Otto Wagner In Vienna
7 Keys To Art Nouveau Architecture Made In Vienna
Austrian architect and artist Otto Wagner was key in bringing Vienna into the 20th century. His modernist and art nouveau architecture is about keeping it simple while making functional items look decorative. If Coco Chanel was an architect, she would have designed like Wagner.
Try to see just half of his 7 signature pieces below and your image of Vienna may change forever.
Who Was Otto Wagner?
Otto Wagner (1841 to 1918) was one of the founding members of the revolutionary artists' association Vienna Secession. The trained architect, visual artist and brick layer shaped Vienna with a series of constructions, from the Austrian Postal Savings Bank, villas, railway stations, and residential buildings to the most beautiful Art Nouveau weir on the Danube.
1. Pavilions At Karlsplatz
The two identical green, gold and white pavilions at Karlsplatz are a great start to explore Otto Wagner and Art Nouveau architecture in Vienna.
The pavilions were built in 1898 as station buildings of the Viennese city railway. Today, one of the pavilions houses a documentary about the life and architecture of
Wagner, run by Wien Museum. The centrepiece is a model of the architect's stunning Church at Steinhof.
The Austrian Postal Savings Bank (Postsparkasse) is a whole world of modern aesthetics. Everything in this still operating Postal Savings Bank
obeys the principles of functional beauty: from the aluminium coated iron spikes on the facade to the wooden panels, radiators, clocks, chairs, counters,
and door handles. Otto Wagner's most modern and most important building is a must see for design freaks. It also hosts a fine boutique museum about Wagner and the Postal Savings Bank,
including historic photographs, sketches, innovative materials and an architectural model of the Postal Savings Bank.
3. City Railway Stations
The most beautiful stations designed by Otto Wagner along the U6 are Karlsplatz, Längenfeldgasse, Gumpendorfer Strasse, Währinger Strasse, and Nussdorfer Strasse. The highlights along the U4 are Stadtpark, Schönbrunn, and Hietzing with Wagner's Kaiserpavillon at 150 metres distance from the station. The pavilion was built as a private station for Emperor Francis Joseph, but was never used.
4. Wagner Villas I and II
Otto Wagner Villa I/ Ernst Fuchs Villa
Wagner built his first villa as a summer residence for himself and his family in a green leafy suburb in the West of Vienna from 1886 to 1888.
The historistic building is simple, symmetric and white, a perfect background for exuberant details: doric columns, reliefs, coloured wall niches with sculptures, blue ornaments and rich cast iron rails.
The villa is owned by Austrian Fantastic Realism painter Ernst Fuchs, who established his own private museum there.
He restored many parts of the villa according to Wagner's initial plans, and added his own flamboyant style to other parts, the interiors and the gardens.
Expect an exciting mix of subdued Art Nouveau and extravagant Fantastic Realism.
Otto Wagner Villa II
Wagner's smaller second villa is located right next to his first, and is characteristically modern. He wanted a smaller house once his children had left. You can see
how much his artistic style had evolved towards Art Nouveau architecture in the 25 years between the construction of the first and second villa. The cubistic house was built in modern steel concrete,
has narrow high windows and is much more sparingly decorated with blue stripes and ornaments, and aluminium nails.
The most popular residential buildings designed by Wagner can be found close to each other at Linke Wienzeile, next to Naschmarkt.
Linke Wienzeile no 38
You recognise this Wagner building on its great golden ornaments decorating the white facade and the corner shaped as a quarter of a circle, a then ground-breaking solution. The golden ornaments were done by Koloman Moser, another great Austrian Art Nouveau artist and painter. Make sure you zoom in on the fabulous female bronze sculptures on the roof. Today, Linke Wienzeile no 38 houses a branch of an Austrian bank. As one of Europe's prime Art Nouveau jewels, the building also features on a 100 Euro gold coin.
Linke Wienzeile no 40
My favourite Art Nouveau building in Vienna is the Majolikahaus at no 40. It is unusually colourful and decorative while maintaining a simple shape. The name Majolika comes from the Spanish tile tradition in Mallorca. The building is tiled all over with glazed red poppy tiles. The greatest advantage of these tiles for Otto Wagner were, however, that they were durable and easy to clean. The building houses a second hand bookshop on part of the ground floor, and residential apartments on the upper floors.
The residential building adjacent to no 38 is the simplest of the three buildings but emanates a certain elegance. The pure white facade with circle shaped and rectangular ornaments and green slim window frames is grooved at the ground floor and mezzanine. Otto Wagner himself lived in the building for a few years. The building's entrance is around of the corner of Linke Wienzeile, at Köstlergasse.
6. Church Am Steinhof
Have you ever been to an Art Nouveau church? The Otto Wagner 'Kirche Am Steinhof', Europe's first church of the modern era, is an absolute highlight for fans of Art Nouveau architecture.
Walls from white Carrara marble, a dome from gold foil, bronze angel statues, and colourful glass mosaic windows created a revolution for clericals,
the people and some Habsburg family members. Tellingly for conservative Habsburg Vienna, the church was built on the grounds of
Vienna's psychiatric clinic for the Mentally Retarded. What I love most about this church: its light elegance spreads so much warmth and optimism.
7. Danube Weir At Nussdorf
Otto Wagner's Danube Weir at Nussdorf and the Schemerl Bridge (1894 to 1898) are key highlights of a boat trip on the Western Vienna Danube and Danube Canal. The weir with its two imposing bronze lions on either side looks like a city gate, which was the architect's intention. The weir marks the point where the Danube Canal bifurcates from the Danube. The weir itself was thoroughly renovated in the 1960s and 1970s, but you can still feel the architect when viewing the Schemerl Bridge.
Things To See And Do In Vienna
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