Otto Wagner Houses

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Otto Wagner Houses

The apartment houses that line the Wienzeile are an attractive, if rather ordinary, lot, but two stand out: Linke Wienzeile 38 and 40 —the latter better known as the "Majolica House"—designed (1898–99) by the grand old man of Viennese fin-de-siècle architecture, Otto Wagner. A good example of what Wagner was rebelling against can be seen next door, at Linke Wienzeile 42, where decorative enthusiasm has blossomed into baroque-revival hysteria. Wagner banished classical decoration and introduced a new architectural simplicity, with flat exterior walls and plain, regular window treatments meant to reflect the orderly layout of the apartments behind them. There the simplicity ended. For exterior decoration, he turned to his younger Secessionist cohorts Joseph Olbrich and Koloman Moser, who designed the ornate Jugendstil patterns of red-majolica-tile roses (No. 40) and gold stucco medallions (No. 38) that gloriously brighten the facades of the adjacent house—so much so that their baroque-period neighbor is ignored. The houses are privately owned.

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