Architecture

Otto Wagner (1841–1918)

Born in Vienna and educated in Vienna and Berlin, Otto Wagner was in many ways the father of modern architecture in Vienna. The buildings he designed determined the appearance of Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century.

Vienna's chief architect

Otto Wagner was the chief architect for much of the rebuilding of Vienna in the latter part of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century – during which time he became increasingly radical in his approach.

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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol

He was responsible for major buildings in Vienna from the late 1870s, but also for projects that we would now define as engineering and urban planning. He designed the urban railway network, its bridges and handsomerailway stations, a new city plan (which, though influential, was not implemented) and canal system containing the River Danube.

While his early buildings looked back to previous centuries in their historical references, by the late 1890s he had embraced the new European style of Art Nouveau (called Jugendstil – or Youth style – in German-speaking countries).

Radical architecture

In 1894, Wagner was appointed Professor of Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, where he gathered students to the cause of a reforming, radical architecture. His 1896 textbook Modern Architecture calls for a changed philosophy: 'New human tasks and views called for a change or reconstitution of existing forms'. This philosophy became increasingly evident in his buildings.

Architecture highlights

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Gallia Apartment, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Karlsplatz station, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Karlsplatz station, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Karlsplatz station, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Karlsplatz station, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Interior of Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Interior of Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Interior of Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Interior of Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Interior of Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Sanatorium Purkersdorf
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Sanatorium Purkersdorf
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Sanatorium Purkersdorf
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Secession Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Secession Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
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Secession Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015441 Gallia Apartment, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015445 Karlsplatz station, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015448 Karlsplatz station, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015449 Karlsplatz station, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015451 Karlsplatz station, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015452 Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015453 Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015454 Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015458 Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015487 PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015486 PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015485 PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015484 PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015461 Interior of Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015462 Interior of Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015483 PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015463 Interior of Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015482 PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015464 Interior of Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015481 PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015480 PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015467 Interior of Looshaus, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015479 PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015470 Sanatorium Purkersdorf
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015478 PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015471 Sanatorium Purkersdorf
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015473 Sanatorium Purkersdorf
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015474 Secession Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015476 Secession Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol
ColApImg_EXHI015458 Secession Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol

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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol

In 1899 he joined the recently formed Vienna Secession (that included artist Gustav Klimt, architects and designers Joseph Maria Olbrich and Josef Hoffmann and artist and designer Koloman Moser) and contributed to the work of the Secession in transforming Vienna's cultural life.

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PSK Building, Vienna
© NGV photographer Jean-pierre Chabrol

Influential buildings

His most important buildings are the Church am Steinhof, with its gilded dome, in the grounds of the Austrian Psychiatric Hospital, the Jugenstil apartment building known as Majolica House, the revolutionary Postparkasse (Postal Savings Bank), his austerely modernist apartment building in Neustiftgasse and the stylish Die Zeit Façade of the newspaper house. All these buildings demonstrate Wagner's original and progressive thinking.

© 2011 National Gallery of Victoria

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