In Günther Domenig’s work, there is an inextricably close relationship between physicality and utopia, which overlap in many projects and feed off each other. One is reflected in the other. Sketches of the Z‑Sparkasse in Vienna, for example, are reminiscent of the skeleton of a strange vertebrate creature, while the organic structure of the interior of the multi-purpose hall at the School Sisters in Graz-Eggenberg recalls a uterus.
Paws and fingers protrude from the buildings, sometimes subtly, sometimes clearly extending into the space. The hand as a representative of genuine creation – very present in Günther Domenig’s drawing work – becomes a defining architectural feature. Both the Z‑Sparkasse complex and the conversions of the Humanic branches (especially in Vienna), but also the Steinhaus itself are determined by this motif; they seem to want to step out of the row of surrounding architecture or appropriate the space through the gesture of “grasping”.
Many of Domenig’s buildings have a subtle recalcitrance that is difficult to put into words. Some seem to go against their intended function, others against the plans of the clients or the wishes of the users: actors refused to rehearse on their rehearsal stage. The institutes
of the Faculty of Architecture in Graz – apart from Domenig’s own – will never move into the building planned for them. The former bank branch became a suitcase shop, then vacant. It is uncleanable, the owner once remarked in an aside. One might think that these buildings are “useless”. But a closer look reveals how they soak up their environment and change it. Almost as if they were living organisms. They do not only fulfil a function, they also have a life of their own that forces us to rethink our notions of usability and function.
- GÜNTHER DOMENIG © Photo: Gerhard Maurer, 2022 Günther Domenig received an invitation to design a branch of the Z‑Sparkasse in the Vienna Favoriten district during the construction at the Schulschwestern. It came directly from Karl Vak, the bank’s director at that time. (During this period, not only were other branches realised by renowned archit…→ more
Wooden Jetty at the Steinhaus, Steindorf at Lake Ossiach, 1976–1981GÜNTHER DOMENIG The wooden jetty at the Steinhaus is the first action takes Günther Domenig with respect to the occupation of his grandmother’s property. The jetty does not lead from the shore into the lake, but rather out of the water and onto the land. A complicated structure, a built oscillation, a possessive gesture and an object to climb on …→ more
Humanic Alser Straße, 1978 - 1980GÜNTHER DOMENIG © Photo: Gerhard Maurer, 2022 After the Z‑Sparkasse, Günther Domenig worked for a number of years on the conversion of several branches of the Humanic shoe retail chain. Humanic was early to use the potential of the artistic and architectural avantgarde in their marketing, and the first to do so consistently – their advertisemen…→ more
Multipurpose Hall at the Schulschwestern, Graz-Eggenberg, 1974–1979GÜNTHER DOMENIG/ EILFRIED HUTH © Photo: Gerhard Maurer, 2022 The unusual and unique multipurpose hall of the Schulschwestern in Graz is in many respects central to Günther Domenig’s view of architecture and also to his self-definition as an artist and architect. Initially, the project was still based on a design developed with Eilfried Huth, bu…→ more