In 1968 Wolf D. Prix and Helmut Swiczinsky, architects and designers, founded Coop Himmelb(l)au in Vienna. The projects currently being carried out by Coop Himmelb(l)au are stand-out examples of Deconstructivist architecture. From the outset of their careers, Wolf D. Prix and Helmut Swiczinsky have striven to subvert Modernist architecture, design, and art in all their joint undertakings.
In 1973 Coop Himmelb(l)au astonished the London public with their "House with a Flying Roof", which was a blend of architectural project and witty art Happening since the roof of the house was lifted into the air by a huge balloon. In 1988 the works of Coop Himmelb(l)lau featured in the exhibition "Deconstructive Architecture" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As furniture designers, too, Helmut Swiczinsky and Wolf D. Prix pursue an proactive policy of deconstructing and rebuilding Modernist forms.
In 1989 they designed the "Vodöl" for Vitra, a Deconstructivist interpretation of the "Grand Confort" armchair designed in 1928 by Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, and Jean Jeanneret.
The most important architectural projects realised by Coop Himmelb(l)au the East Pavilion of the Groningen Museum (1993-94), the Great Egyptian Museum in Cairo (2002-03), das Akron Art Museum in Ohio (2001-06), the large extension they have built on to the Art Academy in Munich (2005), and the Musée des Confluences in Lyon (2001-08), which is designed to look like a frozen crystalline cloud of glass and steel.
Between 1994-98 Coop Himmelb(l)au realised the SEG residential tower, a 60-meter-high structure in Vienna. In 2005 Coop Himmelb(l)au was commissioned to build the European Central Bank in Frankfurt am Main (scheduled for completion in 2011). A second Munich project currently engaged in by Coop Himmelb(l)au is "BMW Welt" after plans by Wolf D. Prix and Helmut Swiczinsky, with a sculptural roof detached from the architectural substructure that seems to hover in the air above it (completion in 2007).
Born in Poznan, Poland, in 1944, Helmut Swiczinsky grew up in Vienna and studied architecture at the Technische Universität in Vienna and the Architectural Association in London. Helmut Swiczinsky was a visiting professor at the Architectural Association in 1973. Helmut Swiczinsky is a life member of the Vienna-based European Academy of Sciences and Arts.
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