AGAINST RATIONALISM IN ARCHITECTURE
This manifesto, originally titled Verchimelungsmaifest gegen den
Rationalismus in der Architektur, was prepared in conjunction with an extensive
demonstration against modern functional architecture. Hundertwaser first
presented the manifesto to the public in a recitation at the Abbey of Seckau
(Austria) o July 4 1958. This was followed by recitations a the Galerie Van de
Loo, Munich, on July 11, and at the galerie Parnass, Wuppertal (German) on July
26. The manifesto has been published in German, Danish, Finnish, French and
Italian. This is the first translation in English (from the original German
transcript), and the first publication of the manifesto in English. Mouldiness
Manifesto is a distillation of Hundertwasser’s ideas on the subject of modern
architecture and reveals his irritation with the persistent trend toward what
he considers the disastrous sterility of functionalism as related to
Painting and sculpture are now free. Inasmuch as anyone may
produce any sort of structure (creation) and subsequently display it. In
architecture, however, this fundamental freedom to construct does not exist.
Our present, planned architecture cannot be considered art. Architecture in the
Western world has succumbed to the same censorship as has painting in the
Soviet Union. Our modern buildings are detached and pitiable compromise by men
of bad conscience who work with straight-edged rulers.
No restraint should be imposed upon the individual’s desire to
construct. Each person should be allowed to build ( and ought to build), and
would thus be truly responsible for the four walls within which he lives. There
is a certain risk that such a fantastic sort of amateur construction might
collapse, but we shouldnot be afraid of the human sacrifice that this new style
of construction might engender. It is the only way to stop the process in which
human beings move into their quarters like chickens into their coops. The big
revolution in architecture will come only with the acceptance of the concept of
absolute uninhabitability, just as the revolution is still in store for us,
since the course of architecture runs thirty years behind the other
If an inhabitant-built construction is unsound, its collapse will
usually be predictable and the tenants can escape. After that, however, each
tenant will be more critical and more creative regarding his own housing, and
with his own hands and from his own experience the tenant will make walls and
pilings stronger until they o longer seem too fragile.
The tangible and material uninhabitability of slums is preferable
to the moral uninhabitability of modern functional architecture. In the so
called slums only the human body can be oppressed, but in our modern
architecture (allegedly “constructed for the human being”) man’s soul
is oppressed. Therefore, the principle behind functional architecture should be
rejected. We should instead adopt as the premise for improvement the slum
principle, that is, wildly, luxuriantly growing architecture.
With time and experience functional architecture has proved
erroneous, just as has painting with a ruler. We are now finally approaching in
giant steps an architecture that will be impractical, non-utilitarian and
finally, totally uninhabitable.
We had to reject completely total tachistic automatism before we
finally came to see the wonders of transautomatism. Similarly only after
denigration of the concept of total uninhabitability and of the creative mould
process will we be able to see the wonders of a new, true, and free
However, since we halve not yet reached even the first stage of total
uninhabitability (because, unfortunately, we are not yet in a state of
transautomatism) we must strive to reach that state – i.e., accepting as
creative the process of mouldiness in architecture – as quickly as
The apartment house tenant must have the freedom to reach from his
window as far as his arms can stretch to scrape off the mortar or deface the
gridwork of his building. He must be allowed to paint as far as his arms can
reach – everything pink, for instance, so that from the street or from a
distance everyone can see that there lives a man who distinguishes himself from
his neighbors (those cooped up chickens!). He should be allowed to saw up the
walls and to make all kinds of changes and to fill his room with mud to
polyethylene – even if the architectural harmony of a so-called masterpiece is
destroyed in the process.
Yet all rental agreement and leases prohibit this!
The time has come for the people to rebel against their
confinement in cubical constructions (like chickens or rabbits in cages, a
confinement which is basically alien to human nature. Such a cage or utility
construction is a building alien to the nature of all three human types who
deal with it:
1. The architect and/or his design have no relationship to the
finished product, the building. Even the greatest architectural genius cannot
either select or predict his tenants. The so called human element in
architecture is a criminal fraud, especially when measurements and
determination are based on the statistically-average man of the
2. The brick-layer has no spiritual relationship to the building.
If for example, he wants to vary (if only slightly) the construction of a wall
according to his own personal concepts (if he has any), he loses his job. Even
more, of course, the brick layer is usually completely indifferent to questions
of innovation since he will not be living in the structure anyway.
