2.2. Production of Landscape Relief Model and Construction of Shelter Hall
In 1890, the total presumptive production time was still optimistically estimated to be three to four years at the maximum. After lengthy discussions, eventually a horizontal scale of 1:10,000 and a vertical scale of 1:5000 were chosen, implying a twofold height exaggeration. This vertical super elevation was meant to result in a more realistic accentuation of the pronounced relief in the Alps, which better corresponds to the common “bottom-up” viewing habits, although the slopes of the mountains, thus, do not reflect their true inclination. For the entire depicted region, a size of 19.5 × 9.35 m2
was eventually selected, for the sake of easier production by breaking it down into portions of 1.8 × 1.4 m², measures that correspond to the size of the magnified 1:25,000 map sheets [1
As a cartographic basis for the generation of the physical relief model, the original surveys of the k. und k. Militärgeographisches Institut
(Imperial Military Geographic Institute in Vienna) at a scale of 1:25,000 were used, which cover Carinthia and its surroundings in 63 map sheets. With the aid of a pantograph, the 100 m contour lines were then transferred onto cardboard at a scale of 1:25,000. Subsequently, these thin layers were in their correct geoposition mounted upon “bridges” of fine-planed wooden bars and discs, then fixed over each other in layers, and eventually, the remaining intermediate spaces were filled with pug, thereby carefully elaborating the characteristic relief features of the terrain [1
At this point, it may be worthwhile to mention that for a scale of 1:10,000 nominally, each 10 m elevation contour—the usual equidistance at scales of 1:10,000 (cf. [2
])—would, with an exaggeration factor of 2, have corresponded to a plank thickness of 2 mm. These “slices” were subsequently supposed to be cut out from panels.
From all the individual wood-clay models, casting molds out of gypsum were made, which were then grouted with white cement. Thanks to a significant financial support by the Savings Bank of Villach (Villacher Zeitung, 4.9.1910, p. 5) in autumn 1892, the basement construction was completed, and under the guidance of College Fachlehrer
(German for: specialist subject teacher) Dominik Haubner,
the assembling and mounting of all the Reliefsektionen
began. A remarkable fact is that for this work, according exactly to the four cardinal directions, the curvature of the earth was taken into consideration. This amounted in a maximum height difference of 35 mm in cross direction and 70 mm lengthways [1
]. The basement was a concrete foundation especially prepared for the landscape relief model in the park beside the college, the Schillerpark
in Villach downtown.
During these works, a provisional low-level roof was supposed to protect the growing landscape relief model from rain and snow. It was, however, anything but waterproof and, thus, the condition of the relief model deteriorated repeatedly. At an early stage the construction of an “ordentlicher Pavillon
“, an appropriate shelter building was envisaged, the costs of which were estimated to amount to approximately 30,000 Crowns. Its size was planned to be 12.5 m × 25 m. Furthermore, rolling shutters on every side were envisaged in order to compensate for the changing elevation and azimuth of the sun illumination. Regarding the vertical viewing angle of the visitors, the floor of the corridor around the landscape relief model was planned in a way that, assuming an average tallness, an eye height of 2.5 m was permitted. In addition, plans were made for a catwalk gallery at a height of 5 to 6 m ([3
], p. 5; cf. also Figure 2
and text further below).
After the change of Director Ernst Pliwa from the Villach Technical College into the Ministry of Education in Vienna at the beginning of 1899, the foreman of the college, Josef Paikert, assumed the guidance of all activities, and after his untimely death, the very capable school caretaker Josef Rautter took over, who had already been responsible for the production of the casting molds and the molding of the individual sections since the beginning of the work. His son, a graduate of the Technical College in Villach, assisted him, and thus, in 1907, the mounting of all sections of the landscape relief model covering Carinthia proper could be completed. In order to backfill the regions outside Carinthia, Rautter, his son and the sculptor Peter Piron, also an alumnus of the Villach Technical College, completed the whole 182 m² area based on map sheets provided by the Chairman of the Section Villach of the Austro-German Alpine Club, Josef Aichinger.
