A turn-of-the-century walk


One of the Wienzeile houses, Otto Wagner and his students, 1898-99


One of the Ruferinnen at the top of the house, by Othmar Schimkowitz

At the Karlsplatz pavilion, I bought a Jugendstil walking guide, which determined the rest of my afternoon. I headed down the covered-over Wienfluss (now a marketplace) and past the Secession building (designed by Josef Maria Olbrich 1897-98). At present it is under wraps and I had no inclination to join the queue to go inside (I’ve already seen it), so I continued to the Wienzeile houses. The corner block is particularly impressive, with its rounded corner and set-back top-floor veranda. F044924A-1638-4D8B-A3F1-B9CB1C6E7AFDThe top-heavy decoration is quite unnecessary but lovely; it certainly shouts out. There are similarities between this and the blocks (built later) by Giovanni Battista Bossi in Milan that I saw last month, particularly as one of the houses originally had frescoes on the upper floors. (This fits in with Wagner’s rejection of the hierarchy of floors, which I read about later.) The Majolikahaus next door, with its glazed tiles, is brilliant. Again, totally unnecessary decoration, but it makes you smile. At either end are receding panels in dark green tiles, almost hidden.


The front door was open, so I stuck my nose in and saw the floor tiles and elaborate lift doors.


Oskar Marmorek, 1902

There was more to see as I headed to Pilgramgasse station (similar design to Stadtpark station): little glimpses of innovation amongst the conventional. I couldn’t help wondering about the maintenance required to keep them looking so attractive; there’s no doubt a good reason that the communal apartment blocks are finished in plain, dull render.

I then headed back to the centre to look at the Goldman & Salatsch house by Adolf Loos. It’s seen as an important statement of Viennese modernism with its reinforced concrete frame, upper flatness and unadorned windows, yet it harks back to the Biedermeier age with its classical columns. Loos designed it for a tailor shop, and the shop interior and exterior is luxurious. Sadly I was too late to be allowed more than a peek inside, so I headed off for some restorative Kaffee und Kuchen.


1909-1911 by Adolf Loos


About aides mémoires

This is a chronological list of things I have seen, places I have visited, and thoughts that have wandered through the space between my ears. A reading group of one; an art appreciation society limited by my preferences and prejudices; opera criticism by one who knows nothing about the subject.
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