Architect, Computer Design Fantastical Buildings

Event: Current Work: Coop Himmelb(l)au, Wolf D. Prix
Location: The Cooper Union, 11.20.08
Speakers: Wolf D. Prix, Hon. FAIA, FRIBA — Co-founder, Coop Himmelb(l)au
Moderator: Thom Mayne, FAIA — Principal, Morphosis
Organizers: The Architectural League of New York

BMW Delivery Center, Munich, Germany.

Image by Ari Marcopoulos; courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au

Practice is “not a color but an idea, of creating architecture with fantasy, as buoyant and variable as clouds,” reflected Wolf Prix, Hon. FAIA, FRIBA, of Coop Himmelb(l)au. During the last 40 years, the Vienna-based firm, founded by Prix with Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer, has tried to create an architecture with a “psychic” ground plan, not a physical one, characterized by walls that “no longer exist” and spaces that “are pulsating balloons.” With designs intended to expand the horizons of architecture and urbanism, Coop Himmelb(l)au’s projects are a result of the relationship between designers and computers. Prix explained, “During design development, we use modern technology as the main tool to create models, which are consequently dismantled and re-crafted with human energy [that then] projects back into the computer.”

Prix continued, “Coop Himmelb(l)au separates itself from other architecture firms because we don’t base our work on systems of measurement on the scale of human proportions. We create buildings from our fantasy that are often radically unconventional.” For the BMW Welt (BMW Delivery Center) in Munich, a glass-and-stainless steel structure has suspended bridges interconnecting components Prix calls “Forum, Tower, Double Cone, Lounge, Premiere, and Marina.” The design process involved re-crafting computer models over and over again to compensate for potential human fault. He described the building: “Our heartbeat becomes space; our face is the façade. Simply psychic.”