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Festival Zentrum - Steirischer Herbst 2017
Schlossberg Platz/ Palais Attems, Graz, Austria

with Studio Magic


Transegrity is an installation developed by Studio Magic for the Festival center of the 50th Steirischer Herbst, in response to the year’s leitmotiv question “Where are we now?”. Making a playful conjunction of the prefix “trans” (across, beyond, through) and “tensegrity” (already a portmanteau – tensional integrity – made by Buckminster Fuller to define structural principle that works with tension and compression of isolated elements), the work wants to address questions of territorial appropriation and placemaking through its physical constitution.

The core idea evolved out of the Czech Hedgehog. This object, firstly used by the Czech as an anti-tank obstacle defense during the WWII, was particularly effective in urban combat. Over-dimensioning the hedgehogs and making them of wood stacks instead of concrete and metal was the first choice of the project: to mark the territory by creating a penetrable field, a deconstructed obstacle that transforms the linearity and straightforwardness of the common forms of movement in this passageway of Graz into a warm place to stay. This in intensified by the light concept, using LED light stripes that change the space as the night falls, dissolving even more the structure into a colorful lightning field. The combination of the light colors change as the visitors move around the installation: facing the river one sees warm white and green, facing the mountain the space becomes pink and blue.

Hanging on top of the hedgehogs, the tensegrity structures might create again an uncomfortable feeling. The principle of the tensegrity enables the dissolution of the pillars and solidity of the wooden stacks into a suspended system of forces. Its apparent fragility is counter posed by its relative indestructability: it is in the relationship between different structural behaviors (tension and compression) and different materialities (bars and cables) that the system stabilizes. The choice of this architectonic element in the conceptual framework suggests a form of stability that is based on a system of active forces of compression and tension. A philosophic and social comment on behaviors that can be observed in this structure but also in nature and in society: fixity in opposition to dynamic synergies.

Departing from the premise that creating synergies through reinventing forms of togetherness and playfulness in public spaces are fairly more effective in creating social cohesion within diversity than any form of physical defense, protection and enclosing – this project deliberately appropriates a military obstacle, transforming it into a metaphor to rethink our political stand points. Isn’t it time to move across and beyond the borders that we are at now?


Project team:
Studio Magic (concept, development and implementation)
Daniela Brasil (collaboration concept & design)
MAS Mojo Architectural Studio (mentorship)
Engelsmann Peters GmbH (structural planning)

Photo credits:
Lipp Zahnschirm (night shots)
Simon Oberhofer (day shots)


tagged under: 2017 architecture Daniela Brasil event public space work

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