Kunsthaus Graz – Graz, Austria - Atlas Obscura

Kunsthaus Graz

Austria's ultra-modern art museum looks like Cthulhu's giant alien heart. 


Standing in sharp contrast to the more traditional historic architecture of Graz, Austria, the Kunsthaus Graz art museum was designed to break out of the usual white box museum design and it ended up looking like a giant robot/demon heart from the future. 

The modern museum was built in 2003 during the time when Graz served as the European Capital of Culture, a roving honor that is awarded to a different European city each year. Rather than install another bland box among the lovely, aging buildings of the city, the designers went in the completely opposite direction, giving the building a more rounded, organic look. It also manages to look completely otherworldly. The bulbous shape and the skylight shafts that protrude from the top of the structure make it look like a metallic monster heart.

The gleaming surface of the museum is also embedded with nearly 1,000 fluorescent rings that can be programmed to create patterns, making the building even more spectacular and strange at night. Much of the structure’s power is absorbed by solar panels on the gleaming roof of the building, so it is almost as though it is gaining energy like an actual living being.

This playful building was designed by architects Sir Peter Cook and Colin Fournier. Cook famously co-founded Archigram in the 1960s, an avant-garde, neo-futurist group of architects. Archigram inspired architects like Norman Foster who designed the London City Hall, as well as the designers of Centre Pompidou in Paris.

While the museum definitely stands out among the rest of Graz’s uniformly historic buildings, it is now a beloved landmark of the city, and well worth a visit whether you are a fan of art or just looking to see what a giant’s silver heart would look like.   

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