Tuesday 21 Sep, 2010

Hundertwasserhaus

Hundertwasserhaus

One of the great stops for me on a guided city tour is the Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna.

It is normally the last stop of the morning before the tour ends near the Opera. Having already visited the Schönbrunn Palace and seen many of the grand Baroque buildings of the city, this is a real departure. The house itself is a series of apartments and offices, but it is the style of the building that is so enjoyable.

The house, along with part of the street around it, was designed by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and was built in the mid-1980s. As with so many of his buildings, it is a beautiful mixture of color and shape. Even the streets around the house are undulating. At first, this was considered a danger to the blind or partially sighted, instead it proves to be extremely helpful to them, allowing them to recognize their location by the movement beneath them. Hundertwasser believed that an uneven floor “is a divine melody to the feet.”

The building has the limbs of trees growing out of the windows (every house should have a plant) and an earth roof. Just across the road is the cultural center that you will have time to go inside and visit, a chance to see more of the artist’s works.

As you drive around Vienna, you might also notice the heating plant in the 9th district. We don’t normally draw attention to district heating plans on our sightseeing tours, unless it looks like this.

Hundertwasser’s work is not limited to Vienna. He is behind an astonishing array of projects from a sludge treatment center in Osaka, Japan, to a children’s daycare center via a motorway service station. Hundertwasser’s unique style stands out, and it is really hard not to look at his buildings and smile, just enjoying the fact that a little difference can go a very long way.

Someone once said to me that if all buildings looked like this it would be too weird. Exactly. That’s what inspired the man.

(Editor’s note: Paul Mattesini’s posts appear Tuesdays on Following the Equator. If you have a travel question for our resident expert tour director, or an idea for a blog post topic, you can email Paul here, and he will answer readers’ questions in future posts.)

Photo: Fanch B via Flickr (CC license)