The “Hof zu Jeeß,” located about 20 kilometers south of Graz, was first mentioned in a document in 1571. Its name was later changed to “Mallerhof,” after the family that owned it, and remained under the ownership of nobility for centuries.
In the mid 17th century, the property came into the possession of Gottfried Freiherr von Eibiswald. He expanded the manor into an aristocratic castle and gave it the name “Eibisfeld.”
The founding ancestor of the Conrad-Eybesfeld family was Joseph Conrad, born around 1725, whose sixth and last child, Sigmund, was born in 1780. The latter acquired the estate in 1851 for his second son Sigmund, who was elevated to the rank of baron by Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1870 and became Minister of Culture and Education in 1880.
Eybesfeld Castle has been under the continuous ownership of the Conrad-Eybesfeld family ever since.
The family coat of arms was granted by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1870 on the occasion of Sigmund’s conferral of nobility.
In 2005, West 8 was commissioned to bring the coat of arms up to date. The result was adopted as an ornament in the construction of the new castle entrance gates and, with some artistic intervention, was used several times in the redesign of the Seven Deadly Sins guest rooms in the Kavalierhaus. This contemporary interpretation is intended to keep the coat of arms alive.
The coat of arms, together with a plan view of the castle, was also used in 2019 as a template for Eybesfeld’s current logo. The castle is an abstracted summarization of the family’s residence. Like the shield, the shape of the floor plan is divided into horizontal stripes crossed by a banderole. The lines in the horizontal stripe form a staircase symbolizing the ascending development from the past to the modern age.
Bertran Conrad-Eybesfeld (*1953), Sigmund’s fifth-generation descendant, manages the estate together with his family, positioning it as a cultural and economic factor in southern Styria.
“Our task is to keep the whole estate alive and to guide it into the future in a contemporary manner.”
The castle park was established around 1880 in the style of an English landscape park, and has been expanded regularly since 1976.
The plateau on which the castle and outbuildings are located was doubled in size through the construction of several ponds on the lower terrace; it currently comprises 18 hectares. In recent years, a three-kilometer network of paths and an earthen embankment have been built on the eastern and northern borders of the castle park.
The estate in its present form consists of the castle, the castle park, farmland and forests, the fishing rights in the Lassnitz River, and the castle outbuildings.
All buildings have been extensively renovated in recent years. The net living space amounts to 7,000 m². This has made possible the construction of 70 apartments and 150 m² of office space in the outbuildings. The castle park features several art projects created in collaboration with conceptual artists such as Heimo Zobernig, Michael Schuster, Max Neuhaus, or Sol LeWitt, among others.
Owned by the Conrad-Eybesfeld family for 170 years
Bernd Oppl, born in 1980 in Innsbruck, uses his work to explore the spaces we move through: spaces created by others or those we create for ourselves, real or virtual architectures, external or internal, physical or mental spaces.
The spaces themselves become the protagonists in his objects and installations, telling us what is or is not happening within them. His piece NO FUTURE was created for the Eybesfeld castle park in discussion and collaboration with Florian Conrad-Eybesfeld.
The work of artist Elisabeth Molin, born 1985 in Copenhagen, deals with perceptual errors and distortions of time. Her piece Echo adds a wall clock to Bernd Oppl’s work—a clock that has neither a dial nor hands, but rather leads us into a parallel world in which time is perceived as something that cannot be measured.
A grounded giant—stripped of its original purpose—appears among densely overgrown vegetation. Once a repository of fossil energy, its form has now become a passageway. The closer one gets to the monster, the more clearly vague noise and sound variations become audible and palpable. Our perspective is circumscribed by its shape: The vegetation is constricted in this tunnel vision. It appears as a distant glimpse of freedom, yet the incipient rhythm restrains the inmates. The interior walls vibrate; from between industrial beats audible liquids and objects mold the arrangement into a dystopian collage that gives the installation a sense of artificiality. In the midst of these idyllic surroundings, the foreign object takes on an ambivalent position: well camouflaged, the object appears as if it has been forgotten here—neglected—nearly reclaimed by nature. On the other hand, we hear an auditory energy—the object pulsates to its own frequency, clearly delimits itself from its surroundings. The result is a technological foreign body—forgotten, dormant, yet droning an incessant beat.
Mixed media—double-walled steel tank, four tactile transducers, four mobile amplifiers, sound collage 06:34—loop
Founded in 2010 by Marlene Hirtreiter (born 1983 in Schliersee/Germany) & Andre Mayr (born 1989 in Haag/Austria), the artist collective “Dekonstrukt” operates at the interface between transmedia art and experimental design; they are currently based in Bern, Switzerland.
