Haus-Rucker-Co. “Environment Transformer” the “Flyhead,” 1968
In the late 1960s, a group of architects in Vienna decided to see what would happen if they created architectural designs that had the ability to alter a person’s state of perception or consciousness, using sensory enhancement or deprivation.
Haus-Rucker-Co. “Environment Transformers” left to right - the “Flyhead,” “Viewatomizer,” and the “Drizzler,” 1968
Comprised of Laurids Ortner, Günther Zamp Kelp and Klaus Pinter (and later joined by Manfred Ortner in 1971) the group called themselves Haus-Rucker-Co. In 1967 the group formed around something they called the “Mind Expanding Program” which produced a number of sensory enhancement machines like the “Mind Expander Chair,” futuristic helmets known as “Environment Transformers” with names like “Flyhead,” “Viewatomizer,” and the “Drizzler,” (pictured above), as well as the groovy-sounding, “Yellow Heart” (pictured below).
Haus-Rucker-Co. “Yellow Heart” 1968
The psychedelic architects described the experience of being inside the “Yellow Heart” as follows:
The idea that a concentrated experience of space could offer a direct approach to changes in consciousness led to the construction of a pneumatic space capsule, called the ‘Yellow Heart.’ Through a lock made of three air rings, one arrived at a transparent plastic mattress. Offering just enough space for two people, it projected into the centre of a spherical space that was made up of soft, air-filled chambers. Lying there one could perceive that the air-filled “pillows,” whose swelling sides almost touched one, slowly withdrew, that is to say the surrounding space appeared to expand, finally forming a translucent sphere and then, in a reverse motion, flowed out again. Large dots arranged in a grid on the outer and inner surfaces of the air-shells changed in rhythmic waves from milky patches to a clear pattern. The space pulsated at extended intervals.
Haus-Rucker-Co. “Mind Expander” chair, 1968
“Mind Expander Chair” II by Haus-Rucker-Co. 1969
The idea for Haus-Rucker’s “Mind Expander Chair” was born from their “Balloon for Two” installation, which was a large balloon hung from a window outside a small apartment in Vienna with structures and trees inside of it. The Mind Expander Chair on the other hand was not as precarious, and was created for two people to use at the same time. The idea was that a woman would sit on her male companion’s lap and once everyone was too close for comfort, the large cover of the Mind Expander Chair would be pulled down and something called a “rhythm machine” would be (ahem), turned on.
Haus-Rucker’s CV is rich with sci-fi daydreams, and to feature them all here would be much like their creations, seemingly impossible. There have been a few books published on the history of Haus-Rucker-Co. worth looking into like Haus-Rucker-Co: Architectural Utopia Reloaded that features a large sampling of the group’s space-aged creations. Images from Haus-Rucker’s “Mind Expansion” series, as well as their interactive piece from 1970, “Giant Billiard” follow.
You could grab your bong to enhance your own personal experience, but trust me, you’re not going to need it.
An early version of the “Mind Expander” chair, 1967
“Oase Number 7,” an installation in progress by Haus-Rucker-Co., Kassel, Germany, 1972
Haus-Rucker-Co. “Giant Billiard” an interactive, inflatable structure while on view at what was then called the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York City, 1970
A pink “Mind Expander” by Haus-Rucker-Co.
Inside the “Mind Expander”
The men of Haus-Rucker-Co. in their “Environment Transformers”
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
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