Konrad Frey: Haus Zankel. Experiment Solararchitektur
architektur + analyse 2
Anselm Wagner/Ingrid Böck (eds.)
Berlin: Jovis, 2013
German, 160 pages, softcover
ISBN 978-3-86859-216-0
EUR 24.80

The solar house Zankel in the French town of Prévessin near Geneva was designed by the Graz-based architect Konrad Frey starting in 1976 and was built in 1978–85 by CERN physicist Karl Zankel for his family. The structure is the product of a congenial partnership that occurs only very rarely in the architectural world: architect and client were united by the same joy in adventuresome experimentation that can turn a project into a life purpose and a building into a work of art. The result can only be explained through contrasts: experimental solar laboratory and vernacular country estate, expressive spatial sculpture and ecological research station, representative societal stage and alternative children’s home, postmodern collage and technoid housing machine, Mannerist backdrop and monastic cell. It is indeed astonishing that this unique building has not yet received a noteworthy reception in architectural criticism—for it is the unknown masterwork of the “Graz School.” This book was created in the context of a master studio at Graz University of Technology with the aim of documenting this building that is faced with potential demolition.

Ingrid Böck has served as a research and teaching associate in the Institute of Architectural Theory, Art History and Cultural Studies at Graz University of Technology from 2008 to 2012.
Anselm Wagner is head of the same institute.