Günther Feuerstein

Architect (1925)

The architect, writer, advertising executive as well as teacher, Günther Feuerstein, was a major figure in the 20th century Austrian architectural scene. In the early 1960s, he became involved in a critique of modern functionalism and, through his critical activities, around the Technical University of Vienna, he helped to support and transmit the experiments of a young generation engaged in a social and spiritual re-shaping of architecture. His articles in the journal BAU (alongside Hans Hollein), together with the lectures, exhibitions and competitions which he organized, made him a catalyst in the architectural debate, contributing to unite, shed light on and historicize a whole generation of creative people. In 1966-67, Feuerstein curated the exhibition Urban Fiction, which brought together works by Hans Hollein and Walter Pichler, along with student projects: in particular Laurids Ortner and Günter Kelp (future members of Haus-Rucker-Co), Wolf D. Prix (later Coop Himmelb(l)au) featured among them, as well as participants hailing from Graz, such as Friederich St. Florian, Bernhard Hafner, Gartler & Rieder, and Domenig & Huth. The opening at the St. Stephan Gallery in Vienna took the form of a happening. Feuerstein screened a film and random images, depicting “naïve” and popular forms of architecture and pop environments, with a soundtrack consisting of children’s nursery rhymes. The models, for their part, also stemmed from performance: one was edible, another flew with the help of helium balloons. As an architect, Feuerstein contributed to that visionary research which incorporated questions of the day about collective dwelling and communication (Salzburg-Superpolis, (1965-67). His interest in archetypes, including the most archaic of architectural forms, and in the buried elements of the human psyche, would draw him closer to the art scene of the 1960s and 1970s.

Born in Vienna, Günther Feuerstein obtained his degree at the Technical University in Vienna and then worked with Michel Engelhart from 1951 onwards. In 1961, he became Karl Schwanzer’s assistant, and started teaching at the TU in Vienna; he duly founded his own “study, project and research workshop”. From 1963, he ran the “seminar club”, and then the “Experimental Study” course (19666-68), at the bidding of Karl Schwanzer. As founder of the review Transparent during the 1970s, Günther Feuerstein contributed to the history of architecture through his projects, the fruit of his research, and his teaching, as is attested to by his very numerous books, articles, and exhibitions.

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