Rock, by Hollein

Soprastructure over Vienna, Hans Hollein, 1960 - Collection Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Soprastructure over Vienna, Hans Hollein, 1960 - Collection Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
(click-2-enlarge)

It took six days for the letter with cd to get from Vienna to Delft. To then find out that the ‘Ueberbauung of Wien’, the overbuilding of Vienna, consists only of a single image. It takes only one image to provoke a world of architects.

The design was one of the very first projects of the Austrian architect Hans Hollein and is dated as ‘1960’. As we read on Wikipedia Hollein back then joined the Vienna Avant-Garde, including Hundertwasser, and worked for some years on art-architecture projects in which he protested against the then reigning functionalism, such as this fictional proposal to overbuilt the city of Vienna with gigantic rocks.

To quote some of the slogans used then, here translated from German:

“When we now want a Beauty, then a sinful Beauty, elementary Authority.”
“We have to free Architecture from Building!”
“Architects must stop, just to think in Buildings!”

We have to think the ‘Overbuilding of Vienna’ then like a proposal, which is no proposal. Something to imagine, but never to build.

Solid rock structures, a bit like giant echoes of the ancient Dolmen (also called Hünegrabs) that were build more than 5000 years ago in Western Europe, but also in Asia and the Middle-East. Pretty much the first architecture around, that -interestingly- is not included in the academic architecture history. Hollein though brought this superformal architecture back to our attention, by drawing it on an unprecedented scale hovering above the ‘old’ city of Vienna.

In the book ’Archisculpture’ Markus Brüderlin connects the Hollein’s early work to the ‘Art Informel’ which can be related to ‘Abstract Expressionism’. Which also includes the work of Jackson Pollock, whose work earlier appeared on Eikongraphia when I discussed the abstract rocks and trees that Erick van Egeraat nowadays designs. Maybe I see circles, maybe there are circles. It certainly makes me dizzy.

I have to admit I mailed Hollein’s office for the project, because I came across it several times and connected it to iconography. My projection was: these rocks were meant to be inhabitable. Today such structures could be actually proposed like that, and not only in Dubai. We got pretty far from functionalist exteriors.

Comparable formal studies today all have to do with complex geometries that are drawn/programmed in 3-d software. In 50 years, will somebody write that one then could actually build such projects? Let’s hope so.

Knocknakilla Dolmen (Photograph: Wikipedia)
Knocknakilla Dolmen (Photograph: Wikipedia)

Related iconography: Rock, by Nouvel, Rock + Cave, by EEA, Boulder, by EEA, Boulder, by Alsop

Related Vienna: Vienna 1: Modernism, Vienna 2: Elvis, Vienna 3: Shopping

The project is added to the Representation, Architects and Top 10 pages.


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