3. The tenant has no relationship to the structure, since he has
not built it, but only moved into it. His human needs (his human space) are in
all probability completely different from those represented by the structure.
And this unfortunate situation will prevail even if the architect and the mason
concentrate on building exactly according to the specifications of the future
We will be able to speak of architecture only when architect,
mason, and tenant are a unity, which in practical terms means having one person
assume all three functions. Nothing else is architecture, but only a criminal
act become form.
Architect/mason/tenant is a trinity just like the Holy Trinity.
There is a great similarity, almost quasi-identity, of these two trinities. If
this unity, architect/mason/tenant, does not exist, there can be no
architecture, since the current manufactured constructions cannot possibly be
construed as architecture. Man has to regain his critical creative function,
without which he ceases to exit as a human being!
Also criminal is the use of the ruler in architecture, which a can
be easily proved, has become an instrument of decay for the architectural
trinity. Perpetuating the straight line ought to be forbidden, if only on a
moral basis The rule is the symbol of new illiteracy. The ruler is the symptom
of the new decay.
Today we live in a chaos of straight lines. If you do not believe
this, take the trouble to count the straight lines which surround you. And then
you will understand, for it is a never-ending task.
On one razor blade I have counted 546 straight lies. By imagining
a linear connection to another identical razor blade, one sees 1,092 straight
lines, and, adding the whole package, there are approximately 3,000 straight
lines form the same blade.
Not long ago possession of the straight line was a privilege of
royalty, wealth, and learning. Today every idiot carries millions of straight
lines in his pants pockets.
This imprisoning and entangling jungle of straight lines has to be
cleared. Until now man has always cleared away his jungles and freed himself.
But to clear a jungle one must first become aware that one is in a jungle. For
jungles take from us stealthily, without the knowledge of the population. This
time it is the jungle of the straight line.
We should reject any modern architecture in which the straight
line or the circle have been employed, if only for a moment or if only in a
conceptual way. Because of the straight line the products of design, drawing
board, and modeling have become sickeningly sterile and truly senseless. The
straight line is godless and immoral. The straight line is not a creative line,
but simply a reproductive lie. In it there live not God and human spirit, but a
mass created, brainless ant addicted to comfort.
Consequently, straight line structures (whether the line is
curving, bending, hanging , or perforating) will not endure. The straight line
represents a panic to stay in fashion. The straight line manifests the
architects anxiety an(l his desire to evolve into tachism, that is,
We should be glad when rust settles on a razor blade, when a wall
grows mouldy, or when moss grows over the geometric angles of a corner,
because, together with microbes and mushrooms, life thus moves into a house
through this process we more consciously become witnesses of the architectural
changes from which we must learn.
The irresponsible vandalism of current functional architects is
well known. In the beginning functional architects simply wanted to tear down
the beautiful stucco-facade house of the 1890s Jugenstil, and put up their own
empty structure. I cite Le Corbusier, who wanted to destroy Paris completely in
order to erect Justice, the constructions of Mies vander Rohe, Neutra, the
Bauhaus, Gropius, Johnson, Le Corbusier, etc., should be torn down, for even
thirty years ago they were already obsolete and morally unbearable.
However, transautomatism and those who think even beyond
uninhabitable architecture are more humane in their treatment of predecessors:
they want no more destruction. In order to rescue functional architecture from
its moral ruin – in order to revive it – a decomposing solution should be
poured over all those buildings, allowing the mould to settle.
The time has come for industry to recognize it basic mission: to
pursue creative mouldiness! It is now task of industry to evoke in
engineers and directors a moral feeling of responsibility for mouldiness and
critical decay should be the very basis of the principles of
The technicians and scholars capable of living in mould and
producing mould creatively will be tomorrows aristocracy. And only after the
acceptance of creative mouldiness – from which we have a great deal to learn –
will a new and wonderful architecture arise.
