House of Good Cheer

This curious structure, that has puzzled many, was constructed according to the designs of the architect Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg in the late 1890s. Today, only the foundation walls remain in the dense vegetation. A model in the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna (1799), and many contemporary images and descriptions however provide accurate information regarding how the "House of Good Cheer" originally looked. Following the devastations of the French occupation in 1809, the building was redesigned by the architect Alois Pichl in 1812 in a more Gothic style (but this was not implemented) and finally in 1814, a respectable "house of please in the oak grove" was renovated both internally and externally. Since the 1960s, the existing remains have become less and less visible.

Haus der LauneThe idea of mad architectures was not new in the 18th century. To be precise, from around 1770 an intellectual discussion about the House of the Prince in Palagonia, Sicily took place, which must have been known to Empress Maria Theresa. This villa of the "topsy-turvy" world from around 1740 was visited by many cultured travellers (including Goethe) and much discussed. Precisely in the century of reason, there was intensive analysis of the phenomenon of irrationality (French: "déraison"). The foreign-language names of the "House of Good Cheer" speak for themselves: "maison burlesque", "maison de caprice", "maison de phantaisie".

Haus der LauneThe meaning of the "House of Good Cheer" in Laxenburg can, in terms of cultural history, be found in the fact that here, for the first time in Austria an intellectual architectural caricature was created, which in the open space of nature and the garden ensured the continued existence of the Hofnarrentum (court jester), which was much in demand in the 18th century. The upside-down world beyond ceremonial "ennui" (boredom) was intended to express the desire for not rational, but irrational freedom, which was ultimately rooted in the critical instincts of the Enlightenment.

Unfortunately, now only the foundation walls of the structure remain. However, with the aid of sponsors, Schloss Laxenburg Betriebsgesellschaft is endeavouring to reconstruct this valuable building and find a contemporary use for it.