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Coop Himmelb(l)au (est. 1968) is a cooperative architectural design firm primarily located in Vienna, Austria and which now also maintains offices in Los Angeles, United States and Guadalajara, Mexico.
In German, coop has a similar meaning to the English "co-op". In German Himmel means sky or heaven, and blau means "blue" while bau means "building" or "to build/construct". So, the name can be interpreted as "Blue Sky Cooperative" or "Heaven Building/Construction Cooperative"
Coop Himmelblau was founded by Wolf Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer and gained international acclaim alongside Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry with the 1988 exhibition, "Deconstructivist Architecture" at the Museum of Modern Art. Their work ranges from commercial buildings to residential projects.
The office has been trying to change the usual design paradigm since its foundation. The office tries to develop a radical design truth a realistic approach. Their Ideal is to work with complex shapes coming out of a complex process in which the architects mix different mediums such as models, 3-d modeling, parametric tools, sketches and drawings in order to create an unexpected design. The philosophy of the office can be summarised with their 1980s manifesto "Architecture must burn":
- "We want architecture that has more to offer. Architecture that bleeds, exhausts, that turns and even breaks, as far as I am concerned. Architecture that glows, that stabs, that tears and rips when stretched. Architecture must be precipitous, fiery, smooth, hard, angular, brutal, round, tender, colourful, obscene, randy, dreamy, en-nearing, distancing, wet, dry and heart-stopping. Dead or alive. If it is cold, then cold as a block of ice. If it is hot, then as hot as a tongue of flame. Architecture must burn!"
- Rooftop Remodeling Falkestrasse, Vienna, Austria (1983-88)
- Academy of Fine Arts Munich (1992/2002-05)
- UFA-Cinema Center in Dresden (1993–98)
- Groninger Museum, Groningen, Netherlands (1993–94)
- The Media Pavilion at the 6th International Architecture Exhibition, Biennale di Venezia (1995)
- Gasometer, Vienna, Austria (1999-2001)
- Arteplage in Biel/Bienne from Swiss Expo.02
- BMW World (BMW Welt) Munich, Germany (2001–07)
- Akron Art Museum addition (2007)
- High School for the Visual and Performing Arts with HMC Architects (Los Angeles Area High School #9, California, USA) (2002–08)
- Busan Cinema Center, Busan, South Korea (2008–2011)
- The European Central Bank in Frankfurt (Under construction)
- Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France (Under construction)
- House of Music in Aalborg, Denmark (Under construction)
- Hotel - 55th Street & 8th Avenue, New York City (proposed)
- 2008 RIBA European Award for BMW World
- American Architecture Awards 2005
- Annie Spink Award for excellence in architectural education, RIBA, London, UK, 2004
- Gold Medal for merits to the federal state of Vienna, Austria 2002
- Official site
- Online profile of Coop Himmelb(l)au
- Interview with Wolf Prix
- Universität Für Angewandte Kunst Wien
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