It took just 2 years to construct Magdeburg’s Green Citadel (locally known as the Grüne Zitadelle von Magdeburg) that opened to the public on October 3, 2005. One cannot miss Friedensreich Hundertwassers’ “oasis for humanity and nature in a see of rational houses” on the city’s Breiten Weg road.
Hundertwasser was born in Vienna on the 15th of December 1928. The artist, who began his career as a painter, ventured into architecture already in the 1950s. He believed in the existence of a close relationship between architectural design and the wellbeing of those living within a building.
According to Friedensreich Hundertwasser, architecture is a human being’s ‘3rd skin’, and he believed that every human should be able to choose and configure it as they can fashion their 1st skin (natural skin) and their 2nd skin (clothing). Through his architectural projects and the “window right” and “tree obligation” concepts, he worked towards creating individual living spaces at one with nature. He considered the task of leading human beings back to the lost paradise central to an architect’s responsibility.
The idea for a Hundertwasser architectural project in Magdeburg stems from a housing cooperative’s initiative “City of Magdeburg in 1954”. The cooperative approached Hundertwasser to refurbish a prefabricated concrete ‘plattenbau’ high-rise back in 1998. The renovation project was abandoned in favour of a new construction. In 2002, GERO-AG embarked on the realisation of this project. With a ground-breaking ceremony in December 2003, Hundertwasser’s dream came true three years after his death. Hundertwasser had still been working on the plans for Magdeburg’s Green Citadel until shortly before he passed away on the 19th of February 2000. Since all plans were complete, the scale models and countless sketches were available, this architectural project could go ahead even without the artist. Hence, Magdeburg’s Green Citadel is the last building designed and realised by the Austrian artist.
In the Green Citadel, all of Hundertwasser’s architectural causes come together under one roof. Hence, in his “best and most beautiful work”, the golden globes that adorn the towers glow for miles around, “tree tenants” look out from “dancing windows”, the air is filled with the scent of wildflower meadows on the roofs and slopes, the undulating floors are “melodies for the feet” and guide visitors through the courtyards. Inside the building, individuals in search of their 3rd skin may find what they are looking for amongst the 55 individually designed apartments. Whether you are looking for a place to live or business premises, Magdeburg’s Green Citadel could be for you. It not only offers individual living spaces but space to experience. Attractive shop fronts, function rooms, a hotel, a theatre, offices, medical practices and a kindergarten are all under one very special roof.
Hundertwasser’s masterpiece renders paradise accessible to anyone – a paradise in which one can not only live, work, shop, admire and enjoy, but also celebrate, hold meetings and spend the night. You can find out more about this work and the artist behind it in guided tours and in the building’s manifesto.