July 5, 2007

Bregenz, Innsbruck (Austria)

The Kunsthaus Bregenz first appeared as a gleaming cube of ice. Floor plates and stair treads are subtlety revealed on the entry facade, their definition blurred by rows of angled and overlapping frosted glass panels.

Peter Zumthor's projects (thus far) have a high level of coherency in terms of space, use, and form. They make an impact in the first few seconds and sustain their composure through the duration of the experience, supported by well thought-out and constructed details. Clarity in concept, use of materials, and use of lighting are some of his greatest strengths.

The current showing was "Mythos." Entire floor levels were given to each individual artist, something rarely seen in the majority of museums. Most impressive was the 3rd floor gallery dedicated to Matthew Barney. Filling the room was his large scale sculpture "Cetacea," created on the Japanese whaling ship "Nisshin Maru," one of the settings from his latest film "Drawing Restraint 9." (If you appreciate Matthew Barney's work and have not yet seen the film, we recommend checking it out!) Made of cast polycaprolactone thermoplastic, self-lubricating plastic, and vivac the mass appeared to be suspended in a state of animation, frozen while melting. (
More photos of the installation here.)

A long drive through many tunnels brought us to Innsbruck, capitol of the federal state of Tyrol. After checking in to our hotel, we walked towards the center of the town and came across several tram station construction sites from Zaha Hadid's forthcoming Nordkettenbahn (aerial tram). The sculpted forms of the stations were dynamic and fluid, seeming to be from the future.

The next morning we drove to the outskirts of Innsbruck to see the MPREIS im centrum.odor by architects Froetscher Lichtenwagner, a sleek complex combining a grocery store, kindergarten, auditorium, living apartments and underground parking garage.

The afternoon led us to another project by Zaha Hadid, the Bergisel ski jump. Another dynamic and exciting design, we continue to be impressed by her ability to sculpt forms that defy convention. However, this project was less impressive in close proximity.. the coherency of the form was diluted and some of the details were not wearing well. The sights from the viewing platform were breath-taking!

Umspannwerk Mitte by UN Studio. From the exterior this project looked like a high-tech generator, sleek and seductive in form, it also felt cold and nihilistic. (and empty).

Adambrau was an old Austrian brew house converted to a museum / architecture resource center by Rainer Koberl in a style reminiscent of Bauhaus.

We visited several other small projects in and around Innsbruck, and left feeling like we had only scratched the surface of Austria.


  1. Nice composition on those photos. .what kinds of filters are you using? Just wondering how you picked your hotels, or if you just winged it a lot?

    : )

  2. Thanks... the only filter we are using is a promaster uv filter to reduce haze in some shots. Contrast has also been adjusted in some photos before we post them.
    We found most hotels through the internet... however, the longer we have traveled, the more we have used the phone, as the online confirmation process is more time consuming. (Though to find the phone numbers for the hotels, google has been essential). The days of showing up at a hostel and expecting to get a room are over now that they can all be booked online. In Lyon we went to the tourist office and had them call to find us a room which saved a lot of time. After some bad luck ( see http://dod-projects.blogspot.com/2007/06/botch-day-june-19.html ) we stopped winging it, and always have at least one day ahead booked. Makes for much smoother travelling!


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