Hans Hollein, a Pritzker Prize laureate, was an Austrian architect and designer who designed not only buildings but also furniture, and many other items like jewellery, glass, lamps, etc. Born in Vienna, Hans Hollein was also a theoretician. He had studied civil engineering in Vienna before graduating from the Academy of fine arts in 1956 in Vienna. He then pursued a degree in architecture and planning at Illinois institute of technology in the year 1960 and later accomplished masters in architecture at the University of California, Berkeley.
He set up his solo architectural studio in 1964. Before which he could work with Mies Vander Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, whose works he admired and looked up to. But, his perspective about modernism started changing, and he started moving away from it in the year 1963. Hans Hollein is recognized as a staunch believer and practitioner of postmodernism.
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He has worked on many small-scale projects like the Retti candle shop in Vienna, the jewellery store in Schullins, And museum projects like the Vulcania Museum, The Abteiberg Museum, The Museum of glass and ceramics in Tehran, and many other commercial and large scale projects.
Vulcania Museum by Hans Hollein is a classic example of post-modern architecture. This project was started in 1994 and was completed in 2002, long after postmodernism started fading away. This museum is located in France’s Auvergne region, a region with the largest volcanic area in Europe. Therefore, the building is located in a largely uninhabited area.
Vulcania Museum was initiated as an international competition entry. It caught Hans Hollein’s attention because, before this, no museum was dedicated to volcanoes alone.
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His approach was to generate an idea that could bind the project together and the landscape around it with old lava formations.
The Concept – “Descending To The Center Of The Earth”
For this project, Hans Hollein worked with a collage along with the detailed plans made usually. He was influenced by Dante’s inferno and Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the center of the earth’. He says that the collage focused on the main concept of making one feel like descending to the center of the Earth, which is why about three-fourths of the project is kept underground except for the mighty volcano resembling structure and the restaurant. He also designed the artificial crater into which people descend and rise out back to the ground at another spot.
Hollein says that by doing this, he not only focuses on the destruction caused by the volcano but also on the fact that it leaves behind very fertile soil as it steps back. This project, being a museum and a theme park for volcanoes, focuses on educating people about the volcanoes and allows them to experience and understand better these forces of nature and how our planet earth formed.
The complex is mostly planned underground; a ramp leads us to the emblematic Volcano structure, which is located at the heart of the complex. The form of the volcano is achieved by the cone-like structure that splits into two, revealing the golden interiors and the underground levels in a sneak-peak.
The complex comprises research facilities, Conference halls, IMAX theaters, restaurants, etc. We can see that this split relates to the facade of the jewellery store in Schullin – I, where he has created a crack in gold that shows both luxury and boldness.
The materials chosen here are of volcanic origin. This structure has a cladding done with dark volcanic stones, whose interiors have golden metal which is illuminated by light. The materials used here play a significant role in blending the structure with the surroundings and, at the same time, are a derivative obtained from volcanoes themselves. Here one of the intentions of the design was to appeal to five senses. To achieve this in the design, he has worked with sulfurous odours, the roaring sounds of an erupting volcano.
In the case of the Vulcania Museum, we can see the bold expression of postmodernism in terms of the design being kept majorly underground, allowing the visitors to explore the feel of descending into the center of the planet. The expression of postmodernism also stands clear in terms of the variety of materials used. This design stands out as one of the architect’s best and noted museum designs in the world for its approach and Interpretation.
e-flux journal #66 october 2015 Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation with Hans Hollein Available at: article_9002819.pdf (e-flux.com)
22-11-2002.Hans Hollein: Volcanology Centre in Clermont-Ferrand, France Available at: Hans Hollein: Volcanology Centre in ClermontFerrand France | Floornature
Available at: 320_Vulcania / France / Nations / Architecture / Home – HANS HOLLEIN.COM