Friedensreich Hundertwasser is an Austrian artist and architect who has gained world wide renown. Some of his more profound ideas include:

Covering the roof of any building he constructs with grass, meadow, or even trees, so that when the building is complete there is a zero sum loss of natural space

A brilliant composting "humus toilet", easy to install and operate that turns human waste into fertile soil over a period of time. The system is odorless and can be used in both rural and urban settings.

Allow for "tree tenants" in large apartment complexes. Basically the idea that a room be ceded to a tree, which is grown sticking out of the window. The tree pays its rent by purifying the air and water.

A renter's right to decorate the outside of their apartment as far as their arms can extend out the window. This has resulted in some very lively and colorful facades on his buildings.

His projects have included:

A church.

A health spa.

Roadside gas station/truck stop tourist center.

Stamps.

New (un-adopted) flags for Austria and New Zealand.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was born in Vienna, Austria on 15 December 1928 as Friedrich Stowasser. Over the years he has often changed his name, to account for all the different activities he was busy with.

Hunderwasser spent some time at the art academy in Vienna but never finished it; he left as soon he had mastered the basic principles of body abstraction, nude studies and painting after nature. Hundertwasser was greatly influenced by Egon Schiele, who painted houses as if they were living creatures, by Paul Klee and Gustav Klimt, and by Walter Kampmann, who portrayed trees as personalities.

One of the main themes that keep recurring in his work is the inhuman regularity of the modern city, a machine meant for living in where life has to adapt to the pace of the machine. This concept leads to an aversion of straight lined rationality. Hunderwasser was convinced that straight lines are unhealthy for the body as well as the mind. Straight lines do not occur in nature and therefore they subject people to a continuing stimulus they ultimately cannot cope with. This idea is reflected in many of Hundertwasser's paintings but most of all in his architecture. He has designed many different buildings, some of which have actually been built. Amongst them are houses, an appartment building (the Hundertwasser Haus in Vienna), a factory for city heating and a church. In his designs straight lines and repetition are avoided as much as possible, no two windows are the same. They are full of colourful details, like onion shaped towers in gold and silver and coloured key-stones above the windows.. Some of the more revolutionary concepts in Hunderwasser's archtitecture are grass roofs, on which trees grow, and the 'tree tenants': trees that are rooted inside the building and grow out the window. Hundertwasser was probably one of the first people to consider ecology while designing houses and factories, they usually contained waste water cleaning systems based on micro-organisms. Apart from designing new buildings, Hunderwasser also worked as a 'doctor for architecture', a job he had invented himself and which involved the change and decoration of existing sterile and soulless buildings, thus making them more humane.

A very active man, Hundertwasser has made more pieces of art and said more interesting things than can ever be mentioned here. He died on 19 February 2000, on board the Queen Elizabeth II at sea.


Gritchka points out to me that Russian 'sto' = German 'hundert' (= English 'hundred'.) This might indeed explain the name Hundertwasser very well!
sources: 'Hundertwasser' by Harry Rand (Taschen) and www.brittanica.com.
For pictures of his works, more biographical info and lots of quotes try www.hundertwasser.com, the homepage of the Kunsthaus Wien

"Just carrying a ruler with you in your pocket should be forbidden, at least on a moral basis. The ruler is the symbol of the new illiteracy. The ruler is the symptom of the new disease, disintegration of our civilisation." - Hundertwasser, from his Mould Manifesto Against Rationalism in Architecture, a speech given at Seckau Abbey on July 4, 1958.

"The straight line leads to the downfall of humanity." - Hundertwasser

Friedensreich Hundertwasser so believed in the negative influence of "straight line" architecture on one's health, that he encouraged people to refuse to enter into buildings that were based on the ninety degree angle / grid paradigm. He told people that if they were supposed to meet somebody in one of those straight buildings, they should call from a phone outside and ask the person to meet them under a tree, or in a Baroque pavilion. He said "I will carry a kilogramme of plaster of paris around with me. If I receive an invitation to go somewhere, i will have a look at the building first. If it is a smooth one in which people are confined who are not allowed to do anything, who can do nothing, want to do nothing, I will insist on putting a nice lump of plaster of paris on the wall with my own hands. If I am not permitted to do this I won't go in."

Hundertwasser was a big fan of decay, deterioration, rust, vandalism, graffiti - anything that would encroach upon the tyranny of the rigid, measured and sterile world, undermining its fascist authority and returning objects to a state more harmonious with nature. He yearned for bright colors, twisting and irregular lines that reflected man's meandering path through his day, the unstructured debris of life careening towards entropy.

Hundertwasser's statements about the evil of "straight lines" taken out of context sound ridiculous and fanatical, and they are funny, but in the context of his work, it is apparent that these proclamations and manifestos are an impassioned incitement for people to take their living environments into their own hands. To no longer allow themselves to be constrained within the inflexible, the dull and severe world dictated by modern architectural fashion, but to demand the right to beautify their surroundings. It was his belief that everyone should be their own architect, living within spaces that they designed, built and loved, and that only this kind of creative expression could save people from spiritual death.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was also famous for giving lectures in the nude.

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