The Hundertwasserhouse

We are again living through a turning point when old and petrified values in architecture

Hundertwasser on a terrace of Hundertwasser House. Photo: Alfred Schmid

and town planning are increasingly being called into question. The straight lines and uniformity of Bauhaus architecture are coming to an end because they are unfeeling, sterile, cold, heartless, aggressive and unemotional. The era of absolute rationalism is coming to an end. The new values are a higher quality rather than a higher standard of living, yearning for romanticism, individuality, creativity, especially creativity and a life in harmony with nature.

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.

Current architecture is criminally sterile since unfortunately every building process stops when the people move into their quarters though normally the reorganization of the living space should only begin when people have moved in.

Architecture has become a farce that no longer relates to people. In the course of the centuries mankind has so raped his second and third natural skins, clothing and architecture, that they no longer fit him.

Architects now build prison cells in which the human soul is destroyed. Today we are experiencing the triumph of rational technology but at the same time we are facing the void.

Aesthetic emptiness, uniform deserts, murderous sterility and creative impotence.

Once again architectural impulses could spread into the world from Vienna. Austria has always been a land of architecture. Baroque, Jugendstil, Adolf Loos, as a preliminary stage to the Bauhaus, the social housing of the interwar period, and now the Hundertwasser house. Once again a signal has been given to the world.

The occupant of an apartment must have the right to lean out of his window and to decorate the outer walls as it suits him as far as his arm can reach so that one can see at a distance that a person as an individual being is living there.

The moon, the sun, and the street lamps shine on the mirror tiles. The rich and powerful have always had towers and domes but it is new for normal average contemporary people to have towers and gilded ones at that. Architecture should elevate people, not abase, oppress and enslave them.

A golden onion tower on one’s own house elevates the occupant to the status of a king. Grey mass misery is at an end, the golden age is dawning. So that the ghosts of the old house can move into the new one, a piece of the facade of the old house has been copied. With coping stones and sideboards, which freestones and grooves. The dead straight sterile skyline is an inglorious inheritance from the Bauhaus. If the boundary between  earth and heaven has been murdered with a ruler, all bridges between people and higher aspirations have been broken.

Man is opposed between the annatural board-flat ground and the dead straigt skyline. The pillar is an essential element of western architecture, one feels good near a pillar is if under a tree. A pillar must be beautiful and colourful and also shine with its own power in the rain and the moonlight. Figures, lions, statues, eagles, spheres. When they are weathered and moss grows on them, they are as beautiful as the statues of ancient rome. Destroying man’s roots in the past blocks off his future.

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.

Then there are the covered walks through the corridors. Passages are not there just to go through, a passage can and should provide the walker humanity, warmth and beauty, intimacy for all his senses. The uneven floor is like a symphony, like a melody for the feet, the passage becomes a  beautiful path. The line of tiles in the passages and stairwells accompanies the people who walk through the passages and climb the stairs like a friend. The walls are also wavy like a pleated skirt of stone that goes down to the floor. Suddenly appearing as spontaneously as flowers and trees or when something beautiful creates itself.

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.

Let us hope that this house will be taken seriously as quite essential contribution to social housing construction and an honor to vienna by the whole world, especially by architects and city planners, and as a important example for a new and creative architecture.

Hundertwasser, in: Hundertwasser-Haus, Vienna: Orac Verlag, 1988 (extract)

Category(s): The Philosophy

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