June 16, 2010

Hollein - Tobacconist’s.

Hollein's masterpiece from the '60ies - the Retti shop

Designing and building a tobacco shop is not quite a proper, political correct commission - anyway - Austria's only Pritzker Prize winning architect did it: In 1992, Hans Hollein designed a tobacconist's shop at Stefansplatz, a top location in Vienna. It is not his only shop in the city center. Most prominent Hollein shops are the jeweler's shop Schullin (1972), Christ Metek's boutique, Reti’s candle shop (1965) and of course the Haas House. At least in Vienna, these shops are retail architecture classics of postmodernism.

the original Hollein design (left) - and its destruction (right)

But now, the Austrian Tobacco Industry (now owned by Japan Tobacco, JTI) wants to get rid of the tobacconist's shop. Apparently, the iconic tobacco leaf has not attracted enough smokers. The owner argues, however, that the shop has been used as a trainings-facility for handicapped people and was not practical in the current design.The proposed after-Hollein design scheme shows an doorless facade, welcoming smoking addictive customers. Surely functional but an architectural affront - especially at this address. Couldn't they have just widen the entrance?

the new proposal for the tobacconist's - what an ugliness! 

Surprisingly, after most parts of the facade have been demolished, the shop got an "preservation order" - most part of the lately demolished facade has to be reconstructed. (even politicians are now on the case - [ger] - http://www.schicker.at/?p=2227)

Is building preservation of contemporary architecture the only way to prevent building-owners from their own destructiveness?