About Buildings + Cities
Luke Jones & George Gingell Discuss Architecture, History and Culture
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.

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Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts.

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