Modern Architecture in Vienna

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Course Information
Art History
Terms offered: 
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 




The objective of this course is to provide an overview of the main ideas in modern Viennese architecture. The course will focus on architectural ideas and social concepts in architecture that were invented in modern Vienna (starting with Loos, Wagner, Sitte, Holzmeister, Hollein, Hundertwasser, Feuerstein, to contemporary architects such as Coop Himmelb(l)au, Krischanitz, Delugan-Meissl and others) and that have influenced the international architectural discourse.

Rather than a chronological survey, the course will be organized thematically, with numerous examples drawn from early modernism up to contemporary practice. Even today the most challenging examples of Viennese architecture and city planning (Frauenwerkstatt, Miss Sargfabrik, Gürtelbögen, Pilotengasse, Flugfeld Aspern etc.) derive their tone and ethos from the heady years of the 1910s and 20s, when manifestos circulated in Vienna among young artists and architects and sponsored ambitious architectural projects such as Karl Marx Hof, the Einküchenhaus Heimhof or the large Gänsehäufl baths, to name but a few.

Course work involves analysis, interpretation and written assignments of 20th century theories and buildings in Vienna. Selection of buildings varies from semester to semester. Site visits and field study included.


Attendance policy: 

Attendance at lectures and tours is mandatory (see Vienna attendance policy in your Vienna Student Handbook).

Learning outcomes: 

The student will learn the vocabulary and the general debates on contemporary architecture. Viennese examples are examined in detail in order to illustrate the influence of social, political and economic factors on the formation of the built environment as well as its effects. Through site visits, sketching and analysis, as well as ensuing discussions, the student will gain skills to actively conceptualize architectural and urbanistic issues. In composing a term paper, the student will synthesize different representations and perspectives together and reach a profound understanding of architecture.

Method of presentation: 
  • Lectures with powerpoints
  • Discussion of texts and buildings
  • Site visits


Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Class participation -10%
  • Sketch book -10%
  • 10-page term paper - 30%
  • 1-hour written midterm examination - 20%
  • 1,5-hour written final examination - 30%

Sketch book: To record the site visits - with annotated survey drawings, and notes on first impressions and for use in class. Students will develop drawing, observation, and visualization skills.

Term paper: The qualifying paper is a short scholarly work of original research and analysis. It is expected to be approximately ten pages long, plus notes and bibliography. The paper develops and expands information and ideas already examined in class.



1. Introduction: Architecture vs. Building. Recitation: Representations of Architecture  
2. Architecture and Morality: Sensuality vs. Puritanism

BEHF, Hollein, Clemens Kirsch, Krischanitz, Querkraft, Rataplan, Steinmayr & Mascher

3. Mask and the Metropolis

Postsparkasse, Plecnik, Wienzeile

4.Ornament and Crime

Michaelerplatz, American Bar, Kleines Café

5. Language Games

Excursion: Palais Wittgenstein

6. Midterm  
7. Panopticon vs Panorama

Ringstrasse, Kirche am Steinhof, Narrenturm

8. City as a Battlefield

Karl-Marx-Hof, Werkbundsiedlung, Gänsehäufl, Schrebergärten, Selbstversorgersiedlung

9. Architecture of Social Democracy

Sargfabrik, Kabelwerk, FrauenWerkStadt, Pilotengasse, Gasometer, RoSa

10. Carneval Culture

Prater, Dogenhof, Hundertwasserhaus, Donauinsel, Badeschiff, Haus des Meeres

11. The Duck, the Shed, and the Cell Phone

Media Tower, Uniqa, Nouvel

12.  Final Exam  


Required readings: 

(assigned from)

1.Jormakka & Kuhlmann, Lost in Space, Skriptum TU Wien 2007; Arthur C. Danto, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace : a Philosophy of Art, Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1981

2.David Watkin, Morality and Architecture Revisited, Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2001; Carl E. Schorske, Fin de Siecle Vienna. Politics and Culture, New York: Vintage Books 1981.

3.Gottfried Semper, “Der Stil” in Fritz Neumeyer (Ed.), Quellentexte zur Architekturtheorie ,

München, Berlin, New York: Prestel Verlag, 2002, p. 248-271; Otto Wagner, Modern Architecture. Reprint of the Edition of 1902. Santa Monica: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities 1988

4.Adolf Loos,”Ornament and Crime” in Ulrich Conrads (Ed.), Programs and Manifestos on 20th century Architecture, Cambridge, London: MIT Press 1989, p.19-25. Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Modern Life” in Kurt H. Wolff, The Sociology of Georg Simmel, New York: The Free Press 1950, p.409-424; Beatriz Colomina, “Interior” in Colomina ,Privacy and Publicity. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press1994, p.232-281

5.Allan Janik & Stephen Toulmin, Wittgenstein’s Vienna. New York: Simon and Shuster 1973, p.67-



7.Camillo SItte, „Der Städtebau nach seinen künstlerischen Grundsätzen (1889) in Fritz Neumeyer

(Ed.), Quellentexte zur Architekturtheorie , München, Berlin, New York: Prestel Verlag, 2002, p.

300-317, Anthony Vidler, “Urban Anxiety and Urban Design” in Datutop 27: The Art of the City, University of Technology Tampere, 2005, p. 108-121; Kari Jormakka, "The View from the Tower"; in Datutop 27: The Art of the City, University of Technology Tampere, 2005, p.122-141.

8.Eve Blau, The architecture of Red Vienna, 1919-1934, Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, c1999, Luise Lipschitz and Bertha Blaschke, Architecture in Vienna 1850-1930: Historicism, Jugendstil, New Realism. Wien: Springer Verlag, 2002, Wolfgang Foerster, 80 years of Social Housing, in (September 7, 2010)

9.W. Foerster et al (Ed), Housing in Vienna, Innovative, Social and Ecological.Vienna: Exhibition

Catalogue AZW, 2008

10. Koolhaas, Junkspace. Sze Tsung Leong, “And then there was shopping” in Koolhaas et al (Ed.), Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping, Koeln: Taschen Verlag 2001, p.129-155, F. Hundertwasser, “Mould Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture” in Ulrich Conrads (Ed.), Programs and Manifestos on 20th century Architecture, Cambridge, London: MIT Press 1989, p.157-160.

11. Antti Ahlava, Architecture in Consumer Society, Helsinki: University of Art and Design Pub. 2002, Ventury, Scott-Brown, Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press 2000, Jon Godbun, “Public Private Pedestrianship in Las Vegas. Towards a Critical Experiantalism of the Inhabitable Image” in Karin Jascheke/ Silke Ötsch, Stripping Las Vegas. A Contextual Review of Casino Resort Architecture, Weimar: University of Weimar Press 2004, p. 153-170.