Coop Himmelb(l)au | Helmut Swiczinsky & Wolf D. Prix

Architekturpreis: Wolf D. Prix+H. Swiczinsky©COOP

Prize winner

Coop Himmelb(l)au is a mental state of emergency, having lasted over twenty years. It it is the attempt to pull away the rug beneath the feet so that at least the head can pass through the wall. What was once Coop Himmelb(l)au’s provocative aesthetic has today become an internationally recognized paradigmatic architecture. What for modernism was once the collage, Coop Himmelb(l)aus have turned into a crash. Their aesthetic of the accidental constitutes the built reaction time; they cultivate the shock of the impact up to the last detail. For this reason, Coop Himmelb(l)au’s buildings can be termed quite unmetaphorically as urban sound-boxes. They reflect and amplify the enormous overlay effects of large cities. Quite different from many of their “deconstructivist” comrade-at-arms, they are practitioners without theoretical concept. Jacques Derrida’s writings, for example, Prix and Swiczinsky have only heard of second hand. For them, their built abstractions come into existence out of their unperturbed conception. They were the first to liberate architecture from the technical and formal constraints of history. Although they have found comrades-at-arms and imitators all over the world, they are still the best of their kind by miles.

Michael Mönninger