From the age of 16, Gregor Schneider (born in Rheydt in 1969) has been transforming the interior of the home he inherited from his father in the small town of Rheydt, Germany. A work in progress until 2007, he has constantly added new rooms, separated others, removed mod-cons, and blocked up windows, adding fake ones in their place. The result is a labyrinthine structure which he has entitled Haus ur (House ur). Occasionally, visitors are invited to spend the night there and share his personal space.
In the 1990s he began to identically replicate parts of the house in museums and galleries.
He moved Haus ur to the German pavilion at the 2001 Venice Biennale, constructing a maze of dark and disconcerting rooms, each of which opens onto stairs, strange passageways and cul-de-sacs which visitors must wander, alone, before emerging from the house to freedom. This work, Totes Haus ur (Dead House ur), was awarded the Golden Lion.
With Die Familie Schneider (The Schneider Family, London, 2004), Gregor Schneider began to detach himself from Haus ur to create other, more complex spaces that were derived from his first work.