Roughly equal upright prisms, made of peculiarly cored larch logs, burned, brushed and oiled, mark the corners of an equilateral triangle—a small, sloping field in a grove. The piece was commissioned by Bertran Conrad-Eybesfeld, who aptly titled the floating triptych Dreifeld. Artificial elements interact synergistically with organic growth. In addition to evoking the name Eybesfeld, this field also makes associations to a broad physical concept, the bearer of diverse reciprocal effects: Everyday perception becomes a concentrated reference to essential constants of sculptural design—body, space, light, and movement. The (infinite) wholeness of this “ritual site,” the change constantly celebrated (here), cannot be captured by a snapshot alone.
Using the feeling for sound he had acquired after fourteen years as a musician, Max Neuhaus began creating sound artworks that were neither music nor events, and coined the term ‘sound installation’ to describe them. In these works, which have neither beginning nor end, sounds are contextualized spatially rather than temporally. The ambient sounds form the ‘canvas’ onto which Max Neuhaus applies color through sound.
Upon entering the soundscape, the listener is instantly immersed in the sound and transported to a new realm of perception. When he leaves the space, the sound ends as though it had never existed at all.
The basic premise of Neuhaus’ work is that the perception of space, its dimensions and character, is as much influenced by acoustic factors as by visual ones. The ear is no less crucial than the eye in determining how we perceive space. As a matter of principle, Neuhaus’s work is subtle: he generally uses soft sounds that can often only be perceived subliminally. Sounds on the threshold of audibility, mingling with and transforming the everyday sounds of the environment.
Max Neuhaus was born in Texas in 1939 and died in 2009. He was a US experimental musician, pioneer of sound art, graphic designer and author.
On one of the islands of the castle park, Swiss artist Philipp Rahm has brought time to a standstill—or rather, he has eliminated the seasons. Six huge smart-spotlights are able to store the light conditions on a given day and emit exactly enough light on the remaining 364 days to keep the light intensity constant from day to day. An area of about 200 m² is kept at the same temperature all year round. The independent existence of this area thus becomes a work of art.
Philippe Rahm, born in Switzerland in 1967, is an architect and artist. His work expands the field of architecture from the physiological to the meteorological.
Sol LeWitt is among the founders of minimal and conceptual art. This form of art emphasizes the idea behind the artwork. This is often achieved by reducing all of the artwork’s components.
Sol LeWitt’s piece consists of a quarter sphere and a half cone made of basalt that invite visitors to complete them in their thoughts. The half cone is submerged in the ground; the surrounding landscape of the castle park makes the work appear none too powerful. Only the change of perspective that occurs when descending into the piece reveals its true size, with a total height of 10 meters and a length of 25 meters.
The work was developed during Sol LeWitt’s stay at Eybesfeld Castle. The realization, which took over a year to complete, was carried out together with the architect Konrad Frey.
Sol LeWitt was born in Connecticut in 1928 and died in 2007.
The concept behind this project was to install 183 vertical steel cables, spaced two to three meters apart, along the facade of the Glycinienhof. Wisteria would be planted at the base of each cable and measurements of its growth were to form the basis for a musical composition—the voice of the building.
The project could not be realized, however, as the wisteria grew seven meters within the first year alone, making it impossible to achieve the desired gradations.
Sonja Gangl describes her work as follows:
“The artistic concept begins after the architectural objectives have been established and elaborated. The concept of overgrowth is fundamental to both the architecture and the client. The dynamics and the tension inherent in the growth process, the care for the individual plants, as well as the multi-stage recording, designation, securing, and evaluation of the events comprises my arrangement—is my intervention in this essentially completed project, and expands this inherently intriguing whole.”
Sonja Gangl, born in 1965 in Graz, is a visual artist. Gangl studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna under Markus Prachensky and at the University of Applied Arts Vienna under Ernst Caramelle. She has been a member of the Vienna Secession since 2003.
This sculpture originated with Graz’s tenure as Cultural Capital in 2003, where it was positioned at one of the city’s highway exits. It now stands alone, as a sign, as a affirmation, as a foundation, and is reflected in one of the castle ponds, the “Island Pond.” Placed at the lower right edge of the castle park, it suggests a painter’s signature below his painting, thereby elevating the castle park and its sculptures to the status of a Gesamtkunstwerk. The four letters stand for themselves and need no further interpretation. The sculpture was designed by LOVE architecture; its placement was chosen together with lighting architect Klaus Pokorny.
