Architecture is a process of analysis, of in-depth questioning of things, starting with all that is subliminal and also all that is different, says Wolfgang Tschapeller. Architecture is also a superimposition of biographies or biographical states; all those involved spread out on the plot and shape the ground in accordance with their key data, he says. It is a strategy of extracting substance from the terrain and reapplying it as building masses in the course of a dislocation with volumes kept constant, he says. The fact that the terrain in Murau turned out not to be autochthonous was not a condition for this archeological process, but it did favor it, says everybody. The cross-trenching of the cardboard terrain, parallel and at a right angle to the Mursteg footbridge, created an extravagant crown for the city. Neither a space allocation plan nor a functional diagram, but the body of the terrain served as the raw material for the design. The primary benefit of the project is that it clarifies the site as an easily legible narrative on morphology. The architect shaped the mountain; use follows the manual formation of peaks. In such a design, the process of creating fault lines in the raw material is just as illuminating as the resulting architecture. – Walter Chramosta, 2004
Few things are more challenging for public officials and institutions than a fresh take on their situation and on their customary way of doing things. When these challenges meet with a powerful idea, the result is bound to spark reactions and, occasionally, produce a landmark building. Such was the case in the town of Murau, where Wolfgang Tschapeller, in collaboration with Friedrich W. Schöffauer, proposed a municipal building of exceptional character.
This project stirred opposition even from the Swiss architects who had recently completed a bridge for Murau, at the foot of the incline where Tschapeller was to realize the Bezirkshauptmannschaft (seat of the regional government), and from various interested parties who drew small comfort from a public building at this site. Tschapeller has long occupied himself with the idea of transforming given conditions rather than figuring out a way of accommodating them. Convinced that soon most buildings will be accompanied by - even situated within - others, Tschapeller naturally starts from an extensive rather than a restrictive idea of architecture. His series of proposals for transforming office buildings into mixed-use structures are a case in point. BVA1, for instance, is a project that envisions a time when large concrete office structures will be stripped down to their skeletal frames and transformed by cell-like inhabitations. The act of imagining buildings to be susceptible to the problems of their sites has endowed the Murau building with a virtually singular complexity. Not that this complexity obscures the character of the site or confuses the requirements placed upon it. It is precisely this special condition that generates complexities. Tschapeller cleft the steep hillside above the river, leaving the cut fully exposed within the building and opening up facet after facet of its nature as the building rises against the hill and emerges on top as an eminently inviting pavilion. Giving as much space to internal communication as it attributes to the various administrative and consultative activities, the building also manages to rise to the status of a landmark and mediate its presence in the landscape through a gradual mutation of the site itself. As the structure emerges from the ground and rises alongside the hill, it acquires a lantern-like presence. “It matters that all the senses be involved,” Tschapeller has said, “so that things don’t turn into a series of images, like in a film, but equally involve the spectator. Whatever the situation - tectonic, physical, topographical, or social - architecture is an instrument for its analysis.” The complexities of Tschapeller’s work seem to be those of life itself; its qualities, on the other hand, spring from an allegiance to ideas rather than the necessities of existence.
Kurt Forster 2005 in: 10 x 10 _ 2, phaidon
Work on the building for the municipal authority started with cardboard models that reproduced the landscape and the volumes that the architects were working with. The landscape in the model was divided into four sections. The intersections were enlarged, and material was excavated and piled up on the edges. The first step was self-focused and isolated, a decision that marked a beginning, a structural, concentrated movement to anticipate as many of the necessary tectonic reflexes as possible. The architects describe their further work on the model as intuitive; the preparation of the landscape appears as a process of automatic writing. Even if there was no specific reaction to the environment, the latter seems to have had a hand in the writing. Though authorship remains open, clear topographical figures can in any case be read from the result in retrospect: The mouth of the Rantenbach creek now has a direct opposite, a furrow that holds the new building; it is artificial and natural at the same time, set at a right angle to the Mursteg footbridge, which in turn lies parallel to the Rantenbach creek. – Christa Kamleithner
The building site, a seemingly intact remainder of the river’s steep bank, consists of an overgrown rubble tip, compressed industrial waste. The area facing the train station was banked up in order to gain horizontal space in this mountainous location. In his studio, Wolfgang Tschapeller first formed a cardboard site model that was then cut to pieces with a knife, and the material taken out was piled up alongside the fissures, thrown up on the margins and shifted: a negative/positive erosion of uncovered material. The flank of the now deepened, extended trench was secured with bored piles laid bare, and the largest of the three bodies, a steel skeleton, was fitted into the hollow. The paned access zone extends downwards into a shaft over three levels between the construction and the pile wall, resulting in a powerful spatial texture that has natural light to a surprisingly great degree. On the other side, two smaller volumes embrace the well-known footbridge by Meili and Peter, which was given a second level to serve as the interior connection between the components. Otto Kapfinger
(Bürogebäude der öffentlichen Verwaltung)
MURAU Donnerstag 12.08.2004
20:37 bis Samstag 14.08.2004,
13:27, Aufnahme: 12 Rahmen im Intervall von 30 Sekunden