Eilfried Huth (*1930) and Günther Domenig (*1934) began their careers in Graz, where they at first explored – like Hausrucker and Co and Coop Himmelb(l)au – inflatable architecture and pneumatic constructions. In 1966, they participated in the exhibition ‚Urban Fiction’ at Galerie St. Stephan in Vienna which showcased the progressive Austrian architecture scene. Huth and Domenig exhibited the project Überbauung Ragnitz for which they received the ‚Grand Prix d’Urbanisme et d’Architecture‘ in Cannes in 1969 which laid the foundation for their international careers.

Günther Domenig/ Eilfried Huth, Überbauung Ragnitz, 1965-69 (reconstruction). Collection FRAC Centre, Orléans, France. Photo: Robert Illemann, Graz, Austria

Überbauung Ragnitz is one of the outstanding megastructure projects. Compared with the mostly ‚sketch like-fomenting’ (1) proposals by Hans Hollein, Walter Pichlers or other members of the Viennese and Graz architecture scene it is much more detailed and refers more to actual construction. Customized living units and transportation lines can be integrated into a ‚secondary system’ serving the double purpose of creating a basic spatial structure and hosting the supply network. Parking for automobiles, which were considered a necessary evil, was planned for within the basement of the structure as a concession to contemporary reality.

The project Ragnitz does not content itself with the constructive aspects of an urban megastructure. Rather it intends to create adequate spatial structures for a new and more flexible society. Following Bernhard Hafner‘s concept of an ‚urban architecture’, the conceived spatial structure shall not only depict social interrelations but shall also form the reality of a solidary and liberal city community.

Günther Domenig/ Eilfried Huth, Überbauung Ragnitz, 1965-69 (reconstruction). Collection FRAC Centre, Orléans, France. Photo: Robert Illemann, Graz, Austria

For Domenig and Huth the novel urban structure Überbauung Ragnitz-Graz is also a contribution to overcome the single-family house with its negative side effects of urban sprawl and rigidity of building form. The structure offers space for an urban population which under the guidance of an artistic-intellectual elite is mostly employed in the service sector and aims for a life-long, both socially and spatially integrated education. Through the tight interweavement of private and public spaces evolves a new equilibrium between the collective and individual.

Like the production of the apartment by personal manual contribution, individual creativity is of central importance: Legitimated personal contribution is the starting point for new creativity and production of thoughts. It will bridge the gap of misunderstanding between art and mass population will. (2)


CE

(1) Thus the contemporary opinion of Friedrich Achleitner, in ibidem: Urban Fiction in Österreich (Urban Fiction in Austria), in: Bauen + Wohnen, issue 5, 1967, p. 182.

(2) Legitimierte Eigenleistung ist Ausgangspunkt neuer schöpferischer Tätigkeit und Gedankenbildung. Die Kluft des Mißverständnisses zwischen Kunst und der Masse der Bevölkerung wird dadurch verschwinden. Günter Domenig, Eilfried Huth: Propositionen, in: Bauen + Wohnen, issue 5, 1967, p. 183.