Oskar Hansen

Oskar Hansen was born in Helsinki on 12 April 1922. This Polish architect, urban planner, teacher and theorist of Finnish birth graduated from the Technical College in Vilna (now Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1942, then studied in the Department of Architecture at the Technical University, Warsaw (1945-50). In the 1940s and the first half of the 1950s he also took up painting and sculpture, which he later dismissed as examples of ‘Closed Form’.
In 1948-50 he visited France, Italy and England and studied under Fernand Léger and Pierre Jeanneret; he also became acquainted with Le Corbusier, Henry Moore and Jerzy Soltan. From 1950 to 1983 he lectured at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw. He was also a member of the Groupe d’Etude d’Architecture Moderne (GEAM).

Hansen’s theory had a fundamental influence on the Polish concepts of ‘environment’, ‘dziela-procesu’ (works of process) and ‘performance’ in the 1960s. It was fully expressed in his competition plan for the international monument for the victims of fascism at Auschwitz-Birkenau (1957; with Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz and Julian Palka). In the 1960s Hansen developed the ‘Open Form’ theory into the ‘linear continuous system’ theory, which envisaged the extension of his principles to the arrangement of buildings and communications on a larger scale; projects included the housing estate at Przyczulek Grochowski, Warsaw (1963), the district plan for Warsaw-Ursynów (1966-68) and proposals for town, regional and national plans. He also designed several international exhibition buildings during his career, as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art (1966), Skopje, and the Polish Embassy (1973), Washington, DC.

Hansen’s contribution to the Team 10 discourse mainly revolves around the Open Form theory, which he presented at the last CIAM congress in Otterlo in 1959. He also presented the Auschwitz monument on this occasion. He attended several meetings in the 1960s, and contributed to the journal Le Carré Bleu.
Oskar Hansen died on 11 May 2005.