Das Eichhörnchen was conceived by LOVE architecture for Graz’s tenure as Cultural Capital in 2003. At the time, the squirrel’s waving tail greeted guests at one of the highway exits to Graz. Today it is located in the northeast corner of the castle park, where it now waves to the visitors passing along Schlossstrasse. The squirrel has meanwhile been named Bruno.
Eybesfeld Castle was first surveyed in 1825 for the Franciscan Cadastre, the first complete register of all properties in the monarchy. Michael Schuster borrowed the first letters and had them reproduced as they appeared on the map—to scale and in the same position—using oak posts.
The work takes the power of symbolism a step further. Eybesfeld, the family name (the “i” was changed to “y”), Eibesfeld the castle, Eybesfeld the place, Eybesfeld the word, Eybesfeld the artwork, and finally Ei for Eiche, the German word for oak. All the same, and yet also not the same.
Michael Schuster, born in 1956 in Graz, is an artist whose photographic and installation work addresses the various layers of transmitted information, revealing meta-levels and references in the process. Taking pictorial invention as his theme, Michael Schuster focuses on the mechanical processes underlying imagery as well as the investigation of myths and oral traditions.
The art project Zachariasflug was carried out in the Eybesfeld castle park in 1992. The work of the Russian artist Vadim Zakharov can be seen as an intervention that leaves the surface untouched, yet covertly takes possession of the castle park. At 101 surveyed points throughout the castle park, guests were asked to look in a specific direction while the artist circled the castle park three times in an airplane. As they did so, they stood on diskettes, still buried to this day, which contained texts from the Book of Zechariah.
The project is represented by a plaque outside the castle park featuring an excerpt from the correspondence between the castle’s owner, Bertran Conrad-Eybesfeld, and the artist.
Vadim Zakharov, born in 1959 in Dushanbe/UdSSR, is a Russian performance artist who has been called the “archivist of Moscow Conceptualism” and belongs to the Moscow Conceptualists. He lives and works in Berlin and Moscow.
Heimo Zobernig, in collaboration with Ferdinand Schmatz, realized an outdoor sculpture in the castle park. He replaced a former tennis court, of which only vague outlines remained, with a 15 cm high concrete slab occupying exactly the surface area of a tennis court. A piece that is laden with historical references to modern sculpture and its fate.
The front edge of the slab features the following inscription in German, rendered in capital letters in Helvetica typeface: “This concrete slab was conceived by Heimo Zobernig for Christine and Bertran Conrad-Eybesfeld and realized in spring 1990. Dixit Ferdinand Schmatz. Tillmitsch Concrete Pouring.”
The concrete slab has all the requisite virtues of a minimalist modern sculpture. The pour was made without joints, a decision that took the subsequent formation of cracks into account. This allowed the nature of the material to be displayed openly while avoiding the grid pattern that would have technically been necessary for a smooth surface. The inscription shifts away from a purely formal analysis and towards an indexing of the conditions of the artwork’s realization: It names the parties to the commission, the collaboration with Ferdinand Schmatz, and the origin of the building material.
The use of the Latin term “dixit” makes reference to the feudal tradition of patronage and to the location—a castle—thus placing the piece in the context of the Institutional Critique work of Daniel Buren or Hans Haacke.
Heimo Zobernig, born in 1958 in Mauthen, Carinthia, lives and works in Vienna. His work is characterized by a reduced formal language that often has a tradesman-like character. It continually questions the framework conditions that surround art.
Ferdinand Schmatz, born in 1953 in Korneuburg/Lower Austria, studied German literature and language as well as history. He publishes poetry and essays and lives as a freelance writer in Vienna.
Phase 1 (12th-13th Century)
The land on which Eybesfeld Castle stands today was originally among the holdings of the aristocratic Eppenstein family; it was donated to the Rein Abbey in the 12th century. The first buildings, presumably dating from the 13th century, consisted of a simple farmhouse, today part of the castle’s ground floor, and a stable, today part of the Kavalierhaus.
Phase 2 (13th-17th Century)
Over the years, the building was enlarged and extended. With its Gothic arches, the rectangular layout of the castle’s ground floor still bears witness to the former appearance of the house.
Phase 3 (1640-1651)
After a fire destroyed the manor, known then as the Mallerhof, the estate was purchased by Friedrich Freiherr von Eibiswald. With the addition a salon and stairwell wings, the rectangular shape was transformed into a cross shape. Four towers and a connecting wall were also built as protection against provisioners of the Ottoman army, which passed by less than 50 km to the east.
Phase 4 (1851-1996)
In 1851, the castle was acquired by Sigmund Conrad and transformed into a family residence for the first time. The parquet floors were replaced, the kitchen was renewed, and the castle was appointed with Venetian furnishings.
