The Kunsthaus was built in
order to celebrate Graz’s designation as the Cultural Capital of Europe for
2003, on a budget that is comparatively small for similarly focal cultural
venues in large(ish) cities. Graz is the second largest city in Austria, a
sprawl that can be appreciated from atop the castle in the center of town.
From this location the Kunsthaus stands out like a rather blue, sore thumb.
It is difficult to pass judgment on the aesthetic qualities of such a
building; it definitely is there, and it definitely is blue and blob-shaped,
but it also seems very much a part of the city.
to hate it, because of what it is: a symbol of the new modernism which has
been pioneered by these architects since the 1960s and recently by the likes
of architects Future Systems in Birmingham. But it is impossible to ignore
how well the building works as a space to display art; and besides which,
when up close, or even inside, the building becomes cute and actually quite
lovable. Indeed, it has been nick-named ‘the Friendly Alien’. Built
primarily of reinforced concrete and covered in translucent warm-blue
plastic panelling with white plaster and metal mesh on the interior, the
Kunsthaus feels very well constructed despite the low budget.
admired the quirky but thorough logic when I was moving around the building.
Everything seems so strange but feels very natural and cohesive. For
example, the progressions from ground floor to 1st and from 1st
to 2nd are achieved by riding an airport-like travelator inclined
slightly, which spans almost the entire length of the building. This gradual
movement between the floors somehow controls your progression and gives you
time to reflect on what you have just seen. Here, thankfully, one has time
night, the building is a joy because the entire front is covered - behind
the translucent blue - with a system of lights that create patterns and
display information. It is surprises like this that makes experiencing this
How to visit
possible to reach the Kunsthaus from the airport via taxi (I do not
recommend the sporadic buses) or by trams within the city – numbers 1, 3, 6
and 7 all stop at ‘Station Kunsthaus Graz’. But personally I recommend
finding your way to the river and simply walking along.
1000-1800 every day, except Thursday when it closes 2000 and on Mondays when
it is closed all day. Admission to the gallery spaces will cost you €6 for
adults or €2.50 for students.