Tuesday 13 February 2018

Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s Strange Architecture

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an artist turned architect at age 55. He spurned traditionally boring 20th century designs, put out manifestos such as one proclaiming Window Rights, pushed his point across by giving lectures in the nude, used bright colors, distorted lines and designed with the desire to be in harmony with nature. Here’s a look at some of creations by the “the doctor of architecture.” [41 Photos] 
It’s alive, Hundertwasser House in Austria. It’s both an apartment house and expressionist landmark in Vienna that was built after the idea and concept of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Although the concept of a forested roof terrace house was at first rejected, the City of Vienna eventually was convinced to allow the unconventional design. “Within the house there are 52 apartments, 4 offices, 16 private terraces, 3 communal terraces, with a total of 250 trees and bushes.” The Hundertwasserhaus has many unique features, including undulating floors as the artist “said ‘an uneven floor is a divine melody to the feet,’ a roof covered with earth and grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms, with limbs extending from windows. Hundertwasser took no payment for the design of the house, declaring that it was worth it, to prevent something ugly from going up in its place.” 

Autumn at residential building in Bad Soden, Germany, designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser; construction began in 1990 and was completed in 1993. When we were looking for houses with grass living roofs, we kept coming across buildings designed by Hundertwasser. His architecture and ideas were so unique that we wanted to share some of them. 

