Kulturzentrum Mattersburg



Mattersburg, Austria

47.7382, 16.40758


Herwig Udo Graf


Built in


When it was built in the 1970s the Kulturzentrum Mattersburg played an important role in the cultural life of the province of Burgenland. After almost forty years, the Kulturzentrum was closed for renovation in 2014.  The new plans where met with fierce resistance. In May 2018 a new proposal was submitted suggesting to transform the KUZ into a centre for literature.

When it was built in the 1970s the Kulturzentrum Mattersburg (KUZ for short) played an important role in the cultural life of the province of Burgenland. And not just that: the KUZ was also the perfect illustration of a successful combination of different building types and functions. It was, after all, the first cultural centre in the country. The building complex planned by the architect Herwig Udo Graf was an outstanding example of the architectural style known as ‘brutalism’. Today, it is again considered as a key work of brutalism.

With its different buildings, secondary school and gym, the KUZ stands as an ensemble comprised of several elements. It really is an impressive expression of brutalism, a style known primarily for its massive, elemental shapes and a preference for exposed concrete as the principal material. Building work on the entire complex began in 1972, with the official opening taking place on 22 May 1976.

After almost forty years, the Kulturzentrum was closed for renovation in 2014. When the regional councillor for culture, Helmut Bieler, submitted his plans for the KUZ’s demolition, they were met with fierce resistance. They even led to the establishment of a citizens’ platform (‘Rettet das Kulturzentrum Mattersburg’ – Save the Mattersburg Cultural Centre), and more than 2,000 signatures were collected calling for the KUZ to be preserved. After heated discussions over the protection of monuments, ultimately the plans had to be altered.

The revised renovation plans incorporated parts of the old KUZ, but again they were rejected by the public. The discontent over each new plan submitted is due mainly to the fact that the preservation of this historic building was only partial and therefore inadequate. Expert opinion by the initiators of the DOCOMOMO platform (documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the modern movement) confirmed the outstanding status of the building complex. In September 2017 the case was even brought before the People’s Advocate Board (Volksanwaltschaft) and debated in the Austrian parliament.

In May 2018 a new proposal was submitted: the incorporation of the regional library (Landesbibliothek), regional archives (Landesarchiv), an adult education college (Volkshochschule) and the house of literature are to transform the KUZ into a centre for literature. The protected heritage section of the KUZ is to be renovated and the sections that are not under a protection order will be pulled down. The project is due to start in 2019 and scheduled for completion in 2021.




1976Cultural Centre

2018 Closed for renovation


1976 Land Burgenland

2018 Land Burgenland


1976 Good

2018 Fair

Property Management


2018 BELIG - Beteiligungs- und Liegenschafts GmbH

Form of government

1976 Parliamentary Republic

2018 Parliamentary Republic

Spatial Planning Agency



Type of heritage and protection


2018 National Monument (BDA 17.1.2018 GdStr 914/4; 914/3; 914/2)

Interview with Johann Gallis


The Cultural Centre itself is a brutalist structure, as we would say today. Back then they used the term fair-faced concrete structures. And the entire complex was built in that style. A real feature of the complex is that it really reacts to the topography. You’ve got that slight slope down to the stream and originally the entire installation was accessed via a stairway, which embedded the whole complex into an artistically designed concrete landscape. And you can still see that very well with the open-air arena, which has been preserved to this day, with these flower planters. So, where the architecture of the building really does extend out into the landscape. – And generally speaking, you have to realise that brutalism very much defined the province of Burgenland at that time. Mainly by architects like Graf and Sauer, who were very well networked back then and took part in numerous competitions. As a result, they turned this brutalism into a sort of official style for the region. Because lots of public buildings were built in this way. – So, yes, the Cultural Centre opened in 1976 and was in use until 2014. It’s clear to see now that huge changes and cuts have been made over time compared with the original project from the 1970s. – In 2014 it emerged that the federal province of Burgenland as the building owner wanted to demolish the building. Renovating the complex was simply not cost-effective from the province’s point of view. So they said it was to be knocked down, but then a strong headwind built up, as it were. Namely a petition with 2,000 signatures. And because of that, there were talks and then they said, ok, we’ll keep key features. But no-one really knew what those key features were. In other words, they were not defined.

Interview with Gerald H.

Local resident

It’s stood empty for four years already. As it were. And when a building stands empty for four years, nothing about its structure ever changes. It’s just going to get worse if you do nothing about it. I have no influence over what’s going to happen in the future. All I’m saying is that the municipality is not doing enough. But that’s another story. They’ve already renovated secondary school. So why didn’t they renovate that at the same time? It’s because one has to do with the province and the other with the municipality. – It’s a different type of use. But in Mattersburg we don’t have a function hall, a large hall where you can stage events. This would have been – actually is – the largest hall in Mattersburg.

Interview with Martina F.

Local resident

The way it was built, right? But it was used by all the schoolchildren in Mattersburg and the schoolchildren from the surrounding area. All the theatre plays were put on there and lots of balls. So you can say that it was used every day. They also held training courses inside, as far as I know. And now the schoolchildren from Mattersburg and its surroundings have to travel to Eisenstadt and that’s a real pain – and costly. – Nothing’s been happening lately! No idea what’s going to happen. – I’d be in favour of a renovation project. After all, the building isn’t that old. Structurally, it wasn’t badly built. It was never particularly aesthetic, but it was functional. So if they can do it up, why not? It would be the quickest way!