Rebel Modernists: Viennese Architecture since Otto Wagner

Set within the fascinating cultural and political world of Vienna from the fin-de-siècle to the present day, Rebel Modernists: Viennese Architecture since Otto Wagner by Liane Lefaivre provides an insightful analysis of the city’s extraordinarily rich architectural tradition.

Despite being a small city, since 1900, Vienna has produced many great architects and their work includes some of the finest masterpieces of the twentieth century, beginning with Otto Wagner’s Stadtbahn stations, his Postsparkasse and his Majolica House.

Wagner, arguably the father of modernist architecture, was a great influence on his students Adolf Loos who would go on to design the American Bar as well as Joseph Maria Olbricht, whose crowning achievement was the Secession building.

Wagner was also already an advocate for anti-sprawl and pro-density housing, a stance which would later be replicated in the housing policies of social democratic Red Vienna in the 1920s, and in turn in the city’s approach to social housing, public transport and places today. Rebel Modernists gives an in depth discussion of the relatively unknown tradition of Viennese social housing, which has proved to be an important factor in stimulating the successful economy of the country as a whole.

In this post, we offer a sneak peek into this fascinating publication, which is beautifully illustrated with a wealth of visual materials.

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Otto Wagner’s Majolikahaus (1899). The façade is covered in small ceramic tiles, known as ‘majolica’ which form floral patterns

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The interior of Adolf Loos’ American bar (1908), featuring an infinity effect created by the mirrors on the upper parts of the walls.

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Children playing in the wading pool outside Fuchsenfeldhof, a social housing development in Vienna (1924).

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Architect Josef Frank’s idea of how the so-called Siedlungen, social housing settlements, ought to be furnished (1932).

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An aerial shot of Harry Glück’s Alt-Erlaa, one of the biggest housing complexes in Vienna.

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A night shot of social housing Bremer Stadtmusikanten (2010).


Rebel Modernists: Viennese Architecture Since Otto Wagner is available for purchase from our website.

To mark the publication of Liane Lefaivre’s Rebel Modernists, Viennese Architecture since Otto Wagner, the Austrian Cultural Forum will host an event: Social Housing in Vienna and London: A Discussion on Two Traditions, 14 June 2017, 7.30-9pm.

Part of the London Festival of Architecture, the event will feature a lecture by Liane Lefaivre followed by a round table discussion with Lefaivre alongside Professor Mark Swenarton, a leading expert on Camden’s golden age of social housing and Neave Brown, the architect of the much celebrated Alexandra Road. Chaired by Professor Murray Fraser of the