Haus-Rucker-Co : Thinking about New Ways to Approach the City
Whether as an answer to the lack of functionality or as a solution for the environmental crisis, architecture has often been seen, in utopian scenarios, as the key to change the state of the city, and, by extension, the state of the world. In the 70s, several groups of architects like Superstudio, Archizoom and Coop Himmelbau experimented in the theoretical field, imagining and planning all kinds of radical possibilities for the future city.
Founded in 1967 in Vienna by Laurids Ortner, Günter Zamp Kelp and Klaus Pinter and later joined by Manfred Ortner and Carol Michaels, Haus-Rucker-Co is probably the group that brought their project the closest to reality. By considering the human body as part of their work and by exploring the performative potential of architecture and design, they tried to re-engage citizens in the city life while giving good examples of how we can use space in imaginative ways.
Many of their projects like Oase No. 7 (1972) which was realized for Documenta 5 or Riesenbillard (1970), took the form of ephemeral inflatable structures aiming to re-inject quietness or playfulness in daily life. Projects like these gave spaces for new modes of interaction to take form between people and their environment, thus giving an inspiring glimpse of how we can appropriate city space.
Some of their well-known projects, mostly part of the Mind Expander series (1967-1969), were also conceived as prosthetic devices affecting the sensations of the viewers. They were designed to alter perceptions in order to propose new ways to approach and conceive the world around us.
Haus-Rucker-Co projects are still very interesting because they talk about this keen and old desire of artists and architects to induce more creativity into daily life. By engaging participation, they created space where alternatives mode of sociability could take form and criticized the monotone ways in which we often address reality.
Haus-Rucker-Co’s projects offer a place to flee from real life. Their architecture and design ideas put aside the formalist and rationalist considerations to make room for the unpredictable and the unsettling.
Together, the group created new spaces and suggested new ways to inhabit and take possession of the city. They also questioned more directly human experience by proposing an alteration of perceptions and this is probably where relies the most important lesson we should learn from them. Maybe before rethinking the world that surrounds us, we should start by rethinking ourselves in order to renew our conceptions and bring further our creativity.