FRIEDRICHSHOF, AUSTRIA, 1993
In 1997, we were hired to work on the re-purposing of a former commune in the Burgenland, not far from Vienna. Under the charismatic, if dictatorial, leadership of the artist Otto Muhl, the place had flourished, even burgeoned: its mainly Austrian and German members had been required to keep their day jobs and tithed the gain to the commune. The operation collapsed when Muhl was sent up the Danube for the exercise of his self-arrogated seigniorial right to de-flower the girls of that commune at an age that eventually became perverted. In its day, however, a handsome piece of land had been acquired and a series of communal building constructed, although in an architectural style more apt to a barracks for the Hitler jugend than a temple of the avant-garde. Left with this resource, a group of recovering members decided to open the place up to outsiders, imagining that the beautiful site would attract weekend residents.
Our first scheme was rejected as overly grand, even Disney-esque and so we went on to think about a group of houses of identical design for one corner of the property, facing fields beyond. While clearly creatures, their origins are not entirely clear. All have what are clearly bodies and tails, which secure their dual orientation to a perimeter road on the outside and the communal campus within. Each house features a cellar for the storage of the excellent wines produced in the region and to serve as a thermal buffer. The barrel roofs that vault over the main living areas are clearly carapaces and these shells suggest an idea about hard and soft, about shelter and sheltered.
Credits: Michael Sorkin, Andrei Vovk