Broken mirror house

Graz, Austria
Martin Emmerer, Clemens Luser, Hansjörg Luser

The residential building ‘Stadthaus Ballhausgasse’ fills a long-time void on a street in the UNESCO world heritage listed historic city center of Graz, Austria. Context and integration is not only as a question of formal aspects – architecture is a mirror of politic, social and economic conditions. The structure explores a game of integration and mere imitation, using mirror-finished, high-gloss polished stainless steel — a high-quality component that has a subtle life of its own, as it is not as perfectly smooth and hard as glass. Through its properties, the collection of panels reflect the representative neorenaissance façades, which appears refracted and distorted as in a kaleidoscope. In the same way our today’s urban society can be seen as a refraction and distortion of the economic liberal bourgeoisie of the 19th century. The new building has the paradoxical effect of having both a strong presence and absence via dematerialization.