A total of 102 projects were submitted to the international competition for the construction of the Kunsthaus. Nine of these were deemed worthy of award and one prizewinning project was finally chosen. On April 7th 2000, the jury voted unanimously for Peter Cook and Colin Fournier’s design. In February 2001 financing was approved in the Styrian Landtag and in the Graz municipal council.
Architektur Consult (Hermann Eisenköck und Herfried Peyker) became the Austrian partner office for the British architects. Together with Spacelab (Peter Cook and Colin Fournier) and Bollinger + Grohmann Ingenieure they formed ARGE Kunsthaus, which realised the Kunsthaus.
The call for tenders
The object of the competition was ‘the construction of the Kunsthaus, a museum gallery with the incorporation of the listed Iron House.’ It was to accommodate ‘exhibition, media centre, a forum for photography, gastronomy, commercial amenities and the necessary side rooms.’ The intention at that time was even to give the "Eiserne Haus" (Iron House) 'a flat-roof terrace with a penthouse.'
The size of the construction site was given as 3,441 m2 and 1,950 m2 (at that time still with a superstructure above Lendkai and Murufer). Attached to the call was a spatial and functional programme for the Kunsthaus Graz developed by Dieter Bogner in September 1999, commissioned by the City of Graz.
The jury and their reasons
The jury consisted of Odile Decq, Dietmar Feichtinger, Kasper König, Harald Szeemann, Thorsen Kjetil, Dieter Bogner, Wolfgang Lorenz, Klaus Gartler, Gerfried Sperl and Rudolf Schilcher; the chairperson was Volker Giencke. Peter Cook and Colin Fournier’s proposal was chosen because ‘the Kunsthaus is not a conventional building, not a building that should or could be compared with existing buildings. It evades current architectural interpretations with bravura, in that it does not follow any prevailing trends, but rather sets them. Its function as a magnet for distinctiveness shows itself in the playful lightness of artistic creativity.’