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Monday, September 09, 2013

High School Extension with "Crinkled Wall"

High School Extension with "Crinkled Wall" in Kufstein, Austria, by Johannes Wiesflecker and Karl-Heinz Klopf, 2012

Paper is a suitable metaphor for knowledge, considering how ideas have been expressed and shared via books and other paper media for centuries. Even as digital technologies are supplanting books, newspaper, and magazines as the preferred means of sharing information, paper still plays a large role in learning. We write on paper, we draw on paper, we still read things on paper, and we throw paper away. In this sense, especially the latter case, it is appropriate that artist Karl-Heinz Klopf has contributed a "Crinkled Wall" (commissioned by BIG Art) to the High School Extension in Kufstein designed by Johannes Wiesflecker.

The location of the Crinkled Wall is strategic. It sits perpendicular and adjacent to the street, giving the school a distinctive public face; it faces an open space to ensure it is visible from a distance; and it faces south, shielding some of the classrooms from direct sunlight (they gain sunlight from the sides, one of which is angled in the tapered plan to capture some direct light from the south).

While the crinkled wall resembles a crumpled piece of paper, it has to be built from something more substantial. Concrete is the resulting material, and views from the side (the two photos above) make it appear like the surface is thick, as it wraps the corner. But as the photo below attests, the wall is relatively thin, hung a few feet in front of the classroom windows.

The thinness of the concrete panels accentuates the allusion to paper, a material whose form is mirrored from one side to the other when crumpled, though from the inside the materiality of the Crinkled Wall—its texture, its formwork holes—comes to the fore. The same happens on the exterior when it rains, turning something abstract into something dripping with its reality. This is important, because Klopf opted to sculpt something tactile rather than something made of bits and bytes. An LED facade can also express knowledge, learning, and information. By selecting paper, Klopf makes us aware of the analog-digital shift underway (computers may have a "recycling bin" with "wastepaper" in them, but they aren't the same as the real thing), helping us to realize it is not absolute or simple.

Photographs: David Schreyer

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