A godly mess: Hundertwasser’s Grüne Zitadelle, Magdeburg

How an architect who encouraged mold growths defied Magdeburg’s post-war concrete jungle with his pink-colored Green Citadel

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“The straight line is ungodly,” said the Austrian artist who named himself Tausendsassa Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser, which translates to ‘Multi-Talented Peace-Filled Rainy Day Dark-Colored Hundred Waters’ in German. After making a name for himself painting psychedelic artworks and delivering public speaking engagements naked, Hundertwasser turned to architecture, which he believed should be a radical human expression inspired by nature, devoid of linear forms and standardizations.

🎬 The Lives of Others

Titled ‘Das Leben der Anderen’ in German, this is a ridiculously tense drama about the Stasi — the German Democratic Republic’s secret police — and how they spied on East Germans. It’s a good insight into why the Stasi are often cited as a cause of German people’s cautious privacy.

January 16th 1945. Much of the German city of Magdeburg gets torn to shit by RAF bombings. As World War II gives way to the Cold War and Germany splits in half, both sides of the schism scramble to rehouse all those whose homes were destroyed. This is where ‘Plattenbau’ comes in, from the German for ‘panel building’. This form of architecture was cheap and quick, and very Soviet, largely comprising prefabricated concrete slabs. Magdeburg, like many bombed cities, is revived as a gray concrete jungle.

The Cold War stagnates and David Hasselhoff single-handedly tears down the Berlin Wall. Hundertwasser runs into Magdeburg, sees all the straight concrete lines, screams, and builds a huge pink mess covered in wavy lines.

This is the Grüne Zitadelle — ‘Green Citadel’. It’s blindingly pink, of course, but the name comes from the lush gardens covering the building’s roof. The undulating walls are also dotted with plant life. Hundertwasser was so obsessed with marrying nature and architecture, he encouraged mold growths in each rooms.

I snapped two 360º photos on my phone — one from within the Green Citadel’s courtyard (stretched out above) and one from the adjacent Domplatz/Cathedral Square (stretched out below — the Grüne Zitadelle is, like a certain political party in Germany’s past, on the far right). You can swipe around both, too:

Hundertwasser’s zany structure was completed in 2005 after two years of construction.

There’s a mold-free café on site if you’re looking for somewhere to eat.

I recommend not looking up where the Citadel is. Just sort of let yourself discover it. When you do, it’ll be like seeing me in a nightclub: you’ll think to yourself, “what’s that doing here?”

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