If you’re getting dizzy from Imperial-this, Habsburg-that, take a short trip out to the Hundertwasserhaus for some colourful recalibration.
- Fascinating apartment house in classic Hundertwasser style
- You can’t explore inside
- Small mall opposite is a Hundertwasser design, too
- Pop across to the Kunst Haus Wien, as well
- See also:
The Hundertwasser House
Forget straight lines and rectangular conformity. The Hundertwasserhaus forms a mosaic of shapes, colours and pillars in the fashion typically associated with artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
The design comes as no surprise, given Hundertwasser himself and architect Joseph Krawina formed the creative brains behind what has become one of Vienna’s most-visited attractions. The overal effect, to quote one travel blogger is:
…a contender for Europe’s most quirky tourist attraction. (Source)
(Time has dulled some of the brightness)
The building was Hundertwasser’s first architectural work, completed in 1985 at a cost of over €7 million. He went on to pursue various other building projects, including an iconic Viennese incinerator.
This is no ordinary house, of course, as a look at the photos reveals.
Vegetation carpets the roof (they used 900 tonnes of earth to construct the terraces). And plants (Hundertwasser’s “tree tenants”) appear all over the place, often where you’d least expect them.
(The roof and some of the façade mosaics)
The collage of colors isn’t quite as striking as in years past; time has dampened the Hundertwasserhaus’s bright colours and turned the white into more of a light grey. Nevertheless, the whole construction remains a colourful antidote to modern architectural practice.
The house actually belongs to the city of Vienna, who rent out the apartments to individuals just like with any other public housing.
As a result, you can’t go inside (real people live there), but you can wander around the outside or access the terrace café.
(The view from Löwengasse. Note the tree tenants)
If you crave a closer look at the architectural concepts, then pop into the Hundertwasser Village opposite. This small, mall-like construction, completed in 1991, features the usual Hundertwasser flair thanks to the great man’s guidance.
Inside the village, various small shops and snack outlets surround a central bar, spilling out into the street.
Quite what Hundertwasser would think of it all now, I don’t know, given that many of these shops were run-of-the-mill souvenir stores on my last visit.
(The nearby Kunst Haus Wien)
Crowds often gather outside Hundertwasserhaus, drawn by the reputation. What many don’t know is that a short walk away takes you to the fabulous Kunst Haus Wien: another (possibly better) option should you wish a deeper understanding of Hundertwasser’s architectural and artistic vision.
The Kunst Haus Wien includes an excellent museum dedicated to Hundertwasser’s life and art, with many of his works on display. The location also hosts special exhibitions and temporary art installations.
Go inside and discover, for example, just how those trees that grow out from the walls remain anchored in the building. Be sure to visit the iconoclastic café there, too.
Note that the Kunst Haus Wien closed on June 1st, 2023 for a period of renovation. But you can still view the outside until the planned reopening in early 2024.
How to get to the Hundertwasserhaus
Subway: there is no station immediately nearby, but the U3 stations Wien Mitte-Landstraße and Rochusgasse are not far away. Wien Mitte-Landstraße is also a stop on the U4.
Tram/bus: simply catch tram line 1 to Hetzgasse, which is just a few metres from Hundertwasserhaus.
Address: Kegelgasse 34-38 / Löwengasse 41-43, 1030 Vienna