St. Joseph is a concrete molding independent of the building plot that is to be made habitable. The concrete molding lies at the edge of the outskirts of a plain along the Danube wetlands. Its basic measurements are 615 x 620 x 2230 centimeters. The concrete molding is set on four columns – one of them one-pronged, two of them two-pronged and one three-pronged. Its distance from the ground varies from 120 to 210 centimeters.
A second, softer white form detached from the outer shell is set within the concrete molding. The white form accesses and programs the interior space of the concrete molding, which is 2165 centimeters long and about 515 centimeters high – it makes it habitable, at least in part, if you wish. The two nested forms differ in terms of hardness and material.
Clash of Idioms
Mark #13 April/May 2008
House in St. Andrä-Wördern, Austria
Text: Arthur Wortmann
The most recent project by Austrian architect Wolfgang Tschapeller, a single-family home at the edge of town, appears both strange and familiar. From the outside, we can discern several principles of classical modernism. The columns keep the ground level open for the inhabitants’ outdoor activities; the house has a roof terrace, horizontal strip windows and curtain walls. An open plan seems to be the general intent. Le Corbusier would have approved.
But something is off. Strange, irregular sections have been carved out of the concrete façade; the roof terrace is slanted; the supports are arranged in playful groups. The interior is even more confusing. The flowing space is painted in solid white, just as it should be, but the walls twist in all sorts of directions. The spirit of architects like Coop Himmelb(l)au and UNStudio permeates this place – it exudes an air of post-blobism and post-deconstructivism. The interior is a sculpture. The staircases are diagonal volumes on which steps have been set. The space plays with geometry, volumes and recesses.
Wolfgang Tschapeller blends two architectural idioms that, in principle, have little in common and do not reinforce one another. The house does not reveal the reasons for this approach, but that is no detriment to its effect. It gives the structure a certain pertness and makes it a tongue-in-cheek reference to the history of architecture.