Digging and Piling Up


"Digging - Piling up - Forming" - during my first stay in America I postulated this as the basic tendencies of building.
The dialectic between these two processes of design and their blending into a further dimension of sculptural objects in space has been fundamental in the creation of architecture.
Tectonic building-up towards the sky, obliging to the rules of gravity and a-tectonic excavation developing freely in all directions - like a fish in the water - allow and generate very different developments of space in space.
To sense the figure inside the block of Carrara-marble and liberate it or to assemble elements into such a figure opens up very different creative options of sculptural definition - as well as architectural ones - not least also as a symbiosis of both.
Early human beings sought shelter by digging a depression into earth or by finding a cave. They protected themselves by an enclosure of twigs - the first manmade construction. Man expressed himself by erecting a (ritual) pole, a pile of rocks - or the Babylonian Tower.
The tendencies of piling-up led to the house, to the tower and further developed to cantilevering extensions and finally to the dynamism of the oblique.
The tendency of digging - to descend to the center of the world with its (::::::hier stand their::::) treasures - led to subterranean structures of communication.
A dualistic thinking - may be a Manichean aspect - which in its superimposition led to a complex strategy - also between use and uselessness.
Architecture is ritual.
Architecture is a means of protecting body-temperature.
Between these two poles through millenniums construction transformed into architecture.
Buildings become architecture by fulfilling not only the quantifiable but also the non-quantifiable.
This exhibition is dedicated to two important themes of building up and burrowing into the earth in the realm of my work - the tall building and subterranean public space, museums.
The high-rise - not only as result of density but also a signal and symbol - has occupied me since my study at IIT in Chicago, birthplace of the "skyscraper".
I circled around this topic in different ways - by means of sketches, designs, models, collages, projects and realizations.
Necessarily also dealing with the city, the future of our cities in which there will be a layer of structures hovering and extending above.
This cloud-like hovering extensions will have its dialectic counterpart in the limitless spatial extension and excavation into the earth, the rock, the lava stream - a non-tectonic, non-rectilinear space making - independent from gravity.
These are only two aspects of my work (topics having however a certain actuality in Vienna)set apart from the complex interchange of my architectural and artistic activity.

Hans Hollein

April 2003