"Beware Architecture!" Architecture that entails surprise, even danger, is the subject of this exciting discourse on a body of work that has gained increasing international attention since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Graz and Vienna came to represent the radical edge of European architecture. Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen looks at how this architecture tests the limits of the modern tradition, bringing to light work that is little known yet extremely consequential for contemporary theoretical discourse.
Forged in a rarified architectural climate dominated by postwar Marxist-Freudian trends, the Austrian avant-garde challenges the traditional paradigms of objecthood, compositional form, programmic functionality, and spatial closure, emphasizing the fictional and the fantastic embodied in the more peripheral notions within the modern tradition: glass, ornament, machine mysticism, and the organic gestural line.
Pelkonen moves between a solid analysis of individual works of architects and firms such as Volker Giencke, Günter Domenig, Klaus Kada, Helmut Richter, COOP Himmelblau, and Haus-Rucker-Co, and others, and their historical and cultural contexts: philosophical debates on Heidegger, Bloch, Derrida, Merleau-Ponty, and Giorgio Agamben; and the postwar debate on the avant-garde through the works of Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Francis Bacon, and the Wiener Aktionisten.
"Pelkonen's text leaves no doubt that Austria's contribution to post-war architecture and discourse lives liminally and radically, and that Graz is the place to go to rediscover architecture's lost sense of adventure and innocence. This book reminds us that architecture—in order to be engaged—calls first for a state of mind. Pelkonen presents hers with brave analogies, critical charm, and elegant ghost-discourses."
—Roger Connah, Architectural Historian
"Really good work should make a scholar just a bit jealous. Pelkonen's work has that quality. Here is a fresh voice; she has something important to say and does so with conviction and authority. Pelkonen brings to her discussion an extraordinary command of the presupposed artistic and intellectual climate. I know of no book that quite does what she here succeeds in doing."
—Karsten Harries, Professor of Philosophy, Yale University