Todays architecture is criminally sterile. Unfortunately, the
building process ceases at the very moment when man takes up residence in his
domicile; ideally the building process should begin only when man
Modern architecture scandalously robs US of our humanity by its
disgraceful dictates. WE are legally restrained from making any change or
additions to facades, designs, or interiors, either in color, structure or
masonry. Even tenant-owned buildings are subject to censorship (by
the Board of Works and Lease statutes). Such regulations are characteristic of
prisons, cages, and tables – all ready-made, a priori structures, for which
construction is completely halted prior to prisoner or animal habitation,
assuring total alienation between inhabitant and structure. This situation is
not altered by the fact that the inhabitant is free to leave his domicile and
move around through his city or village.
True architecture derives only form natural construction, which is
organic development of a shell around a group of people. Such a construction is
like the growth of child to man.
The absolute finite (drawing of a line beneath…) ill building
construction is tolerable, if at all, only in monuments and uninhabited
architecture. If a structure is intended to house people, the discontinuation
of construction prior to habitation must be seen as an unnatural sterilization
of the growing process and as such should be punished as criminal
The architect as we know him today, if he is at all capable of
doing so must be allowed to construct only monumental architecture; habitable
architecture is not within his range and must be forbidden him. Society does
not allow a notorious poisoner or an anarchist to pursue his desires freely,
and the same restraints should be imposed upon architects.
Architectural pre-planning of homes is currently highly praised,
but is actually little more than planned mass murder by pre-mediated
To walk through a European town (especially through a recently
constructed sector) is to prove this shocking accusation.
There is, however, some exemplary, healthy contemporary
architecture Unfortunately, shamefully little:
Gaudi in barcelona certain Jugenstil constructions the Watts
Towers by Simon Rodia, near Los Angeles The slum sections of all urban centers
(the so-called urban blemish) Le Palais du Facteur Cheval in the Departement de
la Drome, France Peasant and/or primitive homes, whenever still
The architects only function should be that of technical advisor,
i.e., answering certain questions regarding materials, stability, etc. The
architect should be subordinate to the inhabitant, (tenant, owner, lodger) or
at least to the inhabiatants wishes. All tenants must create their own
“outer skis – they must be free to determine that shell of their domicile
which faces the street.
Friedrich Hundertwasser Translated and edited by Renate Littek and
The Paradise Destroyed by the Straight Line
An ecologist without a conscience is doomed to failure, and the
same is true of an srtist who does not bow to the laws of nature.
The world has not improved. The dangers felt have turned into
Nevertheless, today, although nothing has been done, my
longstanding warnings are at last being taken seriously.
Yet there are still no lawns on the roofs, no tree-tenants, no
plant-driven water purification plants, no humus toilets, no rights to windows,
no duties to the trees. The essential reforestation of the town has not come
What we lack is a peace treaty with nature.
We must restore to nature the territories we have unlawfully taken
from it. Everything horizontal under the sky belongs to nature. Everything
touched by the rays of the sun, everywhere where the rain falls is natures
sacred and inviolable property. We men are merely natures guests.
In 1952 I spoke of the civilization of make believe, the one we
must shake off, myself, the first of all! I spoke of columns of gray men on the
march toward sterility and self destruction.
The same year I used the term transautomation to show the way
beyond the rationalism of technocrats toward a new creation in harmony with the
laws of nature.
In 1953 I realized that the straight line leads to the downfall of
But the straight line is something cowardly drawn with a rule,
without thought or feeling; it is a line which does not exist in
And that the line is the rotten foundation of our doomed
Even if there are certain places where it is recognized that this
line is rapidly leading to perdition, its course continues to be
The straight line is the only sterile line, the only line which
does not suit man as the image of God.
The straight line is the forbidden fruit.
The straight line is the curse of our civilization.
Any design undertaken with the straight line will be stillborn.
Today we are witnessing the triumph of rationalist knowhow and yet, at the same
time, we find orselves confronted with emptiness. An aesthetic void, desert of
tmiformity, criminal sterility, loss of creative power.
Even creativity is prefabricated.
We have become impotent. We are no longer able to create. That is
our real illiteracy.