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Die Vertikale Stadt

©François Lauginie

Die Vertikale Stadt, 1964

Klaus Gartler & Helmut Rieder
  • Architects

In 1960, Klaus Gartler and Helmut Rieder enrolled in the School of Architecture at the Technical University in Graz. At that time, the school’s reputation was very much on the rise, in particular since Raimund Abraham and Friedrich St. Florian (his real name being Gartler, Klaus’ elder brother) passed through its doors. Under the aegis of teachers such as Hubert Hoffmann, a former Bauhaus student, over five years of study Gartler & Rieder would develop a series of experimental projects, focusing on the study of engineering and technologies, to carry out a radical re-shaping of architecture, in tune with the dreams of mobility and communication which were then informing the international debate. After an initial “model farm project”, inspired by Louis Kahn, and a project of horizontal city-planning, marked by the proliferation of cellular aggregates (Feldkirchen, 1963), their studies for the Vertical City (a 1600 meter/5000 foot high mega-structure set in the middle of a lake) and Campo Mondo explored in a visionary way the principles of an architecture freed from all inscriptions and likened to just the order of circulation and information flows. These projects would be presented in the Travelling Architecture Exhibition organized in 1965 by Graz University in Kapfenberg, and then in Linz. That show—just like Bernhard Hafner’s exhibition Struktureller Städtebau at the Neue Galerie the following year—would contribute to the emergence, if not of a “Graz school”, then at least of an experimental scene which would be bolstered in the late 1960s by the architects Domenig & Huth and the Trigon international biennale. Günther Feuerstein also presented Gartler & Rieder’s projects in the exhibition Urban Fiction, held in Vienna in 1966, which brought together the most avant-garde ideas of the Austrian scene. Hans Hollein and Bernhard Hafner eventually published them in the double issue of Bau devoted to the “visionary architects of Graz” (No. 4/5, 1969).

Klaus Gartler and Helmut Rieder graduated from the Technical University in Graz in 1965. Gartler embarked on a university career, from Princeton (1969-1972) to Graz (1972-2008), and as Senior Fellow at the Center for Metropolitan Planning and Research in John Hopkins University (Maryland) in 1975-76. In Graz, he also developed an urbanistic architectural praxis from 1974 on. As a city counsellor between 1978 and 1990, he tackled issues of transport, thoroughfares, and waste water treatment. He passed away in 2016.

Helmut Rieder settled in Paris in 1965, and then in Orléans in 1968, where he still lives today. Up until 1976, he worked on the construction of the Hôpital de la Source (as the project’s chief architect). In 1975 he developed a project of modulable houses to be assembled by the owners (Dominos d’Habitat) and made a series of study trips to California, and Canada (1979-1986). Since 1991, H. Rieder has been working as a freelance architect.

Aurélien Vernant