Günther Domenig & Eilfried Huth

Stadt Ragnitz, 1963-1969

In 1969, Eilfried Huth and Günther Domenig won the Urbanism and Architecture competition in Cannes, with a megastructure project they had already developed in 1963 for the city of Ragnitz, Austria, prize awarded by a jury that included Louis Kahn and Robert Le Ricolais. The project consists of an industrially prefabricated infrastructure into which housing units made of synthetic materials are embedded in “clusters”. As the structure frees most of the terrain underneath, more space is available for leisure activities and green spaces in close proximity to the housing. Here the traffic flow is included in the plan and parking is hidden away underground. A secondary structure comprised of staggered housing units of varying sizes clad in climatic skins is grafted onto the primary urban framework. Most of the individual dwellings contain several levels and include uncovered areas such as terraces and hanging gardens. Consumption and the decision-making power over use replace the idea of ownership. In this “industrialized urban habitat,” architecture ensures a “supply of sensorial and biological requirements.” With this megastructure project the city is defined by its capacity for endless growth, its modularity and planning flexibility thanks to its open framework. The urban space becomes a network of these clusters of pod dwellings grafted onto it at will. In the critic Reyner Banham’s 1976 historical work dedicated to megastructures (Urban Futures of the Recent Past), he considered the Stadt Ragnitz project as the most complex and well-designed of them all.

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