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See Inside February/March 2007

No Place Like Home

What makes a house feel like home? Psychological research offers insight into what people want and need for happy living

Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, or Peace-Kingdom Hundred-Water, as his name translates, was anything but conventional. Known for bright colors, curved lines and organic forms--as well as performances in the nude--his work often generated controversy. A low-income housing block of his design in Vienna is no exception: the Hundertwasser Haus, planned in 1977, features undulating floors, a grass- and soil-covered roof and huge trees growing inside rooms, their branches reaching out from the windows. Hundertwasser refused payment for the complex, explaining that he wished merely to prevent something ugly from going up in its place.

Throughout his lifetime Hundertwasser preached regularly against conformity in domestic architecture. In 1958 he famously declared his Mould Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture, stating that a person in a rented apartment must have the freedom to lean out of his window and transform the building's exterior within arm's reach. And he must be allowed to take a long brush and paint everything so that, from far away, everyone can see: There lives a man who distinguishes himself from his neighbors!

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