Saturday, September 13, 2008


The Austrian Artist Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser is not a household name in either architecture, art, or landscape - but his contributions to all of these disciplines - and dare I say a unique brand of Vegitecture - is worth a look. L+U had a previous post that showed one of his most known works - the iconic Waldspirale in Darmstadt, Germany.

:: Waldspirale - image via Green Roof Safari

:: Waldspirale - image via Picasa - Dirk

This is a good example of the somewhat surrealist vision. Also check out some of the construction photos via this german-language site as well. See the 2007 post on Archidose about Hundertwasser as well - with some thoughts on the surface treatments... that yes, I'd say 'goofy' is an apt statement as well. Another notable project is the Hundertwasser Haus - which showcases a number of the ideas, including the incorporation of vegetation and the strange DIY facadism:

:: Hundertwasserhaus - images via Wikipedia

Some more thoughts via Archidose: "His most well-known building is easily the eponymous apartment complex in Vienna he "completed" in 1986; I put quotes around completed because his buildings are never really finished. They evolve over time not only via the growth of trees and other vegetation integral with his buildings but by the occupants as well, who are allowed to paint the wall outside their unit in the Hundertwasser Haus, for example."

:: Hundertwasserhaus - image via Wikipedia

See above the orange window on the blue field... an example of the: "...Verschimmelungs-Manifest, the so-called Mould Manifesto against rationalism in architecture... 'A person in a rented apartment must be able to lean out of his window and scrape off the masonry within arm's reach. And he must be allowed to take a long brush and paint everything outside within arm's reach. So that it will be visible from afar to everyone in the street that someone lives there who is different from the imprisoned, enslaved, standardised man who lives next door.'" (via Wikipedia)

Another interesting idea is literally punctuating the building facade - literally creating rooms that have vegetal occupants... this is a derivation of another manifesto, from 1972: "... Your window right — your tree duty: planting trees in an urban environments was to become obligatory: 'If man walks in nature's midst, then he is nature's guest and must learn to behave as a well-brought-up guest.'" (via Wikipedia)

:: Tree room - image via KunstHausWien

This is the most compelling idea that I think is worth some additional study - in terms of the Veg.itectural connection. Looking for some additional images that reinforce this idea...

:: image via Journal Sentinel Online

:: image via Panoramio

This reminds me of a minimal reference that I have wanted to expand on - an Arbortecture flickr set of photos by Keaggy that were focused on plants growing out of buildings - mostly random seeded species that have spontaneously grown in urban areas. Another good site for buildings is the HW-Architektur... with a library of some of the notable installations.

There also some references to vegetated infrastructure and some more of the technical aspects of the processes - in this case, via Treehugger: "Hundertwasser ...proposed green and aesthetic solutions for highways and byways. His sketches of underground highways lined by trees to filter out noxious chemicals, also showed such a concept could minimize noise and maximize land use."

:: image via Treehugger

Or this diagram showing the functional aspects of the Hundertwasserhaus... pay particular attention to the 'Tree Tenants' and 'Man Tenants'.

:: image via
Tina's Blog

There are definitely a lot of people following the work - and Hundertwasser has a bit of a cult following - along with some formal museums, particularly in Vienna, and his adopted home in New Zealand. Another good site for buildings and general info is the HW-Architektur... with a library of some of the notable installations. One that I really enjoy are The Living Beneath the Water House in Pochingen, which is indicative of the child-like whimsy of these creations:

:: images via KunstHausWien

It would be interesting to see how the livability is in these projects. For instance, does an artist create spaces that, although fun and flexible, are well designed. One quote that really strikes me in this reference to Hundertwasser with "...undulating floors ("an uneven floor is a melody to the feet")." Maybe, or maybe just annoying...

So delving a bit deeper into the background and theory. While probably the definition an innovative and artist - Wikipedia does shed some light on inspirations:
"The common themes in his work are a rejection of the straight line, bright colours, organic forms, a reconciliation of humans with nature, and a strong individualism. He remains sui generis, although his architectural work is comparable to Antoni Gaudí in its biomorphic forms and use of tile. He was inspired by the works of Egon Schiele from an early date, and his style was often compared to that of Gustav Klimt." Some examples of Hundertwasser's art, which say something about the man as well.

:: Among Trees You Are At Home - image via Tina's Blog

:: image via The Uneven Path: Hundertwasser in Vienna

:: The 30 Day Fax Picture - image via BrickWallViews

Innovative, individual, silly, or provocative... Hundertwasser is important study for architecture, landscape and art - as well as looking closely at the concept of flexibility, adaptability, process and customization of design - resulting in designs that are never done - always in flux - and blur the line between art/landscape/architecture. Sounds like the future of design, landscape urbanism, and building.

:: Madness/Genius? - Hundertwasser in 1998 - image via Wikipedia

* Many thanks to my friend and colleague - ecological designer and educator Dorothy Payton - for the heads up and book for Hundertwasser postcards!


  1. I stumbled across the Hundertwasser Haus while in Vienna a few years ago - it really is a marvelous work of fancy. It's very happy and charming and whimsical - such a refreshing contrast to the angular, metal buildings by other starchitects - buildings that look like they wan to crush you.

    I'm not sure about the melody for the feet... it was interesting, but the planner in me worries about universal access. =)

    Nice to see a post with so many of his buildings all together, I hadn't seen the extent of his work before.

  2. Hello Jason, i'm a fan of your blog, could I translate this post to spanish at

  3. Hundertwasser is definitely in a class of his own... and definitely some unique form amidst the relative uniformity of design solutions. Even the recent buildings using vegetation - it is often 'structured' similarly to the architecture and not allowed to provide softness.

    Hundertwasser's work is not necessarily even an aesthetic I am drawn to, being more of a clean line/modernist - but there's something compelling that could interject design - maybe in the letting go of control and having some organicism injected - which is definitely going to happen when plants are allowed, literally, their own space in architecture.

    And of course urbanarbolismo... Translate away!

  4. i like it this is veri amazing....tanks u some mach


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