Bvker Wall


(Vienna, Austria) 1972-74

Wi4 HS . inv. '

In the 1960s Hollein had completed a numb* i of 'paper' and actual projects before under taking the design of the Schullin Jewelry shoo. Most of these had been small-scale art galler ies or commercial shops, their design alwaysc balancing act between consumption and1 imagination, and very Viennese, reminiscent0'1 the turn of the century. In connection with his architectural practice, Hollein also emerged as one of the major forces behind new, high quality industrial design. In the context of a I practice reflecting the innovations of pre war avant-garde architecture, Hollein's early fan tasies' are both stimulating inventions, bu* also powerful critical statements.

The Schullin shop is a modest project, bui the ambitious ideas it incorporates, and cer tainly its influence, are disproportionately large. In an era of piecemeal functiona accommodation of facilities, Hollein produced

(Opposite, left) The Schullin shop facade

(Opposite, right) Axonometrie diagram of the facade and interior

(Right) View of the interior a genuine Gesamtkunstwerk with a remarkable unity of materials, where even the most minute, uninteresting' detail is treated with great and loving attention. Granite slabs, ducts, a niche, a portal, plates, frames are all carefully layered in contrast to anything that surrounds the shop, or that pre-existed on its site.

Against the bland, conventional and depersonalized post war mainstream buildings, the Schullin shop appeared as a shocking, gilded eccentricity when it was opened in 1974. Although it fulfilled all its functional requirements. the architect did not choose to be content with that. Its facade cried out and was a most conspicuous image. In the context of the functionalist tradition. Hollein had created something that defiantly turned its back on it.

Vet, very much as in the case of Robert Venturi s so-called 'witty', or even perverse'

design statements, the Schullin shop delivered a disconcerting, and uncompromising lesson. Instead of replaying the 'form follows function' routine, this 'modest' undertaking took upon itself to pose questions about the relationship between truth and poetry, language and reality: the sort of questions that grand works of art belonging to the Viennese, if not the entire Western tradition, had always posed in the past.

The project was one of the most important works to bring back to post-war architecture the idea of narration through iconic architectural means. At a time when facades were according to current practice means of communicating' the operation of the building programme (which, anyhow, was trivial for the Schullin shop), Hollein decided to use it to tell an exotic story, the story of the gold mine and the cracked stone. A cracked object? How strange that this object appeared when architecture could tolerate at most an organic object's informality within a highly controlled universe of mechanical products! What an anomaly, this geometry of disorder and chaos in the midst of so much rational perfection, well-formedness, bien fini\

The fabulism of the Schullin shop, like that of the other shops Hollein designed during the previous decade, can be criticized and condemned for delinquency or indifference to the prevailing urban and social problems; its myth-ographic luxury can be seen as decadent and irresponsible, as erecting temples to fetishism and fanning the flames of the bourgeois thirst for consumption. But the sheer anarchic fantasy and creative invention which went into the project's design were, paradoxically, not dissimilar. in terms of fantasy and imagination, to the previous decade's cultural revolt.

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