Competition for AHS Klostergasse Vienna

On 2 June 2023, Ralo Mayer won BIG’s artistic competition for the AHS Klostergasse in Vienna.

The jury explained their decision as follows:
“Ralo Mayer places his interventions at two key locations on the school premises. They form something of a spatial-temporal bracket, creating spaces to reflect history, the present and the future. The openness of the ‘art terms’ he uses calls, with remarkable ease, for individual reflective processes that never come to a standstill. They seek to be re-deciphered over and over again. The choice of materials for the intervention was a very precise decision. By making use of upcycling or by reusing old parts of the building, Ralo Mayer reflects on its history. His artistic interventions seamlessly blend into the architecture. Their expressiveness allows not only for the creation of an identity in the present, but also has the potential to remain relevant in the future and to clearly mark the school as a place of reflective education and development.”

Winning project: Zwei Bodensupplierungen (Two Stand-In Floors)

Ralo Mayer proposes two text-based floor interventions for the entrance hall and the courtyard. His pieces are based on his reflections on temporality and change, as well as the school’s desire to incorporate some element from the old school building in the newly renovated building. To fulfil the school’s request, the old floor that was demolished during the renovations will be reused in combination with coloured cement to form a new terrazzo flooring in the entrance hall. Only when the geometrically arranged symbols are interpreted as letters do the words ÜBERGESTERN and VORMORGEN (a play on words combining the German terms “übermorgen”, i.e. the day after tomorrow, and “vorgestern”, the day before yesterday) become legible. These words constitute a playful commentary on the historical meaning of the entrance hall. As far as the courtyard goes, the playing court is resurfaced in a blue colour, also featuring letters that look like geometric shapes at first. When viewed from above, the words VERLERNEN and LERNEN (to unlearn and to learn) emerge, which address the theme of reacting to change as well as the uncertainty that comes with it.

Nouvelle Vague

The underlying idea of the proposal is to make time visible. In contrast to spatial structures, time remains abstract and intangible. Nouvelle Vague explores the idea of the interaction between space and time. To this end, Irena Eden & Stijn Lernout propose using key data relevant to the school’s past, determining the position of the sun at those specific times, and projecting them onto the building complex. The artists create an abstract light drawing based on the consequent shadows, which is then to be seen in four interventions on the premises. The design covers the walls and floors in different materialities in the schoolyard; in the entrance hall, it is a light object on the ceiling and a curtain to the music room; and towering over the outer facade and courtyard facade is a glowstick that is reminiscent of a sundial. Coloured LED fields on the glowstick also show the time.


Agnes Fuchs’s proposal consists of two interventions: Sonic Curtains, comprising wave packets on glass in the entrance foyer, and circuitry, the playing field in the schoolyard. She proposes affixing screen-printed designs as well as delicately coloured glass to the glass surfaces in the entrance hall. The Sonic Curtains on the glass wall between the entrance hall and the music room depict music intervals and the physical nature of notes, frequencies and waves. The glass wall adjacent to the library shows motifs including the heartbeat as a reference to language and literature. Other glass designs adorn the common areas and the accessible side entrance. Agnes Fuchs envisions the playing surface in the schoolyard as a hybrid area, defined by two circuits (hence the name circuitry), pointing to the seemingly paradoxical situation (electricity and water) that defines the spatial expansion of the school (the transformer station and public bathing facility allowing the creation of new spaces).

Bits of the self

Marlies Pöschl proposes an artistic citizen science project that is based on a participatory process in collaboration with students. This project requires students to focus their attention on body tracking tools in connection with diet and energy. The aim is to invite young people to become acquainted with these technologies by doing their own research and to gain a better understanding of their bodies, while also calling into question the underlying norms. The creative and/or critical data visualisations created in the course of the project are to be the basis for the design of the glass surfaces in the entrance hall. The research carried out by the students will be documented on a project website. In addition, some of the visual materials will be used to design tableware for the school canteen.

Dichtung (Insulation)

Mathias Pöschl proposes an architectural intervention using simple measures, with a special focus on the glass surfaces in the entrance hall and on the long wall in the schoolyard. His design involves painting a black ribbon using insulating bitumen paint. The ribbon along the schoolyard wall is intended to highlight this boundary; the application inside creates a visual separator, where the black surfaces appear matt in the entrance hall, but reflective in the music room and library. This type of painted surface is a reference to school blackboards, and the surfaces can also be used and adorned by the students themselves. Because this intervention is so simple in its realisation, the remaining project budget will be divided up between the school’s music department and the library, for the purchase of books, instruments and supplies.

Niveau anheben (Raising the Level)

The concept developed by Adrien Tirtiaux and Ursula Gaisbauer is inspired by the architectural design, which connects the different structures and their different historical backgrounds on one continuous level. The title, Niveau anheben (Raising the Level), alludes to the architectural level, but can also be interpreted in the context of school and education. The intervention runs through the entire building: a line drawn on the exterior facade marks the defined ±0 level of the historical building. The second intervention is a continuous, light-green ribbon across the ground-floor windows. This serves as a visual separator and creates a bright and airy atmosphere inside. The last element of this three-part intervention uses the wall in the schoolyard, which is coated with shiny, bright yellow paint. This is a clearly abstract signal that is also reminiscent of the body of a bubble level.