Mr. Prix, in 1980, you penned your famous text “Architecture Must Blaze”, writing: “It must be precipitous, brutal, tender, obscene, sexy and heart-stopping.” Now, 35 years later, you have completed a skyscraper for the ECB in Frankfurt. What makes this building sexy?
The text was a statement calling for more emotion in architecture at the time. It doesn’t describe a building.
The new ECB headquarters is a lofty, deconstructivist glass and steel tower, which stands next to Martin Elsaesser’s Grossmarkthalle from 1928. It is primarily a high security structure. Can such a building relate at all architecturally to the city in which it stands?
The ECB building is complex, and as such is a symbol for the complex European community. The tower stands in a visual relationship with Frankfurt: it is visible from many points in the city, and vice versa. The view from the large atrium we positioned in the middle of the tower is always directed towards the centre of Frankfurt.
Which of Frankfurt’s other towers do you like the best?
Christoph Mäckler is a good friend of mine, so I opt for his OpernTurm. In general I find it fascinating, and rightly so, that Germany has a city that not only allows skyscrapers, but also insists on them.
Wolf D. Prix (*1942 in Vienna) co-founded the Baucooperative Himmelblau together with Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer. Holzer left the company in 1971 and Swiczinsky in 2001, making Prix the sole design principal of what is known today as Coop Himmelb(l)au. Prix studied at the Technical University in Vienna, the Architectural Association in London and the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles.
About the Exhibition:
On the occasion of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s 47th birthday and until August 23, 2015, the German Architecture Museum (DAM) presents three of the studio’s recent projects: the European Central Bank Headquarters in Frankfurt (Germany), which was inaugurated on March 18, 2015, the Musée des Confluences in Lyon (France), which opened in December 2014 and the Dalian International Conference Center (China ) from 2012.
Mäckler’s natural stone facades grow out of the buildings along the perimeter block, but the entrance to your twisting glass towers cuts through the historically listed Grossmarkthalle. It could be said that these two high-rises are architectural antipodes or opposites. When and how did you become friends with Christoph Mäckler?
We have always been friends. I have always maintained solidarity with quality. I was also very close to Hans Hollein, who, especially in his later years, did not particularly represent my notion of architecture. But this did not affect our friendship.
In your opinion, which skyscrapers deserve to be demolished?
I am against blowing up my colleagues. I