- Coop Himmelb(l)au
BiographyEstablished in 1968, the Coop Himmelb(l)au group of architects is internationally renowned for its experimental theories on architecture. The design studio was founded by Wolf Dieter Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky and Rainer Michael Holzer.
Prix is currently the practice’s Design Principal and CEO. Holzer and Swiczinsky remained with the practice until 1971 and 2001 respectively.
Born in Vienna in 1942, Wolf D. Prix studied architecture at Vienna University of Technology, the Architectural Association, London and Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Los Angeles.
A member of several architecture institutions (including Österreichische Bundeskammer der Architekten und Ingenieurkonsulenten, Bund Deutscher Architekten, Germany (BDA) and Royal Institute of British Architects - RIBA), Prix is "one of the leading originators of the deconstructivist architecture movement".
“In the 1970s Prix and Swiczinsky (...) created designs that dematerialized the heaviness of conventional architecture through unexpected airy angles and complicated spatial solutions. These exuberant results were achieved through a process that Prix described as "drawing with one’s eyes closed", a technique comparable to the automatic drawing practiced by Dadaists and Surrealists in the 1920s and 30s" (J. Zukowsky, Enc. Britannica).
Although best known in the early years for provocative work and research which primarily comprised artistic installations, the Eighties saw practical completion of some of the Studio’s bolder projects.
These include the penthouse at Falkestrasse 6 a Vienna (1988), where the Practice created an additional story in sharp contrast with the character of the historic building and Funder Werk factory in St. Veit an der Glan, Austria (1987-1989).
The latter, with its "expressive architecture", consists of elements that give the complex “an unmistakable head and body. The playful sculptural evocation of the power station with the "dancing chimneys", media bridge as a connection between energy and production, free design of the flying roof as "wings", shaped canopies over the entrances, and the corner of the laboratory and office areas dissolving into glass towards the south, in contrast with the production hall, which was purposely kept white and simple."
The overall effect of these solutions "looking like angular explosions of metal and glass, serve to disrupt their traditional surroundings and people’s expectations of architecture". This warranted their inclusion in the 1988 "Deconstructivist Architecture” exhibition at MoMA, New York which led to the Practice’s international acclaim.
Questioning the “clean lines, rectangular shapes and rigid spatial planning of Modernist architects such as Le Corbusier", the Practice created designs which were acclaimed for their counter-current spirit, and aggressive, often brutal and contorted yet decidedly innovative forms.
Their design methods are perfectly interpreted by 3D rendering software, that accentuates the lightness and apparent inconsistency of the relationship between constructed sections.
This concept gave the Practice its name, "Himmelblau”, which means “sky blue”. By putting the "l” in brackets it is transformed into "Himmelbau" which means “construction in the sky”.
Today, their mission is that architecture is thought of “as part of the 21st century, as art which reflects and provides a mirror image of the variety, vivacity, tension and complexity of our cities".
Notable projects include the contemporary art pavilion, Museum of Groningen, Netherlands (1994), the Gasometer, an industrial building converted into a housing complex in Vienna (2001) and the multi-functional BMW Welt building, Munich, Bavaria (2007).
Numerous public buildings, museums, schools and cultural centers have become true urban landmarks. These include early designs in Germany and Austria alongside more recent projects in China and South Korea, such as “the colossal, sculptural International Conference Center, Dalian, China (2011) and Busan Cinema Center, South Korea (2008-2011), an extensive complex which houses theaters, cinemas, entertainment areas, restaurants and administrative offices, and features a cantilevered roof supported only by a central cone-shaped column" (Treccani).
Recent projects include the five-star hotel tower at Dawang Mountain Resort in Changsha, China (2017). Ongoing projects include the Central Bank of Azerbaijan in Baku, 5th World Russell Means Library in Porcupine, and Science and Technology Museum in Xingtai, China.
In addition to the co-founder, Prix, directors currently comprise Harald Krieger, Karolin Schmidbaur and Markus Prossnigg, in addition to a team of 150 people from 19 different countries throughout the world. Numerous prizes and awards include the American Architecture Award in 2005 (for the Akron Art Museum), International Architecture Award in 2007 and RIBA European Award in 2008 (for BMW Welt).
Coop Himmelb(l)au selected works and projects
- Science and Technology Museum Xingtai (Cina), 2019 - in corso
- Edificio residenziale sociale Cape 10, Vienna (Austria), 2019
- Paneum - Wunderkammer des Brotes (House of Bread II), Asten (Austria), 2017
- Alban Berg Sculpture, Vienna (Austria), 2016
- Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE), Shenzhen (Cina), 2016
- The 5th World, Russell Means Library, Porcupine, South Dakota (USA), 2015 - in corso
- European Central Bank (ECB), Francoforte sul Meno (Germania), 2014
- Flying Garden Tower - Gateway Gardens (progetto), Francoforte sul Meno (Germania), 2014
- Musée des Confluences, Lione (Francia), 2014
- House of Music II, Aalborg (Danimarca), 2014
- Ice World and 5 Star Hotel Star, Dawang Mountain Resort, Changsha (Cina), 2013 - in corso
- Busan Cinema Center, Busan (Corea del Sud), 2012
- Dalian International Conference Center, Dalian (Cina), 2012
- Martin Luther Church, Hainburg (Austria), 2011
- Olympic Lake Park Rio (progetto), Rio de Janeiro (Brasile), 2011
- Public Transportation Complex (progetto), Toulon (Francia), 2009
- Central Bank Azerbaijan, Baku (Azerbaijan), 2008 - in corso
- Edificio polifunzionale BMW Welt, Monaco di Baviera (Germania), 2007
- Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio (USA), 2007
- Villa S., Millstatt (Austria), 2006
- Apartment and Office Building Schlachthausgasse, Vienna (Austria), 2005
- Espansione dell'Academy of Fine Arts, Monaco (Germania), 2005
- Apartment Building Gasometer B, Vienna (Austria), 2001
- Centro cinematografico UFA, Dresda (Germania), 1998
- Ufficio e centro ricerche, Seibersdorf (Austria), 1995
- Padiglione di arte contemporanea del Museo di Groningen (Olanda), 1994
- Rehak House (progetto), Los Angeles (USA), 1990
- Installazione Folly # 6 per EXPO '90, Osaka (Giappone), 1990
- Funder Werk 3, St.Veit/Glan, (Austria), 1989
- Attico in Falkestrasse 6, Vienna (Austria), 1988
- Mostra “Architecture is now”, Stoccarda (Germania), 1982
- Hot flat, Vienna (Austria), 1978
- Casa con il tetto volante, Londra (Inghilterra), 1973
- Villa Rosa, 1968
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