Friedensreich Hundertwasser - his ideas behind his architecture as an inspiration for the meaning of fashion
“I would like to encourage architects to build more beautiful and individual houses, in harmony with nature and observing human dreams.” - Hundertwasser
Friedensreich Hundertwasser didn´t like the “big fashion stars” who announce the new trends of the season and what you should or shouldn´t wear in the next spring/summer or fall/winter.
Instead, Hundertwasser sometimes wore his pajamas all day long and two different pairs of socks or didn't tie his shoes.
Fashion critics would call this a Fashion sin. But in the 21st century where people wear jogging trousers and sneakers the whole day and pullover and jeans at an opera, we might wonder if there is still something like a Fashion sin or if we can wear whatever we like, at least to a certain degree.
I would agree with Hundertwasser in the sense that we should only wear clothes we feel most comfortable in. But I would also say that Fashion can be a way of showing respect to someone or something, such as clothing that we traditionally wear for weddings or funerals. Sometimes this also means going out of our comfort zone for a day.
Who is Friedensreich Hundertwasser?
Fritz Stowasser, a famous Austrian painter and architect, was born on the 15th of December, 1928 in Vienna. In 1949 he changed his name to Friedensreich Hundertwasser (“sto” means in the slavonic language hundert). Later he added Regentag and Dunkelbunt to his last name (Rainy day and dark-colored).
Looking at his paintings and architecture I would describe it as fantasies and dreams. In an interview, Hundertwasser said once that he identifies himself with his work in contrast to a lot of other artists who don't ́t do that because they don't ́t believe in anything. They only make art to stay presentable and make money. “I have faith and that one goes in the detail - I believe in colors for example.” 1
Besides Hundertwassers play with colors, his work is characterized by organic and flowing forms because he didn´t like straight lines. He also personifies that architecture is the 3rd skin after clothes (2nd skin) and the normal skin (1st skin).
In my opinion, there is surely a relation between the clothes we wear and the places we live in. Fashion is often called the mirror of the society that reflects social, political and ecological conditions of a certain time. Architecture has the ability to do the same.
Who wouldn´t want a tree as a roommate?
His thoughts on the ecological building are more important today than ever. It describes the simple idea of giving back to the earth the basic surface that is taken away from it when building a house by planting on the roof.
His last house in Magdeburg is giving back 1.5 times of the surface through the planted roofs and terraces as well as the integration of trees in the apartments. If you rent an apartment he designed, you might already have a housemate: a tree. 171 trees are supposed to be on and in the Grüne Zitadelle of Magdeburg.
Circa 90% of this Hundertwasser building is also made out of materials from and around the city of Magdeburg for a shorter way of transportation and supporting the local infrastructure. This was another aspect of Hundertwasser’s ecological idea of architecture. 2
What was Hundertwassers idea of putting the apartment tenants first?
Above every window is a crown, made out of mosaic. Hundertwasser's goal is to show his tenants how important they are. That´s why Hundertwasser also gave them the “window right” which gives every tenant the right to design the outside walls surrounding the windows. More precisely, any area he can touch with outstretched arms.
Why should you go far if you find everything where you live?
The word “citadella” means little city in Italy which accurately describes this apartment building. Next to the apartments are little stores as well as a hotel and cafe in the building. Various medical practices are also accommodated in the round tower of the buildings. His place truly combines functionality with experiences.
Why are Hundertwassers ideas universal not only for art and architecture but for a lot of areas in our life?
“I would like to encourage architects to build more beautiful and individual houses, in harmony with nature and observing human dreams.” Hundertwasser once said. 3
Aside from the fact that I like Hundertwassers architecture and his visions behind his creations, I believe that some main aspects can be meaningful for our future lifestyle.
- The idea of giving back to nature what is taken from her. More and more architects follow the concept of reproducing nature on the rooftop, displacing the space taken away from nature by the house.
- The idea of creating more individual pieces instead of mass productions.
- The idea of sourcing local materials to avoid long transports.
- The idea that the tenants play the most important role in building a house.
- The concept of embracing colors and using them to create out-of-standard buildings.
Why is there a connection between the Hundertwassers house in Magdeburg (Germany) and America?
The Hundertwasser house in Magdeburg is in a street called “Breite Straße” (weite Straße). When the first Dutch immigrants came to America, they built wide streets which are called ”brede straat” in the Netherlands. Nieuw Amsterdam (New Amsterdam) was called the headquarter of the Dutch colony in the area of Manhattan from 1624 until 1664. In 1664 the British conquered the colony and the brede straat became the Broadway which it still is today. In the same way, Nieuw Amsterdam became New York.
Friedenswasser Hundertwasser died on the 19th of February 2000. His house in Magdeburg was his last project and was completed in 2005. He once said that “Humans long for beauty, for harmony, for nature.” 4 So, let´s create this beauty, this harmony and the connection to nature in everything we do!
1 Martens, Michael: Ohne Lüge können wir nicht existieren; Ein Gespräch zur Person und über die Zeit Friendensreich Hundertwasser, 2003, p. 23
2 City guide Magdeburg
3 Martens, Michael: Ohne Lüge können wir nicht existieren; Ein Gespräch zur Person und über die Zeit Friendensreich Hundertwasser, 2003, p. 39
4 Martens, Michael: Ohne Lüge können wir nicht existieren; Ein Gespräch zur Person und über die Zeit Friendensreich Hundertwasser, 2003, p. 31