Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1928-2000, an Austrian notorious and non-conformist artist, was born Friedrich Stowasser in Vienna. He started out as a painter but later became known mostly for his manifestos and architectural designs which bring man-made creations closer to nature, in fact incorporate nature in the structures.
One of his most well-known designs is the Hundertwasser House, a residential block of flats, one of Vienna’s most visited and photographed buildings. Visited on the outside that is, as there is no way a common visitor can see how the apartments look like on the inside. There is even an announcement at the front of the two entrances, explaining that the residents are sorry but could not accept visits from curious tourists as they would never be able to meet with the demand! Seriously, I sympathise with the residents: can you imagine to have these hoards of people looking up at your window & photograph it every day of your life… looking at you with curiosity, even envy, everytime you go in and out of the building? I’m sure I’d love to live in one of the flats, I saw some nice interior views in the souvenir shop at the ground floor (of course there is one, as well as a cafe…) but I could do with a back entrance…
The building, which was built between 1983 and 1985, features undulating floors (“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.
This excerpt from a lecture at the CEE benefit reception (Center for Environmental Education), Washington, December 15, 1982, is characteristic of Hundertwasser’s vision for a life in harmony with nature:
‘‘All of us have lost control and responsibility of what we are doing – the doctors, teachers, farmers, politicians, scientists, priests, economists, and so on.
The architect acts like a criminal of war. He executes orders against his conscience building houses where man’s soul perishes.