Phase 5 (1996-2020)
In 1996, Bertran Conrad-Eybesfeld purchased the castle from his family and expanded its usable area by two floors. By excavating a four-hectare area around the castle to the depth of one meter, the cellar-like first floor was converted into another living space. The attic was extended to two floors.
Eybesfeld Castle in its present form is a three-story building with a cross-shaped floor plan. It offers approximately 1200 m² of living space, with each floor having about 300 m². The attic contains the old library as well as a chapel. An old cellar vault with beautiful thick walls and small lightwells can be reached through the underground “ancestor passage.” This tunnel also leads to the adjacent Kavalierhaus.
(Construction phase 2: 1800 | Construction phase 3: 2006, Max Stoisser & Carola Peschl)
This former granary was built along the inner wall between the two western and northwestern towers. Originally individual, unconnected buildings (a stable, press house, flour store, and tower) were combined into one structure in the 18th century. Initially used as a cavaliers’ and guest house for hunts, it was extensively renovated in 1996 and 2004.
Renovations included the creation of seven guest rooms, taking the seven deadly sins as their theme. The color palette, subtle references to the deadly sins, and custom designed furniture follow a strict, uniform decor concept.
Der Meierhof, ein Vierkanthof des The Meierhof, dating from the 18th century, is a four-sided farm building arranged around a central courtyard; it was originally built as a cowshed, horse stable, and pigsty. Around 1850, one wing of the building was demolished and partially replaced with the “Meierhaus”, the house of the steward. Around 2000 the buildings were converted and renovated.
(Stable 1780 | Meierhaus in Biedermeier style, 1855 | Apartments, 2000. The southern wing of the Meierhof was designed by Cristina Conrad-Eybesfeld)
The Eybesfeld Estate has always strived to be self-sufficient. In addition to fruit trees, agriculture, cattle breeding, fishery, and hunting, a glasshouse for wintering potted plants and growing vegetables existed until the 19th century. Three more glasshouses were built around 1880, though they were demolished around 1950.
The remaining glasshouse is now to be converted into a winter garden. First sketches were made by architect Hans Heger. The terrace was planned by West 8. A new glass house is to be built in the new storehouse.
(Construction phase 2: 1890 | Construction phase 3: 2020, Hans Heger)
With the castle park covering 17 hectares, a dedicated storage facility is indispensable. Maintenance of the lawns alone requires three riding mowers; a further three tractors are needed for forestry and agricultural work. The estate management offices and rental properties (70 apartments) are all heated with wood. Roughly 300 bulk meters of wood chips and 800 solid meters of firewood are stored for that purpose. A workshop and two apartments were also included. The New Storehouse was designed by architect Max Stoisser and built between 2010 and 2018.
The swimming pool was designed by the architectural office of Pichler & Traupmann. It was deliberately built at some distance from the castle. During the summer, the garden tower serves as a pool- and guest house. The pool’s minimalist design is influenced by the sculptural character of the surrounding artworks. Its three upturned sides create a floating surface, giving the project a certain lightness yet also creating tension. Storage rooms, technical equipment, sanitary facilities, and changing rooms are located below the pool. Its form makes reference to the roofscape of the neighboring garden tower, while its color references the roof tiles and the copper beech.
In the process of lowering of the ground level around the castle by one meter, a spontaneous decision was made to connect the castle with the cellar of the neighboring Kavalierhaus by means of a tunnel. Now the ancestors, or at least their portraits, have an underground home of their own.
A manor and its metes and bounds are mentioned for the first time in a document in 1618. Around 1640, the manor burned down. Four towers and a perimeter wall were erected in order to provide a certain degree of protection.
All that remains of this fortification today are the two towers (in the Kavalierhaus and the northeast tower) and the outlines of the foundations of the former castle wall, marked out by large stone slabs. Part of the Kavalierhaus presumably also once belonged to this fortification. This suggests that the towers were in all likelihood added to the enclosure wall in the mid-to-late 17th century.
The old castle gate was erected where one of the four towers had stood in the 17th century. It was built around 1810 in the Empire style and served as the main entrance gate until the completion of the new gate at the northern side of the castles park.
The castle park was built in four phases. The oldest part is the castle courtyard, which existed until the beginning of the 18th century. The demolition of the castle walls, to which two small entrance columns and an avenue of chestnut trees bear witness, sparked a first phase of renewal, followed by an expansion to cover an area of eight hectares around 1885.
An English landscape garden was laid out towards the north, while a spacious agricultural area was created towards the south—its former barns still remain today. In the 1990s, the park was once again extended to the west. Four spacious ponds with islands and bridges were created and the farmyard was moved to the northwest. The castle park now covers 18 hectares. Its roughly 2200 trees are predominantly beech, spruce, alder, oak, maple, birch, and plane trees.
