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Baroque’s off: my mission to hunt out Vienna’s modernist masterpieces | Vienna holidays



The twentieth century was unkind to Vienna. The capital of the Habsburg empire till 1918, it was, by early 1989, a bleak and battered outpost inside touching distance of the iron curtain. Now that town has undeniably recaptured its glory of previous (symbolically, its inhabitants grew to 2 million final yr, its pre-first world struggle imperial inhabitants), it may appear counterintuitive to go to it for its modernist structure. However this can be a extremely rewarding endeavour, particularly if one needs to keep away from an overdose of Sachertorte (chocolate cake), horse-drawn carriages, flamboyant church buildings and palaces, and imperial tat.

Viennese Modernism, or Die Wiener Moderne, started a lot sooner than its European counterparts. As early as 1895, essentially the most distinguished architect of the day, Otto Wagner, introduced the top of historicist and romanticist structure, which had dominated the earlier many years – there was to be no extra neoclassical, neo-baroque, neo-gothic or neo-Renaissance.

Max Fabiani’s Urania Observatory. {Photograph}: edpics/Alamy

Two years later, the Vienna Secession emerged. An Austrian model of artwork nouveau, one in all its predominant proponents was Wagner himself. It’s nonetheless extensively seen, within the type of the Vienna Stadtbahn stations (particularly at Karlsplatz), or the colorful Linke Wienzeile Buildings (Nos 38 and 40). Later, within the 1900s, got here the luxurious Kirche am Steinhof, and the extra starkly practical Österreichische Postsparkasse off the Ring. His second villa, Villa Wagner II (14th district), is a paragon of sobriety, constructed subsequent to his earlier, extra extravagant, residence, the predictably named Villa Wagner I. The primary was erected in 1888 and the second in 1913, thus spanning a very powerful years of his profession and providing a putting distinction between the pre-modern and fashionable eras.

A lot of Wagner’s college students and proteges grew to become key architects of Vienna Modernism, most notably Joseph Maria Olbrich, the architect of the famend Secession Constructing by Karlsplatz. Josef Hoffmann, one other founding father of the Secession who studied beneath Wagner, was a prolific architect who got here to specialize in villas, that are nonetheless dotted across the Viennese panorama: except for the Villa Skywa-Primavesi within the upmarket thirteenth district, he constructed a number of homes within the much more prosperous nineteenth district, together with the Haus Knips, and the Haus Eduard Ast. By the top of the Nineteen Twenties and within the early 30s, he had turned his consideration to social housing, and inspired younger architects equivalent to Le Corbusier.

Architects together with Josef Hoffmann and Adolf Loos designed the Werkbundsiedlung, a housing property in Vienna-Hietzing that was opened in 1932. {Photograph}: Nathalie Carton Lou/Alamy

Max Fabiani was one other scholar of Wagner’s who labored on the Stadtbahn and left an indelible mark on Vienna. Other than the unmistakable Urania constructing by the Danube, his stunning Artaria-Haus on the distinguished Kohlmarkt within the Previous City is a real outlier on the road, harking back to the “Slovene artwork nouveau” he created and exported to Ljubljana. His Haus Portois & Repair within the third district is no doubt one of the fascinating, avant-garde and authentic buildings in Vienna. It’s arduous to think about what individuals manufactured from it on the time, in 1901.

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In addition to Otto Wagner and his followers, essentially the most well-known exponent of Vienna modernist structure was the Brno-born Adolf Loos, who, having briefly dabbled with the Secession motion, rapidly turned his again on it, looking for a much less ornate, stripped-down type of structure (nonetheless concealing wealthy interiors), which rapidly made him controversial and set him other than his Viennese contemporaries. Most well-known for his “scandalous” Looshaus within the Previous City. Loos’s break from the consensus was significantly noticeable in works such because the Haus Steiner (Sankt-Veit-Gasse 10) from 1910, the 1913 Haus Scheu and the little-known Haus Rufer Home from 1922, all three within the thirteenth district, and all three harking back to conventional modernist actions elsewhere in Europe.


The listing is much from exhaustive and walks by the centre, or thirteenth, 14th and nineteenth districts specifically will undoubtedly reward admirers of recent structure.

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