Fotoeins Fotografie

photography as worlds between words
Green Citadel, Grüne Zitadelle, photo by Andreas Lander, Magdeburg Tourism MMKT, Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Magdeburg’s Hundertwasser landmark: the Green Citadel

“It’s so pink!”

“Yes, but by design, there’s a lot of green foliage integrated within and around the building.”

“But why is the building pink?”

“That colour irritates a few people, particularly some at the big bank next door and even some at state government offices nearby.”

Wouldn’t that be fitting for Hundertwasser, who declared straight lines as “godless” and called his final work “an oasis for humanity and nature in a sea of rational houses”?

In art and in architecture, there’s no mistaking an inevitable clash between what’s “fanciful” and what’s “functional”. Not only has this conflict always been around in some shape or form, it’s a sign there’s change, disruption, or rebellion against the staid of the contemporary. What’s also true is that what’s believed to be “common” has rarely been universal, by place or in time.


In the German “Otto city” of Magdeburg near the city’s Cathedral is an odd yet interesting building called the “Green Citadel” (Grüne Zitadelle), whose shape, colour, and form appear incompatible with the more conventional centuries-old architecture in nearby Cathedral Square. The Green Citadel was designed by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and “conventional” has rarely been used to describe Hundertwasser, his ideas, or his work. The Green Citadel was Hundertwasser’s final work before his death in 2000. Criticized initially for its overt discordance with “classical” architecture, the building took two years to build with completion in 2005 at an estimated cost of 27 million Euros.

Today, the building includes 55 apartments, shops, café, restaurants, and a hotel, a daycare centre and a community theatre. People live and work with the Green Citadel as their “third skin.” The clinical sharpness of straight lines are minimized, while soft curved surfaces dominate and undulate. No two pillars or doors appear the same. White “corrugated” domes are topped with shiny golden spheres. “Fensterrecht” or “the right of window” allows people within units to modify the space around the window in whatever manner is desired.

The Green Citadel is a soft whimsical touch to Magdeburg’s skyline, a visible testament that there’s more to the city’s millennium-long history, and that her people are ready to embrace a revised identity that isn’t bound to repressive one-party rule in the GDR/DDR. When I think of historical Magdeburg, it’s about the two Ottos and the Cathedral; when I consider modern Magdeburg, the pink curves by Hundertwasser is a key landmark.


Gruene Zitadelle, Green Citadel, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

From Breiter Weg. The central part of the building is occupied by artHotel Magdeburg.

Gruene Zitadelle, Green Citadel, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Plants integrated within and surrounding the building

Gruene Zitadelle, Green Citadel, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

No two pillars are the same

Gruene Zitadelle, Green Citadel, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Left: Papeterie Kaiser, pen-and-paper stationery shop; right: Hyaku Mizu, Japanese restaurant

Gruene Zitadelle, Green Citadel, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Left: Rosenstolz Floristik, right: Bioladen Mitte.

Gruene Zitadelle, Green Citadel, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Interior courtyard

Gruene Zitadelle, Green Citadel, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Minding the children, at the daycare

Gruene Zitadelle, Green Citadel, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

In the underground parking level are mosaics constructed by schoolchildren. This mosaic is for “hundred water” for Hundertwasser.

Gruene Zitadelle, Green Citadel, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com
The transliteration for “Magdeburg” (MD) becomes four Chinese characters: “馬格德堡” (Ma ge da bao), whose literal meaning for each character is “horse lattice virtue fortress.” For “DTL”, Deutschland (Germany) in traditional Chinese is represented as “德國” which means “nation of virtue.”
Gruene Zitadelle, Green Citadel, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Die Gemäldestube” wine bar

Gruene Zitadelle, Green Citadel, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Café’s alternate entrance (from Kreuzgangstrasse); residential units and daycare above the café

Green Citadel, Grüne Zitadelle, photo by Andreas Lander, Magdeburg Tourism MMKT, Hundertwasser, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Photo by Andreas Lander (MMKT).


Thanks to Magdeburg Marketing Kongress und Tourismus (MMKT) and Hotel One for their support and hospitality, and to Grüne Zitadelle and Herr H.-J. Wiegand for a guided tour of the building. The last image is by Andreas Lander, courtesy of the MMKT. I made the other photos on 1 December 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-7qv.

6 Responses to “Magdeburg’s Hundertwasser landmark: the Green Citadel”

    • fotoeins

      Hi, Cornelia. The Green Citadel is a delight to look and to walk through, but I didn’t have time to stop for a coffee in their café. I enjoyed learning more about Hundertwasser’s life and about how art and architecture were used as visual response. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and to comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. CrazyChineseFamily

    I wonder right now why I dont remember this building. I’ve been several times in Magdeburg and taking walks around there but this I have totally forgotten, how strange memory works sometimes

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Timo, there’s always another side to things, and this tells me that the next time you go back, you’ll be eyeing the area around Domplatz: for the Dom, the Kunstmuseum Kloster unser lieben Frauen, and Hundertwasser’s Green Citadel. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • fotoeins

      Hi, Katya. It’s definitely clear how Magdeburg can be easily reached from Berlin with train, car, or bus. If you spend an afternoon, an entire day, or more in Magdeburg, I’m sure you will find plenty to photograph, as I did, too. 🙂 Thanks for reading and for your comment!

      Like

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