Architecture in Vienna 1900


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Vienna around 1900 is the seedbed for an architectural style that culminated in the functionalism of Adolf Loos and played a crucial role in the development of the language of architectural modernism and postmodernism in the twentieth century. Max Fabiani's, Josef Maria Hofmann's, Josef Maria Olbrich's, Josef Plecnik's, and Otto Wagner's buildings, interior designs, and civic projects are examples of the experimentalism and spirited debates that characterized this period. Modern architecture, as defined by Otto Wagner in his guidebook for students, was an extremely progressive program that responded to the demands of modern life and a functionalist acknowledgment of technical demands. Modern Architecture appeared in 1896 and outlined an approach to design that would become synonymous with twentieth century practice. Instead of the historicist eclecticism that characterized the proud monument of the Ringstrasse, Wagner was convinced that the departure point for the architectural work of his age can only be modern life. Wagner dispensed with formal elements and an abundance of plastic decoration that had characterized nineteenth century architecture. His Postal Savings Bank, for example, from 1911-1912 is characterized by smooth wall dressings that lend aesthetic justification to his argument that the "modern eye" has lost its sense for a small and intimate scale and become accustomed to longer straight lines, to more expansive surfaces, and to plainer silhouetting. The majolica sheathing on the façade of the apartment house on Linke Wienzeile 40 serves a spatial divider apppropriate for the image of the modern metropolis.