Who does not know them, the beautiful buildings of Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The Green Citadel Magdeburg is the last project he worked on before his death.
It is only a few steps from the Domplatz to the Green Citadel. This is exactly where the Nikolai Church stood until 1959. For a few years, the site was an unattractive wasteland in the middle of the city until 1970, when a prefabricated building with flats was erected there. The building must not have been particularly beautiful, because the chairman of the housing cooperative of the city of Magdeburg in 1954 simply decided to ask Hundertwasser in 1995 if he would like to redesign the prefabricated building in his style.
Hundertwasser seemed to have an appetite for it and agreed to the project. Later it was decided that a new building would allow greater design freedom. He had worked on the project until shortly before his death in 2000. The architects Peter Pelikan (design) and Heinz M. Springmann (execution) later implemented the planning. In December 2003, three years after his death, Hundertwasser’s dream became reality and the first sod was turned. After two years of construction, Magdeburg had one more attraction in the city.
Why is the Green Citadel Magdeburg pink and not green?
The first thought when I was looking at the Green Citadel Magdeburg – it is pink and not green. So why isn’t it called the Pink Citadel?
The second part of the name “Citadel” is quickly explained. Magdeburg was once a fortified city. If you look at the building a little more closely, you will notice comparable building elements such as towers, battlements and columns. These are admittedly not as “stiff and static-looking” as in a citadel built for protection. With Hundertwasser, it is soft curved forms that are his trademark.
The colour of the citadel was originally intended to be blue (presumably in reference to the Elbe in the city). However, since the adjacent building is already a shade of blue, a striking contrast was sought and pink was chosen for the façade design.
The term “green” refers to the numerous trees and shrubs that not only shape the grassy rooftops of the Citadel. You can even find trees on the balconies of the flats, for which the tenant is responsible.
Tour around the house
You can easily walk around the Green Citadel Magdeburg and also through the two inner courtyards.
On the ground floor and in the inner courtyards are restaurants, shops, information about the building, the entrance to a theatre, the hotel entrance and the “FriedensReich” daycare centre. The floors above are occupied by flats, offices and practices.
If you look at the façade of the building, you will notice that the colour is quite faded. This is a deliberately chosen design element. The process of ageing of the building is to be represented in this way. The entire building consists of harmoniously coordinated lines that convey a “soft” image. There are no hard lines, just as there are no hard lines and edges in nature.
The window design of the Green Citadel Magdeburg is something very special. No two windows are alike. Often there are different shapes or sizes, sometimes just small details like different window handles. The tenants are not allowed to make any changes to the windows, but they do have the so-called window right. This allows them to design the façade around their window as far as their arm and brush can reach. So far, however, only one window has been decorated with a mosaic by the tenant.
The “ribbons”, which can be recognised as a visual design in the façade, are something special. These are all made of reused material that has been gathered from the surrounding area.
The columns, which make an impressive visual impact on the entire building, are all designed differently. Whether shape or pattern arrangement, you will not discover two identical columns here.
If you walk through the inner courtyards, you will notice that even the design of the floor follows Hundertwasser’s ideas. Everything is curved and round, there are no corners and edges. Even the fountain fits wonderfully into this harmony.
A tip: The visitors’ toilet in one of the passages to the inner courtyard is also styled in the Hundertwasser style. A “visit” is worthwhile.
Those who take part in a guided tour will first walk around the building and learn a lot about Hundertwasser, the construction and the exterior design. I found it very exciting and there were quite a few things to see that I wouldn’t have noticed on my own.
Afterwards, the tour goes to and up the Green Citadel Magedburg. During the tour there are about 600 steps to climb. There is no lift available!
First, the path leads up to one of the building’s roofs. Up there are two of the huge gilded spheres that you see glittering in the sun from other places in the city. The roof is green and offers a beautiful view of the city.
After the path leads back to street level, you climb the stairs again at another point in the building, with the aim of discovering a dreamlike roof garden. There is even the possibility to sit in a garden pavilion. Trees grow everywhere and when we were there, a gardener was busy mowing the lawn.
This area of the roof leads to a flat in the Green Citadel. This maisonette is used for events and unfortunately the floor plan no longer corresponds to the original planning. Nevertheless, there are still some details to discover that make Hundertwasser’s buildings so unique.
Breiter Weg 8/10
November – March:
Monday-Friday: 11am, 1pm, 3pm
Saturday, Sunday: 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm
April – October:
Monday-Friday: 11 am, 1 pm, 3 p., 5 pm
Saturday, Sunday: 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm
House tour with tower
Discounts are offered.