Atlas Obscura

Hundertwasser, the Architect Who Made Toilets and Treatment Plants Adorable

Maishima waste treatment plant in Osaka, Japan.

Photo: Hiromitsu Morimoto/Creative Commons

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world’s hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

In Osaka, Japan, is a waste treatment plant that is a lot more Looney Tunes than your average incineration facility. Its wavy lines, haphazardly placed, mismatched windows, and bursts of clashing color are all expressions of an overriding architectural philosophy: that human misery is the result of straight lines.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an Austrian-born artist-turned-architect. Born Friedrich Stowasser, he changed his name to Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser (translation: “Peace-Kingdom Rainy-Day Darkly-Multicolored Hundred-Water.”)

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Hundertwasser wrote a series of manifestos beginning in 1958, in which he reacted against what he believed to be the soul-stifling uniformity of Bauhaus architecture. Instead of rational, standardized designs, he advocated an approach that saw buildings as growing, changing structures that incorporate the natural features of the surrounding landscape. Many of his creations incorporate greenery, which grows alongside, on top of, and within the buildings.

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Hundertwasser’s residential, industrial, and commercial buildings—located in Austria, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and at a Napa Valley winery—are irregularly shaped creations with boldly colored tile mosaics, pottery, golden domes, undulating floors, and tilting walls. The Kawakawa public toilet building in New Zealand, built in 1998, was Hundertwasser’s last major project before his death in 2000.

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Visit Atlas Obsura for more on Hundertwasser’s architecture, including Waldspirale and the Hundertwasser toilets.

The Maishima waste treatment plant.

Photo: Hiromitsu Morimoto/Creative Commons

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Greenery bursts from the building at the Maishima treatment plant.

Photo: Hiromitsu Morimoto/Creative Commons

Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna.

Photo: Ludovic Hirlimann/Creative Commons

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Bad Blumau.

Photo: Enrico Carcasci/Creative Commons

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Bad Blumau.

Photo: Enrico Carcasci/Creative Commons

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Waldspiral, a 105-apartment residential building in Darmstadt, Germany.

Photo: Hans Splinter/Creative Commons

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The Hundertwasser public toilets in Kawakawa, New Zealand.

Photo: Eli Duke/Creative Commons

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