The artist F Hundertwasser and architect J Krawina constructed a treed building in Vienna in 1985. It is public housing. That is not to say it is economic in normal terms.
Hundertwasser advocated for apartment building that were highly individualized on the exteriors. Sometimes this took the form of a regular exterior with a unique exterior painting around each window; in the Vienna case there is a limited set of window variations but each apartment is coloured differently so from the ground one can point and say “that is my house”. There are 52 apartments and 16 private balconies (and 3 shared balconies). Exterior columns supporting balconies are highly stylized.
The Vienna building has approx. 250 trees and shrubs on balcony planters and on the roof. They appeared to be in moderate good health when I took these pic in 2013. Regrettably I have misplaced my Hundertwasser book(s) and cannot provide more details of the design. It is fascinating on numerous grounds, but for this article series we will look mostly at the portions of treed exterior.
A significant number of the trees are growing from the sidewalk arcade/terrace or from the roof deck. While there are some growing from balconies mid way up the building, balconies had large shrubs instead of trees, and there was extensive ivy plantings on the exterior façade to give greenery without trees.
Here, I was joined in building watching by Sir Paul McCartney, but he didn’t say much. Prince Charles might have been more vocal.
To highlight the difference between traditional Viennese residential architecture and his designs, Hundertwasser included a small section of traditional styling that looks like it is peeling off the façade.
I simply cannot imagine Ottawa’s planners liking a building like this, if only because it would distract motorists from their high speed commute out of the city, and thus be “dangerous”. ** And from what I have seen, the architectural design review committee is solidly wedded to international contemporary architecture.
Unless, of course, it was a highly subsidized art project, like Hundertwasser-Krawina Haus.
this is article 4 in a series on treed buildings.
** in a real world case scenario, the city kyboshed red painted light poles at the Bronson-Somerset intersection in the heart of Chinatown because matching the other red painted light poles along the street would distract motorists. Really. Seriously. Red painted posts would be introducing too much red into traffic light line of sight. Our traffic group has indicated that the use of red mast arms unnecessarily adds confusion by reducing the contrast to the red stop lights. Mind you, they aren’t bothered by the great big yellow panel they put around every light fixture reducing the contrast to the yellow light phase.