Children’s Book: Pinsel, Paula und die Plaudernden Häuser
Image Credits: Alexander Mayer
If one compares the richness of books written and drawn to get the youngest acquainted with paintings, plays or music you will find not much about houses.
Therefore, as fellow architecture students James Skone, Alexander Mayer and I decided to do something about that, because we felt that a good understanding of space and how political, social and economic forces shape and have shaped the city in the past is essential to all people, because it determines everybody’s life.
The children’s book Pinsel, Paula und die plaudernden Häuser attempts to create an investigative journey into the architecture of Vienna for young students. In writing it we tried to find a way to communicate basic architectural concepts from medieval Romanesque sacral buildings to deconstructivism by letting houses speak for themselves. In dialogues, the “elderly” Hofburg (imperial castle) argues with “boldfaced” Looshaus on the issue of ornament and Karl-Marx-Hof and a garbage incineration plant both stress the advancements made by the politicians of Red Vienna. By giving buildings human attributes that were well connected to their architectural characteristics, we felt that we could best communicate where their origins stem from. Pinsel, the child protagonist is the one who can hear them talk, his rational friend Paula, tries to prove him wrong until she eventually finds out that Pinsel can really hear the houses speak.
Pinsel and Paula was published in March 2006 by öbv & hpt Publishers and for a month it was the number 1 sale at the art and architecture book store in Vienna Prachner (now Walther König). It stayed in the top 3 for another 3 months. In June 2006 Pinsel, Paula und die Plaudernden Häuser premiered as a play directed by Kostas Papageorgiou, after being adapted to a play script. A children’s workshop was held on the basis of it at Theaterhaus für Junges Publikum, Dschungel Wien (theatre for the young).
On Pinsel and Paula
Maybe I should first introduce to you Pinsel and Paula, because they are the children that our story is about, and you surely want to know who they are.
Pinsel’s real name is Elias. His name originates from his hairstyle because he always ties his hair back in a pony tail, so that it won’t fall in his face. Pinsel’s older brother claims that this is a girly hairstyle and when he wants to annoy Pinsel, he calls him, little Pinselchen, because Pinsel is a little short for his age. Nonetheless Pinsel likes his hairstyle and he also thinks that his nickname suits him well, because he loves to paint and draw.
Paula is Pinsel’s best big friend. It is great, to have her as a companion, because she is smart and reads tons of books. Besides that she is so nicely weird. Paula’s parents never have much time for her and that is why she can do whatever she pleases.
It was shortly before the big summer break. There was a smell of fresh warm grass in the air and the sun shined day in day out. And so Pinsel and Paula could wander through the city. Their expeditions lead them to the public parks and the big plazas that where always full of people.
And suddenly on a warm day in May something odd happened.
And this is what I want to tell you about here.