Friedensreich Hundertwasser

We are living in a period of great upheaval, at a turning point for humanity.

The era of absolute rationalism is ending.
Einstein said, “If the equation is not beautiful, it can’t be right.”
That is precisely the opposite of what the functionalists, rationalists and technocrats preach.
Not without reason were the first technological facilities 100 years ago bashfully disguised - cars as horse-drawn coaches, the machines, elevators, telephones, gas lanterns, electric chandeliers, subway and elevated-railway stairways were works of art which are now in museums.
Back then they knew very well that technical rationalism was a sin and had to be hidden behind art.
Today we are experiencing the triumph of rational technology, but at the same time we are standing before the void. Aesthetic emptiness, uniform desert, murderous sterility, creative impotence. The architects’ responsibility for what they do is slipping away from them.
The architects are building in a criminal way unworthy of human beings, crackpot ideas turned to concrete.
They are building prison cells in which the soul of man perishes. The architect acts like a war criminal; obediently he follows orders, even against his own conscience. He builds cancer tumours of concrete which eat up nature and man along with it.
The modern, sterile, heartless architecture is not in keeping with the Austrian character, Austrian feelings, Austrian mentality.
Why do we have to accept international emotionless mediocrity in architecture or foreign forms which do not fit in here?
And at that, what leads to the future is not new. All that needs to happen is that the dignity of man be restored to architecture.
Why use the ruler so heartlessly while everybody knows that the straight line is a dangerous, comfortable hallucination which is bringing us to ruin?
The architects revere the straight line and what is even and flat. Everything slips off smooth surfaces. Even the good Lord falls down.
For the straight line is godless.
The straight line is the only uncreative line. The only line which does not befit man as being in the image of God.
The straight line is a true tool of the Devil.
A person who uses it aids and abets the ruin of humanity.
Today industrial buildings are piled up prefabricated buildings, like boxes or containers.
Actually everybody can build any way he likes in an industrial zone, without any minimal demands as to aesthetics, human dignity and nature-adapted architecture.
Even the restrictions invoked in the city, such as preservation of the city skyline and adaptation to surroundings, do not exist in industrial zones.
Work in an industrial building such as this is condemned to creative impotence. The soul of the people working there goes to the dogs. Lifeless sterility is the enemy of all life.
The absence of any culture is a sign of the low point our civilization has reached. The example of the Spittelau heating plant is proof that instead of the existing rational, impersonal architecture, from which we all suffer, a creative spirit can be brought to life which is in harmony with nature. It can contribute to combatting anonymity in our cities. I know, it takes courage to realise something which points to the future, but which is ridiculed and opposed by today’s establishment as nonsense.
The Costs
Rational architecture is costing us a lot, for the huge losses it incurs far outstrip the savings this method of construction claims to bring.
You are confusing true, lasting values with a short-term, materialistic bottom-line mentality. True values are increased: quality of life, health, contentment, longing for romanticism, individuality, creativity, a life in harmony with nature, with your own dreams and with other people.
Everybody knows that quality is the cheapest commodity. The balance sheet is cooked when you leave all the negative factors - vandalism, discontent, illness etc. - out of the equation.
Prefabricated construction means the end of humanity.
Only if you think and act creatively are you alive.
We are actually dead because we are not creative. In industrial architecture many sins have been committed, more than in the cities, against people who spend more time in the sterile industrial buildings unworthy of man than at home.
It is sad when, in the name of progress, of industrial growth at any price, the cultural heritage and in particular the soul of man and the people is destroyed.


Written 1989 on the occasion of the presentation of the architecture model for the redesign of the Spittelau District Heating Plant, on basis of the text „The Turn“, 1979

Published in:

Hundertwasser Architecture. For a More Human Architecture in Harmony with Nature. Cologne: Taschen, 1997, pp. 190-192 and edition 2007, pp. 160-162

Hundertwasser. New York: Parkstone Press International, 2008, pp. 165-167

Hundertwasser The Green City, Exhibition catalogue, Sejong Museum of Art, Seoul, 2016, pp. 184-185, excerpt (English/Korean)