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Helmut Swiczinsky

Helmut Swiczinsky

*  1944 Poznan

Born in Poznan, Poland in 1944, Helmut Swiczinsky grew up in Vienna, where he studied architecture at the Technische Universität before continuing his studies at the Architectural Association in London. In 1968 Helmut Swiczinsky and Wolf D. Prix founded Coop Himmelb(l)au in Vienna. From the outset, this radical partnership has subverted Modernism in the fields of architecture, design, and art. The projects Coop Himmelb(l)au is currently engaged in are stunning examples of Deconstructivist architecture. The earliest Coop Himmelb(l)au designs were for pneumatic spatial constructions. Coop Himmelb(l)au made a hit in London in 1973 with "House with a Flying Roof", whose roof was lifted into the sky by a giant balloon, a felicitous blend of architecture and Happening. The deconstructed and redefined "open architecture" Coop Himmelb(l)au was producing in the 1980s made Swiczinsky and Prix the leading exponents of Deconstructivist building. Coop Himmelb(l)lau also took part in the 1988 exhibition "Deconstructive Architecture" mounted by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Nor has Coop Himmelb(l)au neglected to become involved in furniture design. For Vitra, Wolf D. Prix and Helmut Swiczinsky designed the "Vodöl" armchair in 1989; its deconstructed frame and the oblique forms of the upholstery represent a Deconstructivist take on the celebrated "Grand Confort" armchair designed in 1928 by Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, and Jean Jeanneret. Some of the most important buildings by Coop Himmelb(l)au are the East Pavilion of the Groningen Museum (1993/94), the Great Egyptian Museum in Cairo (2002/03), and the Akron Art Museum in Ohio (2001-2006). In Vienna, Wolf D. Prix and Helmut Swiczinky designed the 60-meter-high SEG residential tower (1994-1998). In 2005 Coop Himmelb(l)au started work on a spectacular extension of the Munich Art Academy. The Coop Himmelb(l)au Musée des Confluences in Lyon (scheduled for completion in 2008) is like a congealed crystalline cloud of glass and steel. Another excitingly cloud-like Coop Himmelb(l)au structure is the sculptural roof of "BMW Welt" in Munich (scheduled for completion in 2007), which is formally detached from its substructure so that it appears to hover over it. In 2005 Coop Himmelb(l)au was commissioned to build the European Central Bank in Frankfurt am Main, which is to be finished by 2011. In 1973 Helmut Swiczinsky was a visiting professor at the Architectural Association. Helmut Swiczinsky is a permanent member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, which is based in Vienna.