Category Archives: landscape

Hundertwasserhaus, Vienna

Hundertwasser Hse., Vienna, by enclos*ure

This is the Hundertwasser House in Vienna, Austria, an apartment building designed and constructed in the early 1980s from the concepts of visionary Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

I had admired pictures of it before, but I had forgotten that it was in Vienna until I was leafing though a pamphlet at the tourist office there in early July. I found that not only was it in the city, but that we could get there via a quick ride from the Ring Road on the no. 1 tram.*

This is Kegelgasse,

Kegelgasse, the bermed pedestrian street below the photo above.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser** was a painter and later worked in the field of applied art, creating flags, posters, and stamps.

From the 1950s, he also wrote and spoke passionately about “an architecture in harmony with nature and man” — and in what he called “new values” of a “yearning for romanticism, individuality, creativity, especially creativity.”

He wanted forested roofs, “tree tenants” on balconies, and “high rise” meadows.

In 1977, the mayor of Vienna was persuaded to give Hundertwasser a chance to try out his ideas on an apartment building. An architect (and then another) was assigned to help him create the technical drawings.

The quiet ground-level internal courtyard of the building.

Beyond the fountain above, the quiet internal courtyard of the building.

In 1980, at a press conference about the Haus, Hundertwasser expressed his philosophy of “window right” and “tree obligation.” You can read it here.

Some of his other statements about the building are below.

"Windows in rank and file are sad, . . .

“Windows in rank and file are sad, windows should be able to dance.” — F.H.

Photos above and below: The facade of the north side. Hundertwasser believed that every tenant should have the right to choose the decoration around his or her own windows.

. . .windows should be able to dance.' - F.H.

A person in a rented apartment must be able to lean out of his window and scrape off the masonry within arm’s reach. And he must be allowed to take a long brush and paint everything outside within arm’s reach. So that it will be visible from afar to everyone in the street that someone lives there who is different from the imprisoned, enslaved, standardised man who lives next door.

— F.H. (more of his words on the “apartheid of window races” here.)

The Löwengasse side of the building.

Photos above and below: The Lowengasse side of Hundertwasserhaus.  It does not stand alone, but is closely surrounded by traditional 19th and early 20th century apartment buildings.  On this side, I could see why some critics called the work “kitsch.”

“Romanticism has been declared kitsch and so we have been robbed or romanticism,” wrote Hundertwasser. “May one not dream? . . . The absence of kitsch makes life unbearable.”

and so we have been robbed of romanticism. May one not dream?. . .

In a[n apartment] house, an individually different, organic design of the outer wall of each individual apartment is of fundamental significance, so that the resident can identify with his house from the outside.

F.H.

The absence of kitsch makes life unbearable." - F.H.

[The terraces] open to the street are a gift for everyone . . . . [They] take away the house’s vertical aggressivity, street noise is lessened because the echo is no longer caught between the rows of buildings.

If the terraces are green and have trees on them, it is like a natural hill with people living in it. Walking through a city with ascending terraces is like wandering through a gentle, green valley.

F.H.

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Photos above: The pedestrian street along the north side of the building.

A lively, uneven floor in the public area means a regaining of the human dignity which man is deprived of by the levelling tendencies of urbanism. . . .

If modern man is forced to walk on asphalt, concrete FLAT surfaces, the way they are thoughtlessly conceived with the ruler in the designer offices, alienated from his natural relationship to the earth which goes back to the dawn of time, from contact with the earth, a crucial part of man is blunted, with catastrophic consequences for his psyche, his emotional balance, his well-being and health.

Man forgets how to experience things and becomes emotionally ill.

Thus, the flat floor becomes a true danger for man.

F.H.

The building contains 52 apartments, 16 private terraces, 3 communal terraces, and 250 trees and bushes, according to Wikipedia.

To scroll through larger versions of the photos, click on ‘Continue reading’ and then on any thumbnail in the gallery.

*The 1 tram starts out in front of the Opera House and moves along the west and north sides of the Ring Road. Just stay on until it veers off east on Radetzky Street. Hundertwasserhaus is on Löwengasse — on the left — right after you cross Blütengasse.

**He was born Friedrich Stowasser, but changed his name in the late 1940s. His adopted name translates as “Peace-Realm Hundred-Water.” He died in 2000, after working on a number of architectural projects in the 1980s and 90s.

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The Sunday porch: Houston, Texas

Originally posted in October 2013:

Old house in 1940s Houston, by John Vachon, Library of Congress Another photo by John Vachon — an old house with a double porch in Houston, Texas, May 1943.*  I love the tower room.

You really need to click on the photo and enlarge it to enjoy all the details of this one.

Sharp-eyed commenters on the Library of Congress’s Flickr Commons project noticed that the address on the curb is 1900 Franklin Street. The location is currently a parking lot next to the US Route 59 overpass, close to Minute Maid Park.

*via Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs Collection, Library of Congress.

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Vintage landscape: the lagoon

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of CongressThe Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in July 1942.  Two raised corridors crossed it and connected Department of War buildings. Photo by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Above, small boys were swimming in the pool. Collins called it a “lagoon” in her original photo caption — an allusion to Washington, D.C.’s tropical summer weather.

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress

Along the sides of the water, under the trees, government workers were eating lunch on the grass.

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress

These men took advantage of the additional shade cast by the structures.

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress

“Temporary” buildings for various military branches were constructed along the north side of the pool in 1918.  The offices on the south side — and the corridors — were added during World War II.

The walkways were removed in 1947.  The last of the buildings came down in 1970.

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Life in gardens: July 1942

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of CongressA hot Sunday in Washington, D.C., before air-conditioning.

All three photos of Ellipse Park by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress

The mean daytime temperature that month was 86° — the high was 98°; the low was 78°. The daily high for humidity ranged from 76% to 100%.

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress

In the dog days of summer . . .

The wind lifts up my life
And sets it some distance from where it was.

Meena Alexander, from “Dog Days of Summer

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Streifzug 4: more blumen

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Yesterday: a Blumen selbt schneiden or ‘cut your own flowers’ field, with an honor-system money box.

There were lots of calendulas and cornflowers, but only a few red poppies left in the Sommerblumen mischung or summer mix row.  In the next couple of weeks, we’ll have gladiolus and dahlias.

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