Born in Vienna, Austria, circa 1935, Pritzker Prize laureate Hans Hollein was a significant figure of postmodern architecture, to be precise, was an architect, designer, and professor. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 1956. He later attended the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1959 and the University of California, Berkeley in 1960, from where he graduated with a Master in Architecture. He once said that his stay in America had a “profound effect” on him. 

Hollein had an interest in utopian architecture and highlighted his ideas in an exhibition held at Galerie nächst St. Stephan. In his initial days, he worked on small projects, amongst which the Retti candle shop in Vienna brought him international fame—for which he was also awarded the Reynolds Memorial Award. As a professor, he has also worked at prestigious institutes like Washington University and Yale School of Architecture as a guest/visiting professor.

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Interesting site layout of the

In 1980, he designed the stage for Arthur Schnitzler’s drama production at Burgtheater in Vienna. He started designing large-scale projects, including bank headquarters in the late ’90s. He died at the age of 80 thanks to prolonged illness. 

Some of his notable works include the Abteiberg Museum, Haas House, an underground Guggenheim Museum in Salzburg, etc. He was an art-minded architect. His design philosophies were derived from the idea that “one must avoid narrow and easily defendable positions to achieve the original and quality design.” He would rather encourage the exploration of the design elements in other ways than just architecture.

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Interesting and interactive

“We must liberate architecture from building.” — Hans Hollein

Hollein has worked totally on museums/cultural buildings, public buildings, office/commercial buildings, and shops. He’s also taken part in many competitions, has written some great pieces, and designed furniture and objects. His project Museum für Moderne Kunst, popular because of its triangular shape, is famously called “piece of cake” fascinated me the most.

It was founded in 1981 with an idea to set up a museum for modern art in Frankfurt, Germany, which later in 1983, Hollein won through competition. Hollein designed it so that the three-sided space, large rooms are at the narrow end and are wedge-shaped, giving a large space for exhibition, approximately around 3500 square meters.

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Well lit spaces through

Museum für Moderne Kunst is a famous modern art museum composed of 3 different venues named MMK 1, 2, and 3. Only the first one was designed by Hollein. The second one, MMK 2, opened in 2014, within a high-rise building Taunus Turn, whereas MMK 3 opened in front of MMK1 in 2007. The museum’s core is the legacy of German collector Karl Ströher with works of Pop Art and minimalism. It is said that Ströher bequeathed his native town only on one condition that a museum would be built to house the 87 works. The museum eventually opened in 1991.

The most defining factor of the project was its triangular site. The symmetry of the site and the building is overlaid by a diagonally asymmetrical path through the building. The structure is divided into three levels to make it look adaptable to the surrounding areas. The three levels are used for exhibition purposes; meanwhile, for administration, there is a separate mezzanine area which is located above the entrance area. 

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The structure blends well with the urban fabric of the

The entire museum area beneath it has a basement. It also houses workshop areas, depots, and a lecture hall. On the top, space is provided for mechanical supports and also includes an Auditorium, a shop, and a restaurant.

The form of the rooms and their relation with each other makes the structure more appealing. There are approximately 40 rooms, and their different designs allow an interesting interplay between the exhibits and the architecture. The distribution of light with a central top-lit hall and top floor with skylights makes it more unique. The structure is accessible to people with disabilities. 

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Minimalistic interior

The exterior facade of the building is designed keeping in terms with the urban fabric of the place with the help of materials and design elements such as street arcades. For materials, Hollein stuck to the red sandstone and stucco, which suited both the economic factor and urban character of the city.

The museum actively organises temporary exhibitions, guided tours, workshops, special programs, and learning activities. The structure blends well with surrounding spaces which gives a very serene outlook in the urban outlook context, but at the same time stands out because of its strikingly sharp triangular form. The interior of the structure is kept minimalistic yet creates an interesting layout. 

Sharp striking structure which makes it stand

Despite being a public building, it brings out a feeling of warmth and connectivity. The planning is kept simple and interactive, which makes the structure more user-friendly. The museum suits well with the climatic conditions of the place, which is a necessity for the sustainability of the building.


  1.  Hollein. Museum für Moderne Kunst  [online]. Available at: [Accessed 2 July 2021].
  2. Wikipedia. Museum für Moderne Kunst [online]. Available at: [Accessed 3 July 2021].
  3. inexhibit. Museum für Moderne Kunst|Frankfurt  [online]. Available at: [Accessed 3 July 2021].
  4. sothebys. Museum für Moderne Kunst [online]. Available at: [Accessed 3 July 2021].

Ashruti Singh is an Architect based in Lucknow with a passion for reading, writing, and research. She loves exploring and reading about Interactive urban design and Sustainable alternative materials. She is strong-headed and soft-hearted, who believes in expressing emotions through her work.

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