What Buildings Teach: The Steinhaus
at Günther Domenig’s Steinhaus, opening in the course of “Architekturtage 2024”, exhibition from June 6th to August 3rd 2024

Was Gebäude lehren:
Das Steinhaus

Fig. Günther Domenig’s Steinhaus, June 2024
© Helga Rader

In cooperation with Steinhaus Günther Domenig Privatstiftung and Architektur Haus Kärnten, Daniel Gethmann and Andreas Lechner (TU Graz) presented student’s results of two classes in the form of an exhibition held in Domenig’s Steinhaus in Steindorf at Lake Ossiach. The exhibition shows multi-layered design ideas and architectural connections and presents them in drawings and models. Furthermore, the exhibition addresses the question of how the Steinhaus is embedded in the landscape around Lake Ossiach at various scales. The graphic analyses at display allow programmatic, typological, and tectonic conclusions to be drawn, which are further developed in exemplary design approaches. The Steinhaus's most essential lesson is its undogmatic uncompromising nature. It teaches that every design is open to multiple directions and interpretations, both as a discursive and tangible architectural object.

Fevzi Akbaş, Anastasia Bernatska, Lisa Maria Bierbauer, Bettina Deutsch, Sumeja Duranović, Stefanie Frauenthaler, Angelina Frey, Adrian Gahn, Egli Hasmegaj, Hermann Hofer, Christopher Jonas, Aline Mayr, Melvin McArthur, Lukas Meikl, Mariangel Moreno Arestegui, Sophia Pechmann, Gloria Perković, Nuša Šantl, Catharina Stacher, Daniela Todd Maldonado, Ella Van Gassen, Gregor Wallner, Julia Westreicher

Daniel Gethmann
(Institute of Architectural Theory, Art History and Cultural Studies, TU Graz)
Andreas Lechner
(Institute of Design and Building Typologies, TU Graz)

"The basic idea, which I don't want to abandon, is the Steinhaus as a workshop for architecture. It should become a school of architecture and this school should be used, if possible, by the universities of the world."

— Günther Domenig, ORF, 2002

This exhibition explores Günther Domenig's vision of the Steinhaus as an experimental laboratory for architectural design, an "architectural workshop." The works investigate the Steinhaus through individual aspects, presenting their findings through architectural drawings, portraying the Steinhaus as a dynamic, evolving architectural process. The two exhibition areas, based on TU Graz courses, examine the Steinhaus on three levels: regional, object, and design, highlighting an exchange of ideas and an ecology of architectural design.

Domenig’s project begins with a footbridge that transforms into a ramp, leading to a complex composition of sharp, angular forms in concrete, stainless steel, and glass.

This design emphasizes dynamic spatial structures, revealing new architectural perspectives with every movement. The Steinhaus translates natural stone formations and rural buildings into its expressive structure, reflecting Domenig's origins in the rugged Mölltal valley and integrating it into the Lake Ossiach mountain landscape. The five-storey, 800 m² structure of concrete, glass, and steel blocks is arranged in an irregular yet orderly fashion, resembling a rockfall.

Domenig envisioned the Steinhaus as a seminar building for architecture students or a personalized residence, a psychogram of his life. It functions as a built architectural thesis, an artifact, a sculpture, a research project, a protest against mundane life, and a hybrid of art and construction. The building functions as an experimental “laboratory in which it is all about liminal values” (Walter Pichler), a machine of unpredictability that reflects the processes of open design. It organizes and gathers diversity through its numerous biographical and architectural elements, objects, landscapes and scenes. These lessons from the Steinhaus were the focus of our research and analysis, primarily through drawings of building elements and spatial relationships, and the creation of a detailed 3D model based on plans and sections from the literature. The Steinhaus's ecologies, described in regional, object, and detail-related scale analyses, reveal a complex spatial structure open to discovery. As a Gesamtkunstwerk and political statement without obvious utilization, it remains open-ended and fragmentary. The students' nine analytical drawings are reflexively turned into a guest residence, incorporating new and renewed spaces, suspended and retreat areas, high and deep paths that traverse and separate interior and exterior spaces, and integrating old and new objects, meanings, and memories.

Photos from exhibition opening
©Helga Rader

© Helga Rader

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