How do you seamlessly unite the past with the present? Or the historical with the modern? And still not rub purists the wrong way. For that, you don’t need to look further than Haas Haas in Vienna.
I’m sure that would have crossed Hans Hollien’s mind, when he went about designing this masterpiece in 1987.
Walking through the historical part of Stephansplatz, you can’t help but notice Haas Haus building, or Haas House. It’s in stark contrast to the other buildings in its surroundings, including Vienna’s oldest architectural masterpieces – St Stephen’s cathedral, which is bang opposite this building.
The building that stands now is the third version. The original building was built in 1867 for Philipp Haas, a well-known industrialist. He commissioned August Siccard von Siccardsburg and Eduard van der Nüll – the very same architects instrumental in the design of the opera house in Vienna, to build it for him. Unfortunately, it didn’t survive the second World War.
The second version came up in 1952. However, because it didn’t quite gel with its historical setting, the Stephansplatz area, it was decided to demolish it once again and build one that was truly reflective of its surrounding.
That is exactly what Hans Hollien did when he designed the third version. Depending on where you’re standing, you can get to see various contours of the cathedral reflected on the mirror facade. Not that it was accepted by everyone. Many a critic had issues with several aspects of the building, besides the mirrors themselves. They also had issues with the shape of the building and even a little tower that faces the cathedral. The cathedral has, after all, history on its side. It has stood on these very grounds since the days when the Romans ruled the world that they knew. When the cathedral was renovated in the 14th century, it got itself a Gothic makeover that we see and appreciate today.
While Haas House may have originally been conceived as a shopping mall. Today, thanks to the reality of a times we live, Haas Haus functions a hotel, restaurant, café and offices. More importantly, it has also stood the test of time, at least for the moment, and is a popular attraction when visiting the Stephansplatz area.