who have dominated the architectural scene in Austria for so long now.

In discussions with the "boys" (if anything, females are under-represented in the groups) it is striking that it is not a case of realizing one’s own ideas at the cost of the developer but of finding a solution together that often costs less. Which makes it no surprise that the first contracts are frequently for low-budget single family dwellings. Not just because that is the classic way of working one’s way to the top. Several of the Groups are committed to a representative body called ig-architektur, which under its own steam conducts active lobbying, side-stepping in the process architects’ associations and chambers that are considered to be too slow and indolent. And this also involves getting involved with, for the most part, ridiculed house builders and championing better architecture at fairs for own homes.

Of course there is no way that even in Austria an architectural studio can survive by designing private dwellings alone. The spirit of competition is highly developed and monitored with Argus eyes, precisely on the part of recently founded studios and their representative body, ig-architektur. Yet many of the most outstanding buildings of the past few years cannot be attributed to public competitions, nor are they single family dwellings. The frequency with which small and medium-sized enterprises are prepared to invest in good architecture is striking. Here too a change in generation is evident, because developers and architects are mostly the same age. Here are just a few examples: the unique combination of metalworking shop and bar in Trumau by pool, the VIT showroom by querkraft and several of the new wineries recently honored in an exhibition in the Vienna Architecture Center.

To single out any one studio from such a vibrant scene is anything but easy. The choice fell on Innocad from Graz, who are not just architects (and occasionally DJs), but also project coordinators and recently completed the "Golden Nugget" project - a building for which they also the assumed the role of developer.

At the meeting with the four Innocad partners, all of whom were born in 1972 the various conference areas in the Golden Nugget were tested: The conference room itself, the underground leisure room with the exposed stone walls, the golden lecterns, from which the Innocad logo is derived and the Flokati Lounge with a silk screen print of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe. In the background mp3s from the iPod hard disk resounded continuously from the loudspeakers.

Weiter Next page

Links / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /