I first discovered Hundertwasser when I was researching for my visit to Vienna, Austria, a few years ago. I was immediately hooked on his quirky, colourful style. Since then, during my travels I’ve been keeping an eye out for Hundertwasser around the world.
Who is Hundertwasser?
Friedensreich Hundertwasser was born Friedrich Stowasser in Vienna in 1928. He spent some time at art school before he branched out into the architecture field in the 1950s. He travelled widely, living in many different locations before finally moving to New Zealand in the 1970s. He died in 2000 aboard the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship and is buried in New Zealand.
He is best known for his distinctive buildings. Possibly the best known one is the Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna. His designs all tend to be colourful and quirky, with not a single straight line in sight. He has also done dozens of other types of artwork, from simple paintings to designing postage stamps and flags.
Even after he died, many buildings have been built based on the designs Hundertwasser did in his lifetime, including some I have come across. I expect we are likely to see even more as time goes by.
Here are some of the places in the world I have come across his artwork.
It’s not surprising to hear that there are some great examples of Hundertwasser’s architecture in Vienna. As soon as I read about him, I knew I had to visit the Hundertwasserhaus while I was in the city. While tours were no longer available when I visited, it was still great to see this unique apartment building. Everywhere we looked there was a new detail to admire. Even the ground outside the building was rippling with small waves to avoid those straight lines Hundertwasser despised so much.
Across the road was a small shopping arcade called the Hundertwasser Village. It used to be a factory, but it has be redesigned and turned into a group of shops and cafes – mostly to take advantage of all the people who come to this little street to see Hundertwasserhaus.
Not too far away is the Kunst Haus Wien, or the Hundertwasser museum. Not only has this former factory been redeveloped in the Hundertwasser style, it also showcases many of his paintings and other works of art. After seeing all the colour at the Hundertwasserhaus it was a surprised to see that this building is predominantly black and white.
The fourth building we saw in Vienna came about by accident. We had (yet again!) got on a train going in the wrong direction and once we realised it we jumped off to go back in the other direction. As we were changing platforms I noticed a familiar style to the buildings we could see outside. So rather than get on the next train, we went out to take a look. The building was clearly industrial, but until I searched later, I had no idea what it was. It turns out that it is the thermal power plant in Spittelau.
While we were in Munich we planned a day trip to the nearby town of Regensburg. While I was researching I discovered that in a third town, that was almost on the way, was a bierhaus designed by Hundertwasser. On our way back to Munich we detoured to Abensberg to take a look at the Kuchlbauer Bierwelt.
We discovered that these buildings were based on a design by Hundertwasser but were not built until after his death and had to be slightly altered from his plans by Peter Pelikan, who had spent many years working with Hundertwasser. The Kuchlbauer Turm (tower) was originally designed to be 70 metres tall, but this had to be changed to a mere 34m. The tower symbolises Bavarian beer and the process by which it’s brewed, on this site alone it’s been done since the 1300s.
Right next door is the Kunst Haus Abensberg. While this building was actually designed by Peter Pelikan, it is clearly in the Hundertwasser style. Inside is a collection of works by Hundertwasser himself, ranging from some of his works of art to documents relating to the designs of some of his buildings.
Both the brewery and gallery offer guided tours, or you can just have a look around on your own. Unfortunately we were there too late in the day to go inside, but I hope to visit again next time we are in the area.
Zell Am See, Austria
I had no idea there was a Hundertwasser in Zell Am See until I stumbled across it. This time it was a fountain, right on the shore of the lake. It’s called the Austrian Fountain because it represents all the people of Austria. The nine columns are for each of the Austrian states. The colour of the columns are the states colours based on their coat of arms (also designed by Hundertwasser in the past), and the height is indicative of the relative size of that state’s population.
The fountain started to be built in 1996, but was completed under the watchful eyes of Peter Pelikan in 2003 after Hundertwasser’s death.
Where to Next?
There are Hundertwasser buildings all over the world. I will likely see his work again when I am in New Zealand early next year. He has some famous toilets in the northern town of Kawakawa that have been voted the best in the world, and a museum dedicated to his work has been built in Whangarei which expects to open this year (2020).
I will be keeping my eyes open as I travel far and wide because Hundertwasser’s work can be found in far flung countries such as Israel, Japan, the USA, even the Canary Islands. There are multiple locations through Germany and Austria as well as other European countries such as Switzerland and the Netherlands. It’s also possible more places will pop up as some more of his designs are turned into reality.
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Josie is a forty-something budget traveller. She only discovered travel in her late thirties, but since then has travelled extensively including taking an adult gap year. She is now based in Australia and loves sharing all she has learned about travelling on a budget but with the comforts a Gen Xer requires.