Modernity, rushing towards him

July 13th is the 172nd birthday of Otto Wagner. Wagner is one of the first people to use the term “modern architecture,” although his work doesn’t embody the theoretical or stylistic connotations of that term. Nonetheless, he was more than aware of the strangeness of modernity.

wagner stadtbahn viaduct view sm

This rendering, published in the 1897 edition of Moderne Architektur is strikingly dense for what was, at the time, considered the uncultured work of an engineer. Wagner  and his studio produced incredible draftsmanship, but this rendering stands out because of its sheer uncanniness. Look at the two columns. One is stone, safe and solid. The other is cast iron, modern and delicate. A woman works, men turn their backs, and a locomotive of the Weiner Stadtbahn lurks. There are superhuman things and unseen layers to cities, a fact to be made beautiful.

After the break are two more under-appreciated projects of his, one for an asymmetrical bridge over a lock, and the other is the earliest architectural photomontage I am aware of, from 1906.

wagner nussdorf bridge drawing sm
wagner stadmuseum montage sm



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