GAM 01


Urs Hirschberg

GAM.01 “Tourism and Landscape”. “The transformation of space, both physically in the form of buildings and complexes, and non-materially, i.e. in its social perception and utilisation, is the core issue that GAM sets out to explore from new angles.” – That is the goal as stated in the call for papers that we sent out in summer 2003 to publish our concept for our new publication and to invite experts to send us papers for the first topic of the magazine “Tourism and Landscape”.

We now have the results of the call: from more than forty submissions, our editorial board has selected eight contributions for publication. They cover a range of topics from the current problems of the Huaorani in the rainforests of South America to the plans for winter sports resorts in the French Alps, from the Fürst-Pückler-Land landscape park being built on industrial wastelands in the eastern part of Germany to the pseudo worlds of hotel complexes in Las Vegas and their handling of public space. Culture, nature, planning and technology are the specific perspectives from which the articles explore various forms of tourism in connection with landscape. Parallel – sometimes connected – to this are the photo features also submitted for our call, that deal with these topics without words, but equally eloquently. As different as these approaches and perspectives may be, the topics too are extremely broad in range – both geographically and in terms of subject matter: they are always concerned with the transformation of space and thus with core issues of architecture. The articles impressively underpin the postulate of our call for papers: the relevance of architecture as the interdisciplinary field par excellence.

This relevance is not to be taken for granted. Particularly in the current situation, it must be emphasised and defended – both outwardly and inwardly. An architectural discipline that is reduced to discussing formal questions of design will not be able to assert its social relevance. In order to put its concerns across, it must make public its arguments and objectives and actively face up to the constantly growing rivalry for attention and resources. As architects, however, we should by no means carry out a rearguard action – quite the contrary, we should not shrink from entering new areas in which we can credibly bring our expertise to bear.

This is also the self-conception of GAM: by opening up the magazine to international contributions and an objective assessment of these by a renowned board of experts, on the one hand the aim is to create an open discourse, well-founded both technically and scientifically, as is rarely found in journals of architecture. On the other hand, this same openness is to apply to the articles themselves. GAM focuses on topics that not only concern architecture. With regard to selection of the articles, one key criterion is that their language and the mode of argumentation must be understandable and interesting, beyond the circle of initiated experts, for an audience interested in social and cultural issues.

The most recent Austrian state award for architecture was dedicated to the topic of “tourism and recreation”. The tribute at the award ceremony held at TU Graz in 2003 honoring Zaha Hadid’s Bergisel jumping arena in Innsbruck and Wolfgang Pöschl und Dieter Comploj’s Hotel Anton, was delivered by Bernhard Tschofen. For this reason we invited him to write an essay in which he also reflects on the award-winning projects. All other submissions were refereed by members of our editorial board. Only the photographic works by Margherita Spiluttini, Bas Princen, Jordi Bernadó, Walter Niedermayr and Ragnar Knittel, as well as the architecture projects by Dominique Perrault and Odile Decq, were chosen directly by the editors. Editors in chief are Roger Riewe, professor of architecture technology, initiator of the project GAM; Günter Koberg, public relations manager of the architecture faculty and coordinator of the editing; Jörn Köppler, assistant at the institute for architectural theory, responsible for the faculty news and Urs Hirschberg, professor of architecture and media, dean of the faculty of architecture.

At this point we would like to express our thanks as editors. Primarily to the authors, who applied with their contributions for this issue in response to our call for papers. We were very impressed with the number and the high quality of the submissions and we were sorry that the number of pages available was limited so that we were forced to reject many contributions. But thanks are due particularly to our editorial board. Through their willingness to support GAM and with their valuable comments regarding conception and their assessment of the contributions submitted, Friedrich Achleitner, Michelle Addington, George Baird, Shigeru Ban, Aaron Betsky, Pierre Alain Croset, Eduard Führ, Andrej Hrausky, Ernst Hubeli, Adolf Krischanitz, Bart Lootsma, Josep Lluis Mateo, Farshid Moussavi, Didier Rebois, Arno Ritter, Gerhard Schmitt, Georg Schöllhammer, and Kai Vöckler have contributed tremendously to the success of the magazine. Finally, thanks are also due to the many colleagues and students at the Faculty of Architecture at Graz University of Technology: for their contributions and their trust and support for the editors.
GAM aims to be a platform for international discourse. But GAM, the Graz Architecture Magazine, is also firmly rooted – it is a Graz publication, published by the Faculty of Architecture at the local University of Technology. The principle of “glocal”, the interplay of global and local, is characteristic of GAM, as indeed it is for architecture as a whole. It bespeaks a commitment to concrete aspects, developed on the basis of local and temporal conditions, that goes to make up the whole wealth of the discipline of architecture and without which the equally necessary international exchange and discourse would be impossible and meaningless. In addition to the thematic orientation to tourism and landscape in the main, “international” section, GAM also offers an insight into the local Graz scene, within and outside the Faculty of Architecture. The aim was neither to showcase nor to encyclopaedically enumerate all activities. Instead, the magazine offers pinpoint insights into projects and conditions that we feel are of interest above and beyond the situation in Graz and which go to create a kind of kaleidoscope.

GAM sets out with great ambitions, in a way with a child’s naive ambition of wanting everything at once: a magazine and yet a book, an international publication and yet a publication from Graz, a precise subject and yet openess to contributions of all provenance, the current architecture discourse and yet also contributions that are understandable and interesting beyond the boundaries of the discipline. “In order for the possible to happen, we must continually strive for the impossible”, as Hermann Hesse once said. This first issue of GAM, that you are now reading, is the possible issue that we accomplished in our effort to achieve our high, perhaps impossible ambitions. We feel that it has turned out pretty well. The next issue, on the subject of “Design Science in Architecture” (see call for papers on page 224) is already in planning. In this sense, GAM.01 is at best merely the beginning of our ambitious goals. On the other hand, to stay with Hesse: “In all beginnings dwells a magic force!” We hope that our first issue on Tourism and Landscape and its optimistic message that architecture is everywhere – in the Alps and in the rainforest, even in the desert of Nevada and in Graz, we hope that you will find some magic in this and that the magazine will make stimulating reading. ■