Gustav Peichl, born in Vienna in 1928 was one of the greatest and best-known personalities in Austrian post-war cultural history. Gustav Peichl died on Sunday November 17th, 2019. He was an architect, cartoonist, university professor, teacher, author, editor, graphic artist, city planner, landscape architect, designer, book and exhibition organizer, journalist, critic, actor, mentor, influencer, human connoisseur, word game master, tamer and activist. Romana Nußbaumer of the Academy of fine arts, Vienna in her heartfelt obituary for Gustav recalls, “Once he said to me, out of nowhere, between door and hinge: "You know - I am a magician".”
When asked by Bauwelt in an interview on his 90th birthday in 2018, about his multifaceted nature of works from caricaturist to university professor to running his architecture studio, Gustav modestly answered, “I always drew at school. Back then, my ambitious mother said that when everyone says he draws so well, we let him be a builder. She thought you made a lot of money there, and I said that I don't want to be a builder, but an architect. Then I went to the trade school. That was still in the Nazi era. In 1949 I was able to switch to Clemens Holzmeister at the Academy of Fine Arts.
After the war we had four occupying powers in Vienna. Since I had no money, I drew the fat Russians with the thick medals. They liked that. I made my first money by sneaking, because I always exchanged the bad cigarettes from the Russians for something. That's how I lived well during my studies.
There was a newspaper in every zone of occupation, including one in the American one: That was the New Courier. I signed the Red Army with Peichl.
The editor-in-chief, an American, had said we would print it. But he asked me where I live. In the 2nd district in Vienna, that was a Russian district. The Russians had tolerated everything, that was humorous and nice, only they had no stomach for cartoons about Stalin and the Red Army. Those were holy. So that was far too dangerous, so I had to come up with a pseudonym. That's when I came up with “Ironimus”. I thought it would be a week or a month. It's been over sixty years now.”
His most important and influential buildings were the ORF state studios (1969-72) in in Linz, Salzburg, Innsbruck and Dornbirn. All of them based on the same design and construction principle, with the offices as circular sectors around a central hall. The design and elements of the buildings were reminiscent of modules, vehicles and shipbuilding. At the end of the 1960s, he anticipated the American high-tech movement with the sparkling chrome installations, railings and antennas that were used as architectural elements through deliberate design transformation.
Other noted works of Gustav Piechl are the earth radio station in Aflenz in Styria (1976-84), the phosphate elimination plant in Berlin (1980-85) and the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn (1986-92). These works were at the pulse of their time and were highly regarded, criticized and published. The aura of these works, their intellectual concepts, with their architectural drawings and everything related to receptivity, films, interviews, books, etc. have been well documented, exhibited and celebrated in architectural history.
Since the 1940s he published political caricatures first under the pseudonym "PEICH", then under "Ironimus" in the "Press", the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" and in "ORF": "I am a cartoonist because I am a political person, but I believe that architecture also has an immense political content, because entire social systems make use of the architect as a tool, "he said in an interview with the" weekly press "in 1972. His first "Ironimus" cartoon appeared on October 9, 1949 in the daily newspaper "Die Presse", and until 2013 Peichl drew around 14,000 caricatures.
In 1955 he started his own architecture office. In 1964 Peichl founded the magazine "Bau - Schrift für Architektur und Städtebau" with Hans Hollein , Walter Pichler and Oswald Oberhuber . From 1973 to 1996 he took over the leadership of the master class for architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts, 1987/1988 he was rector of the academy. Since 1977 he has published the "Vienna Academy Series" of the Academy of Fine Arts.
In 1989 Peichl again built an elementary school in Vienna-Favoriten. In 1993 he set up the rehearsal stage for the Burgtheater on the Arsenal grounds in Vienna. Together with Roland Rainer , Peichl realized the Akademiehof Karlsplatz in Vienna from 1993 to 1996. His last projects were the Donaucity skyscraper (1994 to 1996), the ORF state studio St. Pölten (1998), together with Boris Podrecca the Millennium Tower (1998), the Caricature Museum in Krems (opening 2001), the Wiener Messe (2004) , the Toscanahof Vienna (2005) and the House of MercyVienna (2006). Gustav Peichl also takes a critical stance on current Viennese urban planning projects and the redesign of the Prater .
The company Peichl und Partner Architekten was taken over by Christoph Lechner in 2014, since 2012 the company has been called Christoph Lechner & Partner ZT.
Legacy and archive
In Germany, Peichl celebrated the greatest success as an architect: in 1986 he won the competition to build the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn (completed in 1992), in 1987 his design for the extension to the Städelsche Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt received first prize (completed in 1990). In 2013, a Gustav Peichl archive was opened in Berlin at the Akademie der Künste at Pariser Platz 4. It contains documents on his construction projects developed for Germany, including the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn and the extension for the Städel in Frankfurt am Main, the Werkraumtheater of the Münchner Kammerspiele (1998 to 2002) and the daycare center of the German Bundestag in the Spreebogen (1998 to 1999). The archive comprises around 3,100 plans, drawings, sketches and five models for 23 German construction projects.
The artist was a member of the Künstlerhaus Vienna, honorary member of the Association of German Architects, member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin, honorary member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and has been a member of the artist association MAERZ since the late 1960s.
On the initiative of graduates and friends with the support of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, the Society of Friends of Fine Arts and private sponsors, the Gustav Peichl Prize for Architectural Drawing was launched in his honor in 2014, which is awarded to students of the Academy of fine arts Vienna every two years.
All our texts and many of our images appear under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License (CC BY-SA). All our content is written and edited by our community.