Metropolitan Architecture and Modernity: Otto Wagner in Context

Frisby, David Patrick (1998) Metropolitan Architecture and Modernity: Otto Wagner in Context. Master of Architecture thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The work of Otto Wagner (1841-1918) has been examined from many standpoints hitherto, most often as the leading protagonist in the development of modern architecture in Vienna at the turn of the century, together with Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Loos and others. The present thesis has a much more modest aim, namely, to examine some aspects of the context within which Wagner was developing his conception of a modern architecture particularly in the period up to 1900. Its focus is, as the title suggests, upon metropolitan architecture and modernity as the context for Wagner's polemical call for a modem architecture that reflects modem life. The introduction provides a brief overview of Wagner's development and examines some of the problems involved in reading the city and modern life. The chapter on modernity traces the ambiguities surrounding the concept of die Moderne both as an artistic movement - modernism - and as an object of artistic endeavour - modernity. An attempt is made to substantiate the claim that, rather than view the discourse on modernity as an exclusively turn of the century phenomenon in Vienna, it may be traced back to the 1880's and earlier. Drawing upon contemporary discourses within architecture journals largely in Vienna, the chapter highlights the conceptualisation of the modem within architectural circles in Vienna and elsewhere, whilst looking briefly at the relationship between this and other discourses on modernity. The crucial site for modern architecture is, for Wagner, the modern metropolis. Hence, the second chapter on the modem metropolis focuses upon two phases in the development of a 'new' Vienna - the one associated with the Ringstrasse development from around 1860 to 1890, and the other to the so-called 'second Renaissance' in Vienna (the Ringstrasse having been the first) from the 1890's onwards, which is most commonly identified with art nouveau and Secessionism in Vienna. Rather than focus upon this particular aesthetic dimension, the chapter investigates the relationship between the development of the new discipline, Stadtebau, literally city building, and the attempts to restructure Vienna under the epithet of 'new' Vienna. In particular, attention is given to the works of Camillo Sitte and Joseph Stubben as two of the major contributors to city planning theory and practice, who, in their different ways, had a significant impact upon the development of a 'new' Vienna. Wagner's contribution to the important competition for a General Regulation Plan for Vienna is placed in this context. In the course of the chapter, a case is made for considering city planning as a crucial and often neglected dimension of metropolitan modernity. The third chapter commences with a detailed, critical analysis of Wagner's Moderne Architektur volume of 1896 which outlines the claim that a modem architecture must reflect the modem life of the metropolis. This claim is examined, in relation to the contemporary response to Wagner's claims in the light of Wagner's teaching programme and its outcomes and to some of the building types favoured by his conception of modernity. Drawing upon arguments from the earlier chapters, there follows an examination of features of 'modern life' as delineated by Wagner in his writings that highlight some of the contradictions in a project to develop a modem architecture that reflects this modem life. The conclusion draws together the contradictions in the concept of modernity and its relevance for understanding the modem metropolis and its architecture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in Vienna.

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Architecture)
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Christian Hermansen
Keywords: Architecture
Date of Award: 1998
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1998-75269
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 21:23
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 21:23

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