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 a significant mark on the city’s physical and cultural landscape.
Top Hundertwasser sites
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.
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…but only 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.
If you wish to actually wander around the interior of a Hundertwasser building, then try this:
Kunst Haus Wien
Hundertwasser also designed (and founded) the Kunst Haus Wien, an institution that houses 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 and installations
The café also offers something a little different to the more traditional Viennese establishments. Go to the toilet while there (trust me on this).
The Kunst Haus Wien also hosts regular photo exhibitions of particularly high quality, with, for example, recent solo exhibitions for the likes of Susan Meiselas, Alec Soth, and Elfie Semotan.
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 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.
The first tree went into the façade of the building at Alterbachstraße 11 in 1981 as part of Hunderwasser’s tree tenant initiative.
A plaque outside in German and English commemorates the event. The hornbeam tree you see now replaced the original (which suffered damage during renovation work).
A rather inoffensive house located at Obere Donaustraße 12 in the 2nd district (near the Augarten Park) provided a childhood home for Hundertwasser.
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.
- 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 itself, which dates back to the mid-1890s.
- In my wanderings around the city’s art venues, I stumbled across one of Hundertwasser’s paintings hanging on the top floor of Upper Belvedere palace. This is the same museum that houses numerous works by Klimt, including The Kiss.
- 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.
- A small square in Vienna’s 15th district bears the name Friedensreich-Hundertwasser-Platz