About Buildings + Cities
Luke Jones & George Gingell Discuss Architecture, History and Culture
11 months ago

83 —Otto Wagner — 5/5 — Proto-Modernist

Our final episode on Otto Wagner considers his relationship to modernism, asking whether Wagner was a predecessor to modernism. We discussed his most modern building, the Österreichische Postsparkasse or Austrian Postal Savings Bank, like so much in Vienna at this time, a coming together of the old world and the new.

Our next series on Ian Nairn will start very soon!

Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts.

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1 year ago

82 — Otto Wagner — 4/5 — Secession

In the penultimate episode in our series on Otto Wagner, we discussed Wagner's most famous projects, the art nouveau works produced at the height of the Vienna Secession. We talked about the Majolikahaus, other art nouveau apartment blocks, the Karlsplatz stadtbahn station and his transcendent Kirche am Steinhof designed for a psychiatric hospital with Wagner also masterplanned.

There's one more episode to come on Otto Wagner, where we will discuss his relationship to modernism! Our next series on the British architectural critic Ian Nairn will start in June.

Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts.

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1 year ago

*Preview* — 81.5 — Klimt

This is a preview of our latest bonus episode on Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secession, get access to the full episode on our Patreon.

In this episode we discussed the work of the Vienna Secession beyond Otto Wagner, particularly the artist Gustav Klimt. The Secession were a group of radical artists who were central to establishing the Art Nouveau in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Klimt's paintings, with their flattened perspectives, hallucinatory colours and heroin-chic female nudes made him famous, however increasingly prominent commissions led to his style coming into conflict with the dominant hierarchies of taste within the Empire.

Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts.

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1 year ago

81 — Otto Wagner — 3/5 — On the Stadtbahn

In this episode, we talked about the middle stage of Otto Wagner's career, primarily his work on the infrastructure of the city of Vienna. Visit our instagram and Twitter for pictures of the dams, railway stations and bridges that shaped Viennese modernity and provided the infrastructure for this rapidly growing city.

Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts.

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1 year ago

80 — Otto Wagner — 2/5 — The Style Question

In our second episode on Otto Wagner, we discussed a couple of Wagner's early buildings, specifically the Landerbank in Vienna and the Rumbach Street Synagogue in Budapest. Both are tantalising glimpses of the themes that would dominate his later, most famous works.

We then discussed the architectural theory that was being produced in vast quantities in the German-speaking lands of the 19th century, specifically how they addressed the question of architectural style, posing the question 'In what style should we build?' These authors, such as Gottfried Semper, Heinrich Hübsch and Carl Gottlieb Wilhelm Bötticher offered complex justifications for different architectural styles, grounded in stories about history, structural logic, skeuomorphs and culture.

Otto Wagner plunged headlong into this debate with his 1896 book, Modern Architecture: A Guidebook for His Students to this Field of Art, which offered his own view on the answer to the style question, and prefigured many of the arguments and ideas touted by the modern movement in the 20th century.

Go to Blue Crow Media and use the offer code AboutBuildings at checkout to get 10% off your next architectural map.

Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts.

Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus content for every show.

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1 year ago

79 — Otto Wagner — 1/5 — Ringstraße Rent Palaces

This is the first episode in our new series on Otto Wagner. In it we discussed 19th century Vienna, an ancient city wracked by extremes of urbanisation and population boom; political radicalism and revolution. A crumbling ancient order and an emerging modern metropolis came to create the Ringstraße, a vast redevelopment programme that took the empty space around the walls of the old city and filled it with vast marble institutions and speculatively built apartment complexes that came to symbolise the newly empowered liberal city.

Into this fiery melting pot came Otto Wagner, a singular architect, often hailed as a precursor to modernism, whose career we will be exploring over the course of this multi-part series (with slightly shorter episodes that we will release more regularly).

There's lots of images in this one so please come to instagram to see them!

Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts.

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1 year ago

*Preview* — 77.5 — Patrick Keiller Bonus Episode

This is a preview of a bonus episode we published on Patreon as part of our series of WG Sebald's 'Austerlitz', subscribe to our Patreon to subscribe and get access to our back catalogue of bonus episodes.

In this bonus episode we talked about the films of Patrick Keiller, specifically 'London' (1994) and 'Robinson in Space' (1997), a pair of meticulously observed polemical psycho-geographies, exploring the derangements and idiosyncrasies of Britain in the Long 90s. Like in the work of Sebald, a narrator stands in for Keiller, and relates to us the strange beliefs and worldview of his interlocutor, Robinson. Keiller's exploration is laboured with literary accretions, wry observations about the decline and fall of Great Britain, and more than a little righteous anger.

Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts.

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1 year ago

78 — WG Sebald's 'Austerlitz' — 2/2 — Locked Rooms

Our second episode on WG Sebald's 2001 novel 'Austerlitz', encountering strangely preserved rooms, nightmarish dream landscapes, gigantesque 19th century fantasies, and a mix of psychoanalysis, Perrault's Bibliothèque Nationale, Liverpool Street Station and Casanova.

Watch Sebald giving a reading of Austerlitz and listen to an interview with him on KCRW.

This episode is sponsored by Blue Crow Media, who gorgeous architectural maps. Use the offer code aboutbuildings at checkout to get 10% off.

Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts.

Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus content for every show.

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1 year ago

77 — WG Sebald's 'Austerlitz' — 1/2 — In the Nocturama

In our first episode of 2021 we discussed 'Austerlitz', the final novel by W.G. Sebald. It's the story, at the most basic level, of an architectural historian, Jacques Austerlitz, who in middle age begins to rediscover his own submerged history. It's a novel driven by architectural spaces, which are mysterious containers of both individual and collective memory and history. Austeritz's own memories of his childhood escape from Nazi-occupied Prague, his lost parents, and the bloody history of Europe itself are gradually revealed in the images and landscapes that he encounters.

Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts.

Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus content for every show.

Our sponsor for this episode is Blue Crow Media, who produce gorgeous architectural maps of different cities, including Pyongyang, Tbilisi and New York. Use the offer code aboutbuildings for 10% off your next purchase.

Please rate and review the show on your podcast store to help other people find us!

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1 year ago

*Preview* — 76.5 — Robert Moses Bonus Episode

This is a preview from our latest Patreon Bonus Episode – subscribe to our Patreon for just $3 a month to listen to the whole episode! Thank you to everyone who supported the show this year, we couldn't have done it without you, and we can't wait to discuss more architectural history in 2021.

Our final episode for 2020 is here and our last episode on Jane Jacobs. We're discussing Robert Moses, the megalomaniacal titan of New York planning who wielded enormous political power and bent the metropolis to his will, orchestrating a symphony of demolitions, highways, expressways and grands projets which changed the face of the city forever.

'You can draw any kind of picture you want on a clean slate and indulge your every whim in the wilderness in laying out a New Delhi, Canberra, or Brasilia, but when you operate in an overbuilt metropolis, you have to hack your way with a meat ax.'

He was also a spiteful bully, a racist, an egomaniac and a very difficult man, yet he maintained his authority and his power for almost 3 decades before a precipitous fall in the 1960s, when public and political opinion turned against him for good. He embodied everything that Jane Jacobs despised about urban planning, but his life and work have much to tell us about the mid-century city.

Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts.

Please rate and review the show on your podcast store to help other people find us!

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