Hundertwasser Haus – Vienna, Austria
When we are children, we draw pictures of houses that start as a box with windows. Over time, as our imagination develops, we make these pictures less and less like the norm. Imagine what would happen if you kept on drawing pictures of homes throughout your adult life and your mind just kept on coming up with more and more outrageous ideas. In the Austrian capital of Vienna, you will find a building that is the ultimate in this concept. The more you develop ideas, the more fun you can have with them. But that’s just on paper. How about what they look like in the real world?
Hundertwasser House is from the imagination of an artist. Friedensreich Hundertwasser painted for many years before becoming obsessed with architecture. His ideas soon reached national recognition in Austria. As he thought up more innovative ways of designing buildings, then he became renowned in the field. Hundertwasser lectured at universities, appeared on television and developed his thoughts around the connection between architecture and humankind. But at this stage, all of these were just concepts. To develop this into a solid idea that could be used in the real world, Hundertwasser needed to team up with an experienced architect who could make his ideas come to life. Step forward Josef Krawina.
A burgeoning relationship
At first, Hundertwasser and Josef Krawina didn’t see eye to eye. Krawina was from a formal background of architecture – the exact same one that Hundertwasser was trying to work against. He didn’t want the structures and constraints that traditional architecture had in place. He wanted to break rules. In time, the tow developed a relationship that enabled them to build the stunning Hundertwasser House in Vienna.
The building itself works against so many of the norms of modern building. It is a mismatch of colors on the outside. Look at it from any angle and it feels like a building that has been badly patched together by a series of different people, all working in isolation. Bit that is also where the beauty lies. It all comes together to form an immaculate façade that appeals to the soul. Gone are the symmetrical walls and monochromes that we find all across cities in the modern world. This is replaced by an apartment building that has become an icon in a city that isn’t short of beautiful buildings.
The mix of inside and out
You might be forgiven for thinking that this is it. You will wonder if all the quirkiness of Hundertwasser Haus is contained on the outside for the world to see. But that doesn’t do justice to the imagination of the designer and his architect. Remember the child that just kept on sketching more and more outrageous ideas? Well, he teamed up with an architect that was able to make his ideas come to life.
The connection between the outside world and the inside of a property is something that all quality architects try to achieve. Hundertwasser sees this as ‘the land where nature and man meet in creation.’ And it is easy to see this concept in every corner of the property.
Trees and vegetation have become part of the building, rather than part of the plot. So often in designs, the plants sit on the land that surrounds the building. In a big city, there isn’t usually enough space to make this happen. So, the vegetation just disappears and can only be found in public spaces such as parks. Hundertwasser has trees and plants that live and breathe as part of the building. They are all protected by rights. The roof is covered by woodland. A natural haven in the middle of a big city. The plants connect the inside with the out, as many occupy both spaces. Along with large windows, this is the perfect reminder of where you are once safely camped up in an apartment.
The floors are uneven, and feel like something from a fairy-tale, when in fact they are from the imagination of an artist. Perfect.
From the pen of Hundertwasser comes these lines. They sum up the beautiful property he has created in the heart of the big city –
‘A painter dreams about houses and
a beautiful architecture in which man is free
and this dream becomes a reality.’