Linke WienZielehauser (Linke Wienzeile no 38, Majolikahaus and Köstlergasse 3)
Kirche am Steinhof (1903-7)
Postal Savings Bank (1904-06/1910-12)
The most popular residential buildings designed by Wagner can be found close to each other at Linke Wienzeile.
Linke Wienzeile no 38: recognisable for its golden ornaments. They cover most of the white façade’s upper part. The corner draws a quarter of a circle.
Majolikahaus: unusually colourful and decorative while maintaining a simple shape. The facade bursts with glazed red poppy tiles the house acquired the name Majolika. In fact, the name comes from the Spanish tile tradition in Mallorca. However, the greatest draw of these tiles for Otto Wagner less the aesthetics but the fact that they were durable and easy to clean.
Köstlergasse 3: Just next to no 38, the residential building is the simplest of the three buildings but emanates total elegance. Most notably, at the ground floor and mezzanine the pure white façade with circle shaped and rectangular ornaments and green slim window frames shows grooves.
Kirche am Steinhof, also called the Church of St. Leopold, is the Roman Catholic oratory of the Otto-Wagner-Spital in the area of Steinhof in Vienna, Austria. The building, designed by Otto Wagner, is considered one of the most important Art Nouveau churches in the world.The church dominates and forms part of the Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital.
The church was built between 1903 and 1907 by the 63-year-old architect Otto Wagner, with mosaics and stained glass by Koloman Moser, and sculptural angels by Othmar Schimkowitz (1864–1947). The great majority of the other smaller details are the work of Otto Wagner himself. The statues on the two external towers represent Saint Leopold and Saint Severin (l. & r. respectively: they are the two patron saints of Lower Austria) and are the work of the Viennese sculptor Richard Luksch (1872–1936).
In his 1896 manifesto Modern Architecture, Wagner expressed his ideal of practical and efficiently designed architecture. The purpose of beauty, he argued, was to give artistic expression to function. Extraneous ornament, therefore, was not only impractical and inefficient, it was also decidedly unmodern.
Realized in two phases, the first in 1904 – 1906 and the second in 1910 – 1912, the Postal Savings Bank was Otto Wagner’s first major building commission and allowed him to realize his “functional” principles of architecture for the first time.
Polished marble, ebonized beech-wood, nickel-plated and aluminum detailing, and everywhere broad panels of curved and beveled glass. Within Otto Wagner’s Austrian Postal Savings Bank, it is the very materiality of the finely crafted stone, concrete, glass, wood, and metal that makes the building decidedly “functional.”
Wagner’s approach to design was closely tied to that of the Secession—a progressive group of Austrian artists drawn to the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk. The Postal Savings Bank might well be considered a Gesamtkunstwerk, and perfectly epitomizes Wagner’s comprehensive approach to building design. Rising seven-stories and occupying an entire city block, the Savings Bank is one of the many monumentally-scaled civic buildings erected in Vienna in the years 1880 – 1910, a period in which the historical city was transformed into a modern metropolis.
Framed by a riveted steel superstructure, the central banking hall takes the form of a glass atrium, and every surface—wall, counter, door, window or pillar—bears the trace of the craftsman. In laying out the interior spaces, Wagner’s sought to maximize efficiency and minimize the amount of daily cleaning and future repair. Wide hallways, elevator lifts, telephone lines, and a pneumatic tube system were installed to facilitate internal communication, and within the offices, adjustable partitions allowed bank employees to reform their workspaces according to desire and need.
© Alan John Ainsworth Photography