Although brought up in Vienna and an irregular resident here, it would only be fair to describe Friedensreich Hundertwasser as a citizen of the world. Nevertheless, he left his mark on the city’s physical and cultural landscape like almost no other.
Use the map and info below to find the main locations of interest if you wish to follow in the great man’s literal footsteps.
(Incidentally, the Leopold Museum currently has a major Hundertwasser – Schiele exhibition on until August 31st, 2020. Full of original works and biographical items like letters and postcards.)
Top Hundertwasser sites
Inevitably, we have to begin with the Hundertwasserhaus, the distinctive 1985 apartment block that has become one of Vienna’s prime tourist attractions.
This is just another council house run by the municipal authorities, if you ignore the astonishing shapes, colours, and integrated vegetation. A lot of tours stop off here, so expect crowds. You can’t actually go inside, but opposite the house is a small mall (the Hundertwasser Village), which Hundertwasser also helped design.
Kunst Haus Wien
Hundertwasser also designed the Kunst Haus Wien, which houses a regular photo exhibition and the Hundertwasser Museum. You have a double whammy of delights:
- First, the characteristic architecture, both inside and out, with its tree tenants, curved walls and floors
- Second, the museum, which chronicles Hundertwasser’s artistic evolution with the help of numerous works of art
The café also offers something a little different to the more traditional Viennese establishments. Go to the toilet while there (trust me on this).
Hundertwasser redesigned the chimney and entire facade of the Spittelau municipal incinerator in the late 1980s. The facility continues to provide energy, heat and warm water to thousands of households in Vienna.
Some might argue that the architectural impact exceeds even that of the more well-known Hundertwasserhaus. The golden ball near the top of the chimney has certainly become a distinctive city landmark.
A rather inoffensive house located in the 2nd district near the Augarten Park provided a childhood home for Hundertwasser.
Obere Donaustraße 12 was no urban idyll, though. A plaque outside (in German and English) explains how the Nazis forced Hundertwasser and his Jewish mother to move here in 1938. They both survived the war, though dozens of their relatives died in concentration camps.
- Just a little way off Kunst Haus Wien is the Donaukanal (Danube Canal), a channel of the Danube that runs through the city centre. Landing stages dot the banks and Hundertwasser designed the one at Weißgerberlände 28. The walk alongside is the Hundertwasser Promenade.
- Hundertwasser had a studio at the top of the Ankerhaus, a multi-functional building on Vienna’s famous Graben boulevard. Another great son of the city, Otto Wagner, designed the house, which dates back to the mid-1890s.
- In my wanderings around the city, I stumbled across one of Hundertwasser’s paintings (1955’s The Large Path) hanging on the top floor of Upper Belvedere palace. This is the same art museum that houses numerous works by Klimt, including The Kiss.
- A small square in Vienna’s 15th district bears the name Friedensreich-Hundertwasser-Platz