Hans Hollein: Discussion with students (October 12, 1987)



Robert Mangurian introduces Hans Hollein for a discussion with students.

Hollein speaks about the possibilities available in small projects and the potential to make an architectural statement with a small scale and a small budget. He discusses Wolf Prix, Coop Himmelb(l)au, and the direction of architecture in Austria.

Hollein remarks that he does not feel an affinity to a specific heritage, but does see the influence of his life in Vienna and exposure to Otto Wagner and Josef Hoffmann as a student. Hollein describes a period of needing to leave Vienna, seeing the scene as too provincial, traveling to Sweden and to the United States. He describes the vastness of the landscape of the US and his fascination with movement, telling of a particular trip in which he traveled from coast to coast as quickly as possible in order to understand the immensity of the distance.

Hollein discusses his approach to architecture, touching on theory and intuition as equal parts in his overall approach, but varying in each project. He discusses his interest in teaching and cultivating the non-quantifiable elements of architecture.

Hollein then comments on the importance of creating things. He speaks about the issue of size and the relationship between something at the scale of an aircraft carrier versus something the scale of tea set. Hollein explains his use of collage to transform and transport between scales.

Hollein avoids projects like prisons, and competitions with an irresponsible brief. He discusses the difficulty in actually creating something that achieves the intended statement.

Returning to the subject of Vienna, Hollein argues that it is a creative city, but also a difficult place to practice architecture and the arts, citing the hostility of the climate. He sees an attitude that attempts to prevent the artist from creating, but at the same time, works as a generator through the necessity of resistance.

Hollein concludes this discussion, responding to additional questions about some of his projects. He discusses the conflict between museum design and the art displayed, stating that a museum to house contemporary art should itself be contemporary. Hollein suggests that there should not be limits on the architectural expression in order to highlight art works, and that both functional necessity and architectural value must be balanced.

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