Coop Himmelb(l)au

Open House, 1983-1992

An icon of deconstructivist architecture, the Open House project appeared in 1984 on the cover of the catalog entitled Architecture is Now (Rizzoli). The Open House demonstrates the concept of “open architecture” proposed by Coop Himmelb(l)au: “Open architecture does not mean that the house has no windows, doors or that it is transparent. For us, open architecture means an open mind.” Reconnecting with the automatic writing of the surrealists, the house grew out of a sketch done with closed eyes (called a “psychogram”): a spontaneous process in which the hand, functioning like a seismograph, records and transcribes the strong feelings and emotions that the future building must rekindle. To build, therefore, consists of retaining the energy of the original sketch. Façades and sections, interior and exterior are imagined at the same time and are superposed, like x-ray views. The different models provide an approach to the rationalization of form and take into account the practical aspects of the project. The forms of this house, with a floor area of 100 m², seem to be distorted and assembled in unexpected and singular configurations: the walls are broken in a contrapuntal manner and the roof is a flying mass open to the sky, like a form inflated by the wind. This asymmetrical house is accessed from the back, via a staircase that pierces its underside. The weakening of the limits between interior and exterior, this impression of being unfinished, its spatial complexity make this a living, almost moving house.

Nadine Labedade

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