Vienna 1: Modernism

Wittgenstein Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Wittgenstein Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Last weekend I traveled with the team of writers of the book ‘The New Suffering’ to Vienna, a ‘city of suffering’ we decided. The book that we have written with Dutch author Arnon Grunberg will be published 1 September 2007 by Nijgh & van Ditmar, and will then be available in bookstores everywhere. I wrote a chapter called ‘About überwhores and clients’.

In Vienna we paid a visit to the Third Man Museum, and the Freud Museum - both somewhat related to ‘human suffering.’ The city itself wasn’t that much of a suffering – It was really nice. With a friend I also visited some architecture projects around that I want to show here in three posts.

A not so well known Modernist house is the villa that the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein built with architect Paul Engelmann for his sister in 1926. The intersecting volumes of the composition, and beautiful layout of the facades are marvelous. By now next to the villa an – also Modernist – office tower has been built. The contrast is so enormous, that the villa retains curiously its pride. Less fortunate is the ramp for the parking garage that cuts rigorously into the ground right in front of its entrance.

Wittgenstein Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Wittgenstein Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Wittgenstein Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Wittgenstein Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

In de city center of Vienna we went to check out the bookstore designed by Adolf Loos, and his famous ‘Loos Haus’, the Raiffaisen Bank. My friend rightfully noted his famous article was titled ‘Ornament and Crime’, not ‘Ornament = Crime’. The ten plant-holders were added later to the minimal façade, because of protests from citizens. To illustrate that these ‘ornaments’ were added later, Adolf Loos theatrically hang them on the façade with big rings. In the city the project is still an exception, and can therefore still be regarded as a provocation, although it is ninety years later. The solution of the corner is unprecedented and has never been followed – it’s really unique. And stunning, I think. 

Adolf Loos - Manz Bookstore, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Adolf Loos - Manz Bookstore, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Adolf Loos - Loos Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Adolf Loos - Loos Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Adolf Loos - Loos Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Adolf Loos - Loos Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Adolf Loos - Loos Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Adolf Loos - Loos Haus, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

A late Modernist architecture I found at the edge of the inner city. This building without any windows houses installations for the electricity company of Vienna, but it camouflages itself like an apartment building. That is also a kind of icongraphy. As noted earlier on Eikongraphia, New York has skyscrapers like that. And I hear there are ventilation-pipes for the metro in London disguised as workman-houses.

Slab with electricity installations, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Slab with electricity installations, Vienna, Austria (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)


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