Since the Section Villach of the German and Austrian Alpine Club could not procure the funds for the completion and the shelter-building construction of the landscape relief model, in the same year of 1907, the Relief von Kärnten
was committed to the City of Villach. Subject to the influence of Hofrat
(an Austrian title for Privy Councillor) Ernst Pliwa
(an Austrian title for head of ministerial department) at the Ministry of Public Works in Vienna—and Feldmarschalleutnant
(German for Field Marshal Lieutenant) Othmar Crusiz
, substantial donations from this ministry allowed the stylish and functional construction of the shelter building. It was erected according to the plans of the Municipal Baurat
(an Austrian title corresponding to Chief Construction Engineer) of Villach Rudolf Müller
and finished in 1912, i.e., 19 or 20 years later than initially assumed [1
]. The total expenses eventually amounted to 20,000 Crowns.
From the above statements, it can already be inferred that the whole production process proved to be more intricate and complex and, thus, much more time-consuming than expected. The major reason for this was that it turned out to be extremely difficult to obtain sufficiently detailed and accurate maps at the required scale, in particular for the Slovenian and Italian regions [4
]. Interestingly enough, for the latter ones, it was almost impossible to acquire adequate terrain information.
In 1913, the painting of the relief model became due. After short negotiations, the internationally renowned geosculptor Paul Gabriel Oberlercher
(6 January 1859–11 February 1915) was persuaded to accomplish this task [4
]. He worked devotedly from September 1912 until June 1913, except for the severest winter months. Oberlercher
, born as the son of a country teacher and sacristan in Sankt Peter im Holz not too far from Villach on 1 January 1859, was an Austrian elementary school teacher. He worked and lived in Carinthia and died only one year after finishing the landscape relief model of Carinthia on 11 February 1915 in its capital Klagenfurt. Although he learned the art of terrain modelling as an autodidact, he may be considered the best Austrian modeler (although the world-famous geosculptor Toni Mair
, 30 April 1940–8 August 2015, who lived in Switzerland, was actually also an Austrian citizen, born near Meran but grown up in Innsbruck). He used the same techniques as the famous Swiss relief-model artists of that time to create a total of 37 landscape relief models. Apart from in-depth field surveys resulting in numerous landscape sketches, he also used a self-constructed theodolite. His relief model of the Ankogel-Hochalm Massif (1889), where the Oberlercherspitze
(3051 m) was named after him, brought him international recognition. In 1894, he finished his main work, the large-size model (7.0 m × 3.5 m) of the Großglockner, Austria’s highest peak, at a scale of 1:2000. In the following years, he created numerous landscape relief models of regions in and outside Europe, frequently only based on the information of moderately reliable maps and few pictures. Many of them were then copied for universities and museums. More than 100 copies of his Schulrelief von Kärnten
(Carinthia) (1893/94) went into the schools of Carinthia (cf. also [5
Oberlercher emphasized the rocks in relation to the surrounding terrain by using distinct brownish-grey colors, and glaciers had the most natural appearance. Also, individual rocky ledges (German: Schrofen), talus slopes, and high-altitude alpine pastures got their specific, natural colors. The coniferous forests of the Alps were painted in a darker green, river forests in the valleys and fields got lighter green hues, and swamps a brownish green color. Running waters were drawn in dark, standing waters colored in light blue, a pinkish grey color was used for settlements, and even isolated farmsteads of alpine farmers were precisely indicated in order to give an impression of the altitude of the productive soil. In contrast to contemporary maps, railways were not painted in black but in the most intense of all colors, in red, whereas roads and paths were, for identical reasons, indicated in black.
