The Kunsthaus has been called a baby hippo, sea slug, porcupine, whale and a "Friendly Alien" - this last name having been coined by Colin Fournier, one of its two architects. For him, the Kunsthaus is a biomorphic, indefinable something, a hybrid, strange and familiar at the same time, with the "charm of a friendly mixed-breed stray dog, definitely highly questionable in terms of pedigree."
The Kunsthaus was built as part of the programme for the European Capital of Culture 2003 - a new architectural landmark in Graz that has come to be mentioned in the same breath as the city's iconic clocktower and the Schlossberg. Each year it attracts many thousands of visitors from all over the world, and has long since been absorbed into the urban identity of the city. Designed at the beginning of the millennium by architects Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, its unique shape and striking colour inspire and thrill those who encounter it.
Walking around the building, feeling its visual “softness”, glimpsing the surrounding environment mirrored in the building’s translucent cladding, this is already part of the visit to the Kunsthaus.
As mentioned above, along with an urban landmark, the Kunsthaus Graz is also one of the most lively art centers in Austria and regularly accommodates major exhibitions presenting works by international and Austrian contemporary artists, architects and designers.
The interior space, formed by two large exhibition rooms, one stacked over the other, named space-01 and space-02, is as much different as possible from the white neutral spaces typical of many contemporary-art exhibition venues. The challenge that the Kunsthaus designers have thrown down to artists and curators is, for every exhibition, to redefine the used space and adopt solutions capable to create a relationship with a building of a so strong personality and visual strength.
Ten years of temporary exhibitions have also made clear what is the best use for both rooms: while the gallery on the lower floor (space 02) is more suitable for exhibitions dedicated to paintings, photography and video art, the “space 01″ gallery is more appropriate for housing large sculptures and installations
According to museum-joanneum.at and inexhibit.com