A quick glance at Tyrol, or any other region, may call up characteristic images that articulate uniqueness to the region. In this case, what are the distinctive elements that make Tyrolean architecture ‘Tyrolean’? Do we examine material qualities that might point to an origin of architectural form that at one point was dependent upon locally accessible materials? Is it useful to examine tectonic features in these buildings to see if some essential cultural interpretation has become embodied in the built environment? Would it be possible to articulate a formula from which to identify, and then recreate Tyrolean architectural features?
We began our analysis in the buildings we photographed around the city, but we stumbled upon something quite intriguing that made the whole statement clear to us about the essential truth of contemporary Tyrolean architecture. What we found was a LEGO house that was for sale on ebay from the 1970’s that was referred to as ‘Tirolerhaus’. The little house used all the pieces that any other LEGO model might contain; therefore, besides the particular assemblage of the pieces, there was nothing that really made the house distinctive from any other LEGO house model. What if this was also the case for real houses?
We began to investigate the pieces and building products that made up homes in Tirol. We found that there was a whole catalogue of products and companies that intentionally appropriated the name Tirol. With the ubiquity of objects, products, and advertising that contained the name ‘Tirol’, we began to understand that Tirol was like a brand name.
Moreover, it was a brand name that had no apparent authority other than perhaps the state itself. There was no formula for a regional architecture, but rather Tyrolean Architecture were precisely a catalogue of elements that used Tirol as a marketing strategy regardless of origin, or resemblance to anything genuinely Tyrolean.