Architects: Otto Wagner
Location: Vienna, Austria
Architect: Otto Wagner
Reference: Peter Gossell, Henry Russell Hitchcock, Kirk Varnedoe
Project Year: 1899
From the architect. An apartment building in Vienna, the Majolikahaus designed by Otto Wagner in the turn of the 20th century emanates some of the most classic details of the Art Nouveau style. In Vienna this was referred to as the Secession style, with the same connotations of Art Nouveau but in a more specific context of their country.
An entire facade built of small ceramic tiles, also known as majolica, flow into floral shapes as the extend higher up the wall.
Other materials used in the exterior finishing include iron and wooden frames for the windows, in a perimeter block and infill building type.
Wagner established himself in Vienna as a man of beautiful detail, especially in the cases of the Stadbahn, and the bridges and locks along the Dunabe Canal. In a political struggle, Wagner surprised the Vienna community when he left the Kunsterhaus to join the Secessionists.
The two apartment complexes both built in the same period and in the center of Vienna were initially rejected as being hideous beyond measure.
These apartments rest side-by-side, and together form an incomparably unparalleled and detailed Secessionist wall, which separates the dwellings and shops from the street.
With a basic ironwork form, the two bottom floors are treated as a base which extends the presence of the shops up throughout the second level.
A visual gradation occurs through the application of Majolican tiles; very sparse near the green iron base, there is a gradual increase of complexity and density as the wall stretches upwards toward the roof, using colors from nature like reds and greens.
Lion heads sit in relief on the overhanging eave, and the two complexes are separated by their zone of balconies.
This style of "Viennese Secession" was marked by a characteristically revolutionary spirit of enlightenment, and was considered to be Art Nouveau even despite its flat and rectilinear shapes. Through Wagner's manipulation of static materials that were rich in color, the architect was able to retain traditional meanings of ornamentation.
Majolikahaus remains with its intentional program; it currently houses retail on the ground floor with apartments above.