There are a few things I look forward to experience when I travel: the city’s food, street art, and architecture.
Everywhere I go, I’ve always appreciated uniquely-designed houses and buildings, because to me they speak so much of the city’s artistic heritage.
When I visited Vienna last spring, therefore, one of the places I made sure to see was the Vienna art house, known as The Hundertwasser House.
Designed by famed Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, this apartment building comprises over 50 residential units, and was Hundertwasser’s idea of incorporating nature into architecture. It reportedly features trees inside the rooms with the limbs going out through the windows during summer. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go inside, which is really quite a pity.
It was fine to stay outside, though. The building’s facade was more than enough to feast on: the windows were distinctly and differently colored and designed; Hundertwasser wanted the owners to decorate their window as they see fit.
The ground outside was deliberately left uneven too, giving the impression of lampposts growing from the earth.
You’d probably think: why wasn’t the ground leveled? And it’s not just outside; the floors inside were said to be left uneven too, because Hundertwasser believed that “an uneven floor is a melody to the feet.” He said that the flat ground we are used to is made by architects; it subdues rather than nourishes the soul.
When the floor is left as is, with its natural undulating shape, the people will have the opportunity to reconnect with the earth, and mental equilibrium is regained.
I don’t know exactly how that works out, but aesthetically speaking, it seems to work.
Seeing the artistic housing project brought to mind another great artist who converted his ideas into architecture: Spain’s Antoni Gaudi. Like the Austrian artist, Gaudi, too, had a very distinctive style, incorporating the shape and feel of nature into his works.
Of course, Gaudi’s creations were admittedly grander; I was told that once you have seen his Sagrada Familia, you will never forget it. Someday I definitely hope to visit Barcelona!
Unlike Gaudi, though, Hundertwasser was no architect, so the city assigned him two–Joseph Krawina and Peter Pelikan–to work with him and translate his ideas into reality. Together with the artist, they created a housing project that’s definitely one of the must-sees in Vienna and one of the cultural heritage in Austria.
It was spring when I was there, so there weren’t a lot of people. Despite the still-dead vegetation on the building’s walls, it still looked wonderful, like a creation straight out of a storybook. What did it feel like to live here? To go out of your apartment and see all the tourists gawking, taking pictures, and posing in front of the place that you go home to?
Would you even want to live there? Or in any of the buildings that Antoni Gaudi designed? (He designed more than just buildings, though. Gaudi’s churches and parks are wonderful works of art!) After all, when your home is one of your country’s cultural heritage, it’s not exactly yours. It’s the city’s and it belongs to the people.
Still, if given the chance, I would definitely love to live in this art house and experience firsthand the genius that was Hundertwasser.
How about you? Would you live in a building like this?