Bettering The World One Multi-Colored Building At A Time - Hundertwasser's Vienna

Architecture meets art meets due-diligence—and it makes for an amazing photograph

By Christine Wilson

3 August 2018

When you imagine Vienna, the image of a polished and refined city likely comes to mind. It makes sense, since Vienna is home to names like Mozart, Freud, and the Imperial Hapsburg family. But that image is squashed once you discover the vividly bright, cartoon-like buildings dotted throughout the Baroque city. These futuristic works are the creation of architect and artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser (nee Freidrich Stowasser).

Famous Painters

What Gaudí is to Barcelona, Hundertwasser is to Vienna: a refreshing break from the historical sites of Europe and an eclecticism that leaves you curious to know more about the genius responsible. An avant-garde mastermind, Hundertwasser was born in Vienna in 1928 to a Jewish mother and Christian father. He was influenced by fellow Viennese artists Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, though he never ended up devoting himself fully to any particular school of art. His architecture within Vienna, with its rich colors and unique patterns, comes as a pleasant surprise—it sets itself apart from what is otherwise a monochromatic landscape.  

But Hundertwasser's work doesn't serve the sole purpose of making your Instagram followers drool. Each of his buildings serve to further his philosophy of sustainability and environmental protection. Here are his Viennese landmarks. They'll not only excite your visual senses, but will also get you thinking about the impact of the structures built in our cities.



Hundertwasser haus, an apartment complex located in the heart of the city’sLandstraße district, is the best known of Hundertwasser's constructions. Hundertwasser felt strongly about the presence of nature within metropolitan dwellings, believing in nature's ability to purify the atmosphere and better our lives with its presence. A living forest sits on the rooftop of the building and large trees burst from each windowsill—a concept Hundertwasser calls the "Tree Tenants." The building houses 52 apartments and is a private residence. If you want to get a look inside, you'll need to brush up on your German and make some local friends!


Kunst Haus Wien

Just a five minute walk from the Hundertwasser house is Kunst Haus Wien—a museum devoted to his paintings, tapestries, monotypes and architectural endeavors. The façade—a mélange of colored tiles, wavy lines and greenery galore—is just as interesting as the collection it contains. The gallery is adorned with quotes from the artist that will help you understand the type of person he was ("The straight line leads to the downfall of humanity") and showcases his advocacy for ecological protection. You can also read his written manifestos criticizing the architectural culture of his time and his innovations for nature-friendly urban planning.


Spittelau District Heating Plant

Vienna makes international strides in being a Green City with local transport methods such as greenride, a transfer company with a fleet of electric-only vehicles, and top notch Organic restaurants (Cristina Rojik—die Bio-Wirtin is one in particular worth checking out—even the whole wine list is organic). It's no surprise that this incineration plant, which recycles enough household waste to heat over 60,000 Viennese homes a year, was turned into a visual landmark thanks to Hundertwasser. Spittelau is slightly on the outer-edge of the city, but easily accessed by subway (the neighboring train station too makes for a great spot to get some height for a killer photo). If you're in no rush, walk along the nearby Danube River to get yourself back to the city center.

You don't need to go to Vienna (though, you should) to experience Hundertwasser. His work can be found across Germany, to as far as New Zealand and Japan (if you’re heading to Osaka, the Maishima Incineration Plant when contrasted with Japanese architecture makes for a particularly dazzling sight). Wherever you happen to find him, you'll know that his innate desire to protect Mother Nature lies behind each smile-evoking structure.


Christine works in the travel industry and it's the only career she knows (or ever wants to). Prior to this, she completed a degree in French studies which was mostly just an excuse to live in France. When not traveling, you can find her on the balcony of her Toronto apartment with a book and a glass of wine. You can find her on Instagram and LinkedIn.