Coop Himmelb(l)au

wolf_prix_portrait-coop-himmelblau.jpgWolf D. Prix. Photo © © Aleksandra Pawloff

By Eva Bjerring

Known as the punk rockers of architecture Coop Himmelb(l)au was founded in Vienna in 1968 by Wolf Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer. With the exhibition 'Wiener Supersommer' in 1976 they delivered an aggressive alternative to the usual urban architecture and stated their name as a provocative, mould-breaking studio not afraid to go beyond the scope of architecture.

Austrian Coop Himmelb(l)au was founded in 1968 by Wolf Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer. With the 1976 "Wiener Summer" exhibition Himmelb(l)au stated its name as a cross barrier and groundbreaking studio to take a different approach to architecture than 'the usual' and introduced themselves as frontrunners within deconstructivism.

The studio had its international breakthrough with a contribution to the exhibition "Deconstructivist Architecture" at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  in New York in 1986 alongside Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid  and Frank Gehry.

Michael Holzer left the team in 1971, and the office is now run by Wolf D. Prix, Wolfdieter Dreibholz, Harald Krieger, Karolin Schmidbaur and partners after the retirement of Helmut Swiczinsky in 2001.

The office works within the cross-field of architecture, urban planning, design, and art, and is known for highly provocative architecture pushing the limits of the well known. Most of the projects are found in Europe with additional projects in the US and recently increasing expansion around Asia.

Stated by co-founder, design principal and CEO, Wolf D. Prix (b. 1942), Coop Himmelb(l)au thinks of their architecture as part of the 21st century; as art which reflects and gives a mirror image of the variety and vivacity, tension and complexity of our cities.

More radically put the studio's 'Architecture must burn' manifesto from 1980, stated that:

We want architecture that has more to offer. Architecture that bleeds, exhausts, that turns and even breaks […] Architecture that glows, that stabs, that tears and rips when stretched. Architecture must be precipitous, fiery, smooth, hard, angular, brutal, round, tender, colourful, obscene, randy, dreamy, en-nearing, distancing, wet, dry and heart-stopping. Dead or alive. If it is cold, then cold as a block of ice. If it is hot, then as hot as a tongue of flame. Architecture must burn!

In 1988, a second studio was opened in Los Angeles, USA, and since then further project offices has opened in Frankfurt, Germany, Paris, France, Hong Kong, Beijing, China and Baku, Azerbaijani.

In 2010 the studio was awarded the MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Awards, the 2008 RIBA European Award, the American Architecture Award of 2005, the RIBA Annie Spink Award in 2004, Gold Medal for merits to the federal state of Vienna, Austria, in 2002 and the 2001 European Steel Design Award among others.

Coop Himmelb(l)au website

If you don't want to read your way through Coop Himmelb(l)au watch this small introduction by architect Doug Patt on YouTube.

January 04, 2016 /

Dalian International Conference Center
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Dalian, China

A multi-functional “small city within a city” with conference and event rooms for 7,000 visitors. A landmark for the prospering harbor city of Dalian.

March 17, 2014 /

European Central Bank
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Frankfurt am Main, Germany

In the middle of the European monetary crisis the new Headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au are getting ready for staff to move in.

September 24, 2012 /

Busan Cinema Center
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Busan, South Korea

The design for the Busan Cinema Center provides a new intersection between public space, cultural programs, entertainment, technology and architecture.

Confluence Project View metal with enscription
Photo courtesy Maya Lin Studio and Gagosian Gallery
April 02, 2012 /

Musée des Confluences
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Lyon, France

The Musée des Confluences is situated directly on the convergence of the river Rhone and the river Saone at the fringe of an industrial area about to be restructured in Lyon.

Martin Luther Church by Coop Himmelb(l)au in Hainburg, Austria
Photo: Duccio Malagamba
January 23, 2012 /

Martin Luther Church
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Hainburg, Austria

In less than a year a protestant church together with a sanctuary, a church hall and supplementary spaces was built in the center of the Lower Austrian town Hainburg, at the site of a predecessor church that has not existed since the 17th century.

Pavilion 21 MINI Opera Space by Coop Himmelb(l)au in Munich, Germany
Photo ©
November 23, 2009 /

Pavilion 21 MINI Opera Space
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Munich, Germany

The "Pavilion 21 MINI Opera Space" is a temporary mobile performance space for 300 visitors to be located on the Marstallplatz in the City of Munich. It is intended to be used for a wide range of events at the annual Opera Festival 2010 and then to travel to other locations.

Central Los Angeles Area High School #9 by Coop Himmelb(l)au in Los Angeles, California, USA
Photo © Coop Himmelb(l)au
June 02, 2008 /

Central Los Angeles Area High School #9
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Los Angeles, California, USA

High School #9, LAUSD's new flagship high school project with emphasis in the Visual and Performing Arts, is in direct vicinity of the downtown Los Angeles cultural corridor with Disney Concert Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

BMW Welt by Coop Himmelb(l)au in Munich, Germany
Photo © 2007 Ari Marcopoulos
November 12, 2007 /

BMW Welt
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Munich, Germany

The most prominent elements of the brand experience and automobile delivery center BMW Welt are the roof and the Double Cone.

House of Music by Coop Himmelb(l)au in Aalborg, Denmark
Photo © Coop Himmelb(l)au
September 08, 2003 /

House of Music
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Aalborg, Denmark

The different volumes and surfaces create an architectural expression suited to the multi-functional and synergetic nature of the building.

Akron Art Museum by Coop Himmelb(l)au in Akron, Ohio, USA
Photo © Roland Halbe
June 10, 2002 /

Akron Art Museum
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Akron, Ohio, USA

The concept of museums has changed radically since the miracle chamber ("Wunderkammer") of Rudolf II and Ferdinand II in the 16th century.

Photo: arcspace
Coop Himmelb(l)au - UFA Cinema Center - Exterior
October 22, 2001 /

UFA Cinema Center
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Dresden, Germany

The urban design concept of the UFA Cinema Center confronts the issue of public space, currently endangered in European cities. This situation is caused by the financial insolvency of city governments, which forces the sale of public space to developers, who then propose monofunctional buildings in order to maximize capital return.

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