The artistic and realistic painting, which was completed in laborious manual labor, allowed us to experience the landscape relief model from the surrounding floor as a sort of micro-scenery and from the gallery above as a sort of map projection (cf. [1
The actual painting was limited to the 1913 extent of Carinthia including the border seam to East Tyrol (German: Osttirol
) in order to allow a complete coherent surface representation of the Großglockner Massif. The neighboring Habsburg countries of Salzburg, Styria (German: Steiermark
), Slovenian Kranj (German: Krain
), as well as Italy were left white. The former Habsburgian Crown Land Carinthia (Kärnten
) also comprehended the Mieß
(Slovenian: Meza) Valley, the region of Seeland
(Slovenian: Jezersko), and the Kanaltal
(Italian: Val Canale) down to Pontafel
(Italian: Pontebba). After World War I, these regions were assigned to Yugoslavia and Italy. This is why, today, the landscape relief model shows a rather wide border seam in the South. In 1918/1919, the regions conveyed away were whitewashed. When in World War II Upper Kranj (German: Oberkrain
), the part of Slovenia annexed by the Deutsches Reich
was, for a short time, supposed to be assigned to Gau Carinthia (German: Gau Kärnten,
the Nazi Germany administrative division), the idea came up to extend the landscape relief model correspondingly. Fortunately, this has been postponed by the municipal administration of Villach until “nach dem Endsieg
” (after the Ultimate Victory
), so that today’s situation remained [4
In order to obtain a most natural (over)view of the landscape, a catwalk or gallery at a height of about 3 m was built. From its elevated positions, the vertical exaggeration recedes, and the impression of the landscape relief becomes sort of normal, like from a prominent peak. Further, the size and the elevated viewing possibility allow for both an excellent overview as well as a quick orientation, and the distortion due to the height exaggeration vanishes. With its final size of 182 m2, the landscape relief model of Carinthia was, and still is, the largest of its kind in Europe. Today, both the sheltering structure and the relief model are protected monuments.
“ or ”Pavillon
“ (shelter building) was constructed in 1912, based on the plans of the Villach City Baurat
(an Austrian title for municipal construction engineers), the civil engineer Rudolf Müller.
Initially, it received natural light through a large glass roof (Figure 2
a–c). Since this sort of natural illumination did not prove itself in practice due to interaction with the sun radiation, only a few years later, the building got a roof membrane made of tin and an electric lighting (Figure 3
Three weeks after the official opening of the Relief von Kärnten,
more than 1000 visitors were counted [7
] (p. 5). Less than only four weeks after the opening, the landscape terrain model had been visited by more than 2000 persons. According to the local newspaper Villacher Zeitung
of 24 August 1913, all visitors were amazed and delighted by the splendidness of this creation. The author of the article praised the natural appearance and uniqueness of the object and underlined its attractiveness for the local population as well as for tourists. It was predicted that the Relief von Kärnten
would, in the future, act as a prominent tourist attraction. The volkswirtschaftlicher Verein
(national-economic association) “Oberkärnten
” = Western = more alpine “Carinthia
”) made it their business to promote this “sculptural piece of art“ in Austrian newspapers and newspapers abroad in order to draw attention to this unique object of interest ([8
], p. 5).
In 1986/1987, the building got a thorough renovation and the landscape relief model was also refurbished. Two years later, in 1988/1989, the already yellowed terrain painting was restored by the Tyrolian geosculptor Jörg Covi
. Within the scope of this renovation, the previously white neighboring regions of Carinthia also got a topographically correct coloring, so that today the whole area of 182 m2
shows a “real landscape” and not only the whitish terrain relief [4
The large-area Relief von Kärnten
owes its existence essentially to an alpinism, educational, and local-history motivation but—to be frank—also, to quite some extent, a patriotic–nationalistic motivation. At times when eidetic cartographic (3D) visualizations did not yet exist, not to mention aerial and satellite imagery or virtual digital panoramas—things that can be taken for granted today, this Landscape Relief Model of Carinthia
played a seminal role (Figure 4
, cf. [4
]). Also today, during a period of ever increasing digitalization, this genuine landscape relief model, following the postulation of the world-famous geosculptor Toni Mair, has to be considered both a piece of excellent handicraft and a scientific work of art
]), even if we are not taking into account the magnificent value-adding by means of most advanced IT technology (see next chapter).