History & Architecture

nitsch museum

With Johannes Kraus and Michael Lawugger (archipel architektur + kommunikation) founding director Prof. Wolfgang Denk was able to win an international renowned architect team for the construction of the museum. The planners have gained their outstanding reputation on the back of a number of projects, including the “Swimming Gardens” at the International Garden Exhibition at Rostock in 2003, urban planning projects in Budapest, Berlin, and Karlsruhe, as well as the ‘Konzertkristall’ for the Vienna Boys’ Choir in the Augarten. 

Architectural Concept: “Place of Contemplation”

Conceptually the design concentrated on the long hall with the side hall, the grand hall, and the forge at the centre of the layout. The long hall and the grand hall were thin-walled brick buildings with broad ribbon windows and delicate lace steel fixings to support the roof; while in terms of the inside climate, the halls were initially completely inappropriate for museum purposes, their atmosphere very appealing: a monumental, archaic, sacral expression dwelled in the halls.

In cooperation with the Federal Monuments Office, it was possible to place the building ensemble, specifically the delicate steel constructions in the long hall, under protection. Inspired by the work of Hermann Nitsch and the clarity of the existing building structure, the two architects transformed the former gamekeeper-factory ensemble into a monastery-like museum facility through the masterfully judged removal and addition of elements.

Due to the seclusion and the new utilization of the grounds in connection with the work of Hermann Nitsch, associating the open spaces and building sections with the idea of a monastery seemed obvious. The source and model for this idea was the strictly geometrical ideal plan of a monastery in St. Gallen. Within the enveloping shell structures open areas are created which evoke associations with apses, cathedral, aisles, cloister, crypt, and a central piazza.

Architecturally, an arch of spatial suspense is generated between the subterranean “earthy rooms” of the crypt and the ‘weightless’ exhibition levels flushed with light. The interplay between large and small, low, long and high, open and closed interior and exterior spaces is at once the basic concept and a part of a dramaturgy which is process-oriented.

While the architecture aspires to support and foster the synthesis of the arts created by Hermann Nitsch, it is also careful to restrain any archaic vocabulary and steps into the background, allowing the spaces to unfold as arenas for tranquillity, elaboration, concentration, enactments, performances, and an all-embracing aesthetic experience.

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