The area where the ponds are located today has always been a floodplain. In the 1970s, the Lassnitz River was straightened and regulated. The construction of dams created a row of ponds. A wooden bridge to an island in the largest pond was built in 1979.
(Ornamental pond, 17th century | island pond and bathing pond 1978 | elm pond, 2015)
The creation of a new entrance road in 2009 was also the brainchild of Adrian Geuze of West 8. Instead of driving directly from the street to the castle as before, the new 800-meter-long Schlossstrasse makes a romantic detour through the park, allowing visitors to slowly discover the castle entering through the old gate to arrive at the castle courtyard.
The lavender bed was the first work realized together with West 8. Representing the shadow of the swimming pool, its fragrance drifts toward you while swimming. Among other things, it is a paradise for bees and butterflies. In addition to the lavender bed, West 8 have planned further beds that will contain uniform plants or, for example, a butterfly meadow.
The moving terrace resulted from considerations regarding the use of the castle’s ground floor, the relatively austere architecture of the building, and the need for leisure areas around it. Architect Manfred Wolff-Plottegg developed the idea of a terrace that could be moved on tires. In another design, the terrace was envisioned as being able to move between the ground and first floors like an elevator.
Expanding on this idea, Christoph Elsässer of West 8 designed a terrace on rails, based on the wooden platforms of the Middle Ages. Each time it travels, it crosses the foundations of the former castle wall and symbolically conquers, or perhaps liberates, the castle.
The oak platform has two levels and is electrically operated. The terrace is used as a moving salon, dining room, but also as a venue for events. When it enters the Eibenraum (“Yew Room”), which can hold 150 people, the entire terrace becomes a stage. The construction was realized in cooperation with students from Kapfenberg Technical College.
In the course of its history, Eybesfeld Castle has had four different gates, three of which still exist in some form.
An entrance gate is almost like a business card for its owner—it is the first impression made upon the visitor. Adrian Geuze (West 8), who is responsible for the realization of the new gate, worked with the concepts of open mindedness and “joie de vivre,” chosen by Bertran and Christine as their most important criteria for life in Eybesfeld, and symbolically implemented them in his work.
The castle gate features the profile of a dancing woman, composed of holes of different sizes punched into the metal. The area to the left and right of the columns is open when the gate is closed, and closes when the gate opens. The gate is therefore always open and closed at the same time.
The Empire Gate, dating from 1790, remained the main gate until the turn of the millennium. With the construction of the new private entrance road, it is in use again today.
The castle park is crossed by a main axis that opens onto an avenue of linden trees at the northern entrance gate. The staircase forms the centerpiece of a second axis that leads from the castle down to the Lassnitz River.
Paths form the park’s nervous system, giving the park its structure. The past years have seen the construction of a three-kilometer-long system of paths, which consists of five north-south and three east-west axes.
Footbridges and platforms invite friends and guests to linger. Wooden walkways have been constructed at two ponds.
The Eybesfeld castle park includes two fish ponds that are rented to passionate anglers or groups of fishing enthusiasts. The architectural studio LOVE planned two fishing huts, which were built by the fishermen themselves using oak from the family’s own forests.
At the heart of the design concept was the idea to deform a “classic wooden hut” to such a degree that it results in two fishing sculptures made entirely of wood. These sculptures were in no way intended to negate or question the formal and contextual roots of the classic wooden hut, but rather to represent a joyfully ironic statement on the theme of “fishing in the landscape park—today.”
The idea of camouflage was a central aspect in the design: the increasingly weathered huts were intended to mutate into boulder-like wooden structures lying about the landscape—growing more and more invisible. Invisibility, after all, is a key factor for a successful hunt. The huts are meant to afford the sportsmen a decisive competitive advantage.
In search of a way to make the ground floor of Eybesfeld Castle habitable, architect Wolff-Plottegg proposed to excavate a part of the castle park by one meter. The resulting material (about 4,000 truckloads) was used to build an earthen wall 800 meters long and four meters high, which serves as a new demarcation from the street.
The Beaver Bridge, one of six planned bridges, was designed by West 8 for the Lassnitz River. The concept proposes that each larger beam is to have a supporting function rather than being installed merely for ornamental purposes.
The castle park houses numerous art projects, the result of a search for an appropriate form of interaction with contemporary art. Working together closely with the artists, these projects focus above all on the artistic development process.
Guided tours of approximately two to three hours are available by appointment. For security reasons, the castle park is not open to the public. If you are interested in a tour, please contact us via .