The history of Ortner & Ortner dates back to 1970. At that time Laurids Ortner, Manfred Ortner and Günther Zamp Kelp worked together in Düsseldorf as Haus-Rucker-Co. The projects they worked on over the following 15 years shifted programmatically between the areas of free art and architecture. Many of them anticipated later developments and had a sustained influence on tendencies and directions. Major themes, such as 'second nature' – the fusion of the naturally grown and the artificially created – or 'deconstruction' – the taking apart and new composition of buildings – were raised in an illustrative manner in projects and exhibitions.
In the mid-1980s the interest moved increasingly to concrete building commissions. Loosened from Haus-Rucker-Co, Ortner & Ortner worked from this time onwards as an architects practice and in 1990 were commissioned to build one of the world's largest cultural centres, the Vienna Museumsquartier.
On the occasion of a comprehensive Haus-Rucker-Co retrospective held in the Kunsthalle in Vienna in 1992 the group was declared dissolved. Over 1000 catalogued drawings, models and objects from the Haus-Rucker period are still in the architects' ownership and offer a complete overview of an œuvre that made an important contribution to the revision of modernism.