The Long Thin Yellow Legs of Architecture (1988), photo Fototechnische Dienst Rotterdam (1988) - Stadsarchief Rotterdam CC BYE 4.0
In 1988 Coop Himmelb(l)au designed a Deconstructivist sculpture with the title The Long Thin Yellow Legs of Architecture. The sketch for the sculpture emerged, as with Coop Himmelb(l)au’s architecture, ‘ … in a brief moment during the design process – a moment that was delayed for as long as possible. They devoted lengthy discussions to the function, materials, light and atmosphere of the construction. During these preparations they made as few visualisations as possible, saving the design itself for a moment of inspiration: a nervous scribble, which is rather meaningless to the outsider.’
[From: Jan van Adrichem, Karel Schampers, Reyn van der Lugt (eds.), Beelden in de stad, Utrecht 1988, p.64].
Coop Himmelb(l)au’s intuitive working method has resulted in expressive buildings and sculptures, including the sculpture made specially for Rotterdam: The Long Thin Yellow Legs of Architecture. It is an open construction of steel plates and beams. The materials, which come from the functional world of the building industry, contrast with the result, which is non-functional. The playful forms suggest a lightness that is at odds with the sculpture’s scale, an effect that is emphasised by the use of colour: the heavy steel plates and beams are painted mainly in light colours such as yellow, white and sky blue.
The members of Coop Himmelb(l)au take the results of the aforementioned design sessions extremely seriously. Two-dimensional notations are enlarged and translated into three-dimensional models, which serve as the basis for the technical execution of the work. Even the smallest details in the scribble are taken seriously. This makes it all the more remarkable that when the sculpture was last repainted the black shading on the lowest steel plate was not reinstated.