Herwig Udo Graf: Kulturzentrum Mattersburg, 1972D–1976

  • Mattersburg, Austria, Show on map
  • #CUL #Public #RescueCampaign #Sculptural #Western Europe
  • “It is an excellent cultural-political objective […] to provide rural areas with cultural and educational centers spread across the whole country.” (Fred Sinowatz 1976)

    In May 1976, Austria’s first cultural center was inaugurated, an exposed concrete building erected by Herwig Udo Graf in Mattersburg, Burgenland. It was preceded by a high-profile cultural-political initiative led by Gerald Mader, the regional cultural minister, with the support of then Federal Minister for Education and Art Fred Sinowatz. The aim was the construction of cultural centers throughout rural Burgenland, a region lacking adequate buildings for cultural events.

    The KUZ cultural center together with a secondary school and gym form an urban development ensemble that was originally accessible via a cleverly detailed set of stairs. In 1994 it was torn down to make way for a street, and other parts of the facility, too, have undergone a number of modifications. The KUZ has been vacant since 2014, and large sections are to be demolished to make room for a new building. “Rettet das Kulturzentrum Mattersburg” is a campaign to save the Mattersburg Cultural Center and is run mainly by Johann Gallis, who ever since these demolition plans were announced has been working to preserve this important document of 1970s Social Democratic cultural policy.

    (Written by Sonja Pisarik, Architekturzentrum Wien)

    In the 1960s and 1970s a series of cultural centers were planned for the Burgenland, the economically weak, easternmost Austrian state on the border to Hungary. The Mattersburg Cultural Center was the first of these projects and thus essentially a model for what followed. The exposed concrete building is important not just in terms of architecture but also cultural policy.

    (Written by Johann Gallis)

  • 1998–2000 extensions and partial redesign of the interior. Recently, there have been discussions about an at least partial demolition and profound redesigns. The Rettet das Kulturzentrum Mattersburg campaign promoted to save the center. Contrary to several expert opinions and the campaign activism, the implementation of demolition was decided. The demolition works started at the 5th of July 2019 and are still ongoing. (written: 09.07.2019)