Another of Hundertwasser’s designs located in Plochingen, Germany. The photographer added, “His distinctive building style was a result of his dislike of more conventional Modern architecture.” He used “bright colors, decorations, distorted lines” and had a “desire to be in harmony with nature. Hundertwasser believed that only a few buildings are ‘healthy.’ He made numerous restructuring and renewal of residential and functional buildings and had a reputation as ‘the doctor of architecture’ because he treated buildings by decorating them in order to diminish the visual pollution of the environment.”
Hundertwasser, born in 1928, started as an artist. The above “Irinaland Over the Balkans” is one of his most famous paintings. He didn’t even begin working as an architect until he was 55-years-old. The woman’s face in the painting is Bulgaria actress Irina Maleeva, with whom Hundertwasser was close. Regarding this painting, he said, “I wanted to paint a picture which seemed to dissolve and had lots of the Balkans in it. I was involved with a Bulgarian actress and went through real Casanova adventures, including hiding under the bed for hours, escaping out the window in my pajamas, where the nearby florist completely sympathized with my plight and gave me food and lodging for nothing. And then a leap to the side to avoid being run over by a speeding rival who had been lying in wait for me in his car.”
“The facade of this building in Rogner Bad Blumau, was modeled on the Kunsthaus museum in Vienna – also designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Hence its German name ‘Kunsthaus’ (‘Art house’).” This hotel complex in Austria was his largest architectural project and was completed in 1997. Part of rejecting straight line architecture included Hundertwasser writing several manifestos. Wikipedia explained, “In the Mouldiness Manifesto he first claimed the ‘Window Right’: ‘A person in a rented apartment must be able to lean out of his window and scrape off the masonry within arm’s reach. And he must be allowed to take a long brush and paint everything outside within arm’s reach. So that it will be visible from afar to everyone in the street that someone lives there who is different from the imprisoned, enslaved, standardized man who lives next door.’ In his nude speeches of 1967 and 1968 Hundertwasser condemned the enslavement of humans by the sterile grid system of conventional architecture and by the output of mechanized industrial production.”
Ronald McDonald House in Essen, Germany. The architect called the architecture of his time “criminally sterile.” He wrote in 1988, “Man has three skins. His own, his clothes and his dwelling. All these three skins must renew themselves, continually grow and and change. When, however, the third skin, i.e. the outer wall of his house, does not change and grow like the first skin it petrifies and dies. Houses are growing things like trees. Houses grow like plants, live and continually change.”
The Maishima Incineration Plant in Osaka, Japan, was yet another project. The “plant was conceptualized during the time when Osaka was bidding to host the 2008 Olympics.” According to a tour guide, “Mr. Hundertwasser designed the exterior with the concept of harmonizing technology, ecology and art. And that because straight lines do not exist in nature, Mr. Hundertwasser used curved lines into his design with these three colors green as a symbol of harmony with nature, red and yellow stripes represent the combustion flames.”
This tower is at a brewery in Abensberg, Lower Bavaria, Germany. The Kuchlbauer Tower stands over 115 feet (35.14 meters) tall. Hundertwasser died in 2000 during the tower’s planning phase, but it was completed after his death. The gold-plated observation ball on top has a 32.8-foot (10-meter) diameter and weighs 26,455 pounds (12 metric tons.)
Close up of Abensberg Kuchlbauer. Regarding “Window Dictatorship and Window Right,” Hundertwasser said in 1990, “The repetition of identical windows next to each other and above each other as in a grid system is a characteristic of concentration camps. Windows in rank and file are sad, windows should be able to dance.”
The photographer said that the tower was originally supposed to be about 230 feet (70 meters) high. “But the conservative mayor and the Bavarian State Conservation Office fought in court for a smaller tower, supposedly not to impair the skyline of the old town. This silhouette is, however, extremely boring and completely bland.” Granted, we don’t typically visit breweries but this certainly looks unique to us.
The Waldspirale is at max a 12-story residential building complex in Darmstadt, Germany; it was designed by Hundertwasser and built from 1998 – 2000. Waldspirale “translates into English as forest spiral, reflecting both the general plan of the building and the fact that it has a green roof.”
There are over 1,000 windows in Waldspirale, “are all unique: no two windows are the same. Similarly, different handles are attached in each apartment to the doors and windows.”
It also has “105 apartments, a parking garage, a kiosk as well as a café and a bar (the last two being located at the top of the spiral). The inner courtyard contains a playground for the children of the residents and a small artificial lake.”
The Green Citadel, (Grüne Zitadelle) a Hundertwasser creation located in Magdeburg, Germany. He called the Green Citadel an “unusual architecture project. An oasis for humanity and nature between thousands of streamlined buildings. It shall fulfill man’s longings for romanticism. The romanticism that negates, and tries to eliminate, the efficient architecture with its fatal sterile fanaticism.”
Green roof on the Green Citadel. Again there was use of golden onion towers, something used in Hundertwasser’s designs over and over. He once said, “A golden onion tower on one’s own house elevates the occupant to the status of a king.”
Hundertwasser Church St. Barbara in Austria. About the man whose ideas were radical for his time, Wikipedia said, “The Second World War was a very difficult time for Hundertwasser and his mother Elsa, who were Jewish. They avoided persecution by posing as Christians.” Later in life: “In 1959 Hundertwasser got involved with helping the Dalai Lama escape from Tibet by campaigning for the Tibetan religious leader in Carl Laszlo’s magazine Panderma. In later years, when he was already a known artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser became an environmental activist.”
St. Barbara Church in Bärnbach, Austria, was started in 1984 and completed in 1988.
Maishima Sludge Center in Japan. “Commissioned by the City of Osaka, Hundertwasser also took on the project of architecturally redesigning the sludge treatment center located near the MOP incinerator (seen in photo #7). The plant was built to recycle sludge in order to produce bricks, tiles and floor slabs.”
Night shot of Maishima Waste Incineration Plant, in Osaka. If you didn’t know and had to guess what this building was, Quest for Japan said, “I guess most people would guess that its a theme park being so closely located to Universal Studios Japan.”
Spittelau thermal power plant, a District Heating Plant, in Vienna. Hundertwasser redesigned the outer facade after a major fire in 1987; the redesign began in 1988 was completed in 1992.
Quixote Wine Press Entrance in Napa Valley. Hundertwasser meant “the pattern of the tiles on the outside wall is to suggest a waterfall.”
More Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s architectural details of Quixote Winery, constructed from 1992 – 1999. Wikipedia added that the building has “no right angles, except in the basement. The design style has been called phantasmagoric, psychedelic, and Dr. Seuss-like, and also likened to ‘the creation of a beautifully demented child.’ The winery structure is dominated by an onion dome covered in gold leaf, as well as a living roof topped with grass, bushes, and trees.”
Hundertwasser also designed fountains such as can be seen in front Hundertwasserhaus; On the right is his Spiral-River Hand Drinking Fountain.
It was the colorful Hundertwasser House that first grabbed our attention, so here are more photos of it. Regarding Hundertwasserhouse, the architect said, “Architecture must give man back his soul. Hundertwasserhouse is an architectonic sign that calls on us to turn about, to turn our backs on traditional and soulless architecture, a house in which the creativity of nature meets human creativity.”
From the mind of Hundertwasser, a truly unique Austrian painter and architect.
View of the most colorful house of Vienna. “Romanticism has been declared kitsch and so we have been robbed of romanticism. May one not dream? The right to dream is the last human right. If man is robbed of his dreams and yearnings he will die. The absence of kitsch makes life unbearable,”
He added, “Architecture must give man back his soul. Hundertwasserhouse is an architectonic sign that calls on us to turn about, to turn our backs on traditional and soulless architecture, a house in which the creativity of nature meets human creativity. With this house the city of Vienna has made possible a project that is a unique example.”
Green growth at Hundertwasserhaus in 2013
Hundertwasserhaus in 2014. Its creator “was fascinated by spirals, and called straight lines ‘godless and immoral’ and ‘something cowardly drawn with a rule, without thought or feeling’.”
In 1990, the architect claimed, “A person in a rented apartment must be able to lean out of his window and scrape off the masonry within arm’s reach. And he must be allowed to take a long brush and paint everything outside within arm’s reach. So that it will be visible from afar to everyone in the street that someone lives there who is different from the imprisoned, enslaved, standardized man who lives next door.”
In 1972, Hundertwasser had “his first architectural models made for the Eurovision ‘Wünsch dir was’ show, which he used to visualize his ideas on forested roofs, tree tenants and window rights. In these models he developed new architectural shapes, such as the eye-slit house, the terrace house and the high-rise meadow house. In lectures at academies and before architectural associations, Hundertwasser elucidated his concerns regarding an architecture in harmony with nature and man.”
In 1980, regarding how a house should not be measured by normal standards, Hundertwasser said a house “is meant to be an oasis of humanity and nature in the sea of rational buildings, the realization of the longing of people for romanticism. Precisely that romanticism which rational architecture negates and attempts to uproot with lethal, sterile zealotry.”
“Everyone will be glad to return home,” he added. “For the house sparkles in the sunshine and in the moonlight. It has fountains, and you can sit amidst the trees. And you look at the living walls and recognize the living windows with pleasure, the ones you can reshape yourself, behind which you are at home.”
Yes Hundertwasser even created public toilets in 1999, which are located at Kawakawa on New Zealand’s North Island. “In the 1970s, Hundertwasser acquired several properties in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, which include a total area of approximately 372 ha of the entire ‘Kaurinui’ valley. There he realized his dream of living and working closely connected to nature. Beside other projects he designed the ‘Bottle House’ there. He could live largely self-sufficient using solar panels, a water wheel and a biological water purification plant. Also his first grass roofs experiment took place here.” He “was buried in New Zealand after his death at sea on the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 in 2000 at the age of 71.”
Face on Hundertwasserhouse. Whether you like or dislike his style, it’s certainly not something most of us see every day.

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