Higher Ground

New extension by Gerner+Gerner Plus

Austrian architects Gerner+Gerner Plus go one step beyond with an unlikely addition to a 1930s German house in a village near Basle
Wallpaper* magazine issue 136

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Husband and wife team Andreas and Gerda Gerner have had their own practice in Vienna, called Gerner+Gerner Plus, for over twelve years. Their highly successful formula of breaking with convention yet adapting appropriately to the location has kept their team of 16 members busy with some 60 completed projects to date, ranging from social housing to private residences, loft conversions and wineries. Their signature forms are edgy and angular, often floating on V-shaped supports, and it comes as no surprise when both partners site the early 20th century Russian Suprematist painter and architect El Lissitzky as an influence.

Their predominantly steel and glass buildings tend to be transparent, cantilevered and reduced in terms of both materials and detailing. Including the landscape into the buildings is an important consideration for them and this is often achieved with an element of the building jutting out of its footprint to greet the best local view with welcoming, open glass walls: “The periscope is our favourite form”, says Gerda Gerner, and it is a recurrent theme in many of their projects including the fabulous Sued.see house (2002, cover story in W* 61), in Burgenland, east Austria. But despite similarities in focus, each gerner+gernerplus construction is clearly individual and tailored to the circumstances of its location. The Triath gallery, featured here, for example, is their first building in reinforced concrete – not because they just felt like it, but, as Gerda explains, because it is a local speciality: “the quality of workmanship in the area is very good – it is hard to get firms in Vienna that can do this”.