Spittelau—Hundertwasser at home

Back in July 2012, I wrote about this building, the Maishima waste incineration plant in Osaka, Japan, designed by Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser:

Maishima waste incineration plant, Osaka

In June of this year, I was in Vienna for a conference. One afternoon when I had some free time, I took the underground to Spittelau, a suburb on the banks of the Donaukanal.

Döblinger Steg, a pedestrian bridge over the Donaukanal, linking the suburbs of Döbling and Brigittenau

My destination was the Spittelau waste incineration plant, the exterior of which was designed by Hundertwasser in the late 1980s.

Müllverbrennungsanlage Spittelau, Vienna, Austria


The facility, owned and operated by Wien Energie, turns municipal waste into heat and electricity for the city.

Vienna district heating office building, Spittelau

This was the building that inspired the mayor of Osaka to invite Hundertwasser to design the new waste incineration and sewage treatment plants in Maishima.

Spittelau façade 1

The building in Vienna has many motifs in common with its younger sibling in Osaka. For example, the chimney disguised in the style of a minaret, the irregularly-placed windows, the use of child-like blobs of primary colour and the trees and plants on the roof.

Spittelau façade 2

However, I felt somewhat disappointed. Unlike the Japanese building, designed from scratch by Hundertwasser, in this case the whimsical design features had seemingly been added on to the façade of an existing industrial structure. The result is surprisingly drab by comparison.

The setting is also quite different: while the Japanese building stands proudly on a brand-new artificial island in a bay spanned by modern bridges, its elder sister in Vienna is hemmed in by urban clutter and traffic.

Vienna district heating office building, Spittelau

It didn’t help that renovation works are currently underway, attended by Portakabins and construction materials and machinery.

“We’re renovating the Spittelau thermal waste treatment plant for you”


Maybe next time I have some free time in Vienna, I’ll visit the Schönbrunn Palace instead!


One thought on “Spittelau—Hundertwasser at home

  1. Interesting.


    Hundertwasser at home might be an appropriate caption for Athlone this week.


    There's a lot to be said for the architect adding his own graffiti and preempting any later attempts to embellish the building.





    PJ Connolly's latest novel, Children of Isaac, is the story of an ordinary Dublin family set against the turbulent background of the 1916 Rising in Ireland. E-book version available on Amazon.



    Sent: Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 7:18 PM

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