Karl-Heinz Klopf


Location: High school, Kufstein / Austria
Completion: 2012
Photographs: David Schreyer
Commissioned by BIG Art


A wall, which shades the glass facade behind, is formed like a crinkled sheet of paper. That material so commonly used at school is quasi zoomed out of the interior and transformed as part of the architecture into the exterior. The wall is made of concrete and formed as a sculptural element, thus establishing a close relation between the interior and the exterior. It functions as an interface between the school and the park. The view of the Crinkled Wall from the interior creates a special atmosphere. It seems to be staged and is dynamically reflected by daylight. This wall, integrated into the architecture of the school, is an icon for the school and a concise urbanistic module which highlights the topological and cultural identity of the town of Kufstein in a new way.

(Crinkled Wall, 2011 / realization: 2012; concrete, 1550 x 1200 cm; High School Kufstein, Tyrol, Austria; architecture: Johannes Wiesflecker)


A Congenial Symbiosis of Art and Architecture

There is no lack of associations even for the fleeting passer-by: a crumpled up sheet of paper many a teacher and student have seen wandering from desk to bin, oftentimes smoothened out, would seem an obvious interpretation. Looking up at the fortress of Kufstein some might see a rock formation, wondering where the handholds are on this, their climbing wall. Artist Karl-Heinz Klopf is not averse to these interpretations of his work on the south-east façade of the new extension to the Kufstein Bundesgymnasium (federal grammar school). On the contrary, the whole idea behind his participation in the contest was based on crumpled up paper, smooth surface transformed into a surface relief. A two-dimensional plain raised to the third dimension gains a different appearance and significance. It is a metaphor for learning through creative processes, for discarding old ideas and finding new ones.

 "The artwork was latched onto the building to create a supersign for the school, a conspicuous urban building block and a continuation of Kufstein’s topology and cultural identity." These were the words of the jury to substantiate their decision in favour of the winning project in the BIG art competition. In doing so they addressed three significant criteria which art interventions in public space usually succeed in by chance only: first of all integration with the building. It is hardly ever possible to involve an artist at an early construction stage or even the planning phase. This case proved ideal. In his submission to the architects’ competition Hannes Wiesflecker already pointed out that the wall might be suitable for an art intervention. Second and third, its striking appearance in the cityscape and its contribution to building identity in terms of topology and culture. The k.u.k. Staatsrealschule (imperial-royal secondary school) on Schillerstrasse first opened its doors in 1907 and continues to be a major educational institution for the district of Kufstein. The original, listed, building in regional-traditional style and its well-preserved fin-de-siècle interior were designed by Stuttgart architect Willy Graf. Prachensky, Heiss and Partners designed its extension in 1978. Rising student numbers and new demands on space utilisation called for renovations and further extensions. The building’s architectural quality simply lent itself to a unison of art and architecture, a project that would offer more than just functional space. The school constitutes a major element in the cityscape, central and close to the city’s most visible landmark, the fortress, as it is. Its specific value and that of schools in general is highlighted by the attempt to make its cultural significance, both past and present, visible on the outside. On the inside students and teachers encounter art in the classrooms turning their daily routine into unusual experiences of space.

Architect Hannes Wiesflecker placed the wall at a distance to the south-eastern window façade so that the classrooms which are lit from two sides are protected from direct southern sunlight. The daylight that enters from above and is reflected by the wall relief creates different moods depending on weather conditions. Artist and architect joined forces to let the art project and the architecture grow in tune from the very beginning. Highly advanced technologies and craftsmanship both had their place. The formwork elements made from coated Styrofoam were produced by a decoration construction company in Lower Austria using a CNC milling machine and the 3D scan of a DIN-A4 sheet of paper. The elaborate armouring of the wall with its irregular reliefs on both sides—concreted as one piece and in four stages on site – had to be bent manually. The concrete surfaces were left rough, traces of the finishing process remained visible and the fine grid of the formwork elements is still legible. No polish or sealing was used yet the surface is remarkably fine.
Associations with paper and rock as mentioned at the beginning grow and dissipate depending on the observer’s distance and perspective. Seen from afar the massive 15.5 by 12 metres wall appears fragile like a large crumpled up piece of white paper. Other lines of sight render a different picture, as if the building is being pushed out from the rock behind. Close up the wall takes on a new scale: it is no longer fragile but massive and strong. Thus the wall, on the inside and the outside, becomes a setting and projection screen for residents and visitors and for the small group of teachers and students at the school. In the truest sense it is art for the public, art that conveys itself without populism. The magic emitted by Klopf’s “Crinkled Wall“ has met and merged with architect Wiesflecker’s poetic brutalism.

Text by Franziska Leeb

To top