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BOOK

REVIEW

Architektur_STMK Haus der Architektur Graz, 2005. Euro 25 (£17.50)

Architektur_STMK is a companion to the earlier Graz Architecture, published when Graz was European City of Culture in 2003. This new title deals with architecture in Styria - the region centred on Graz - and while it is only in German, a separate booklet in English contains the introductory essay and all the building descriptions.

The Graz guide covered the extraordinarily inventive flowering of the Graz School - relatively hardline Modernist work, more Swiss than Scandinavian - from the mid1980s. A similar period and selectorial eye is at work here, as the architects fan out from Graz into the wider countryside.

Despite Michael Szyszkowitz's opening essay on responding to the local landscape - one of towns and villages among plains and mountains - what strikes you most about the buildings is their consistency. An architectural policeman might suspect an aesthetic cartel at work.

There is some contrast with the same architects' urban buildings - digging into sites, the occasional curve, and especially the use of timber - but less than might be expected.

Local identity gets modest response. Formal clarity reigns.

After Szyszkowitz's introduction, almost all the book comprises one to four pages per building, each with at least one image and smallscale plan, plus a very brief outline and insightful appraisal.

This informative new pocket guide (12 x 6cm) makes the case well that, when in Graz, you should journey outside the city too. There is much of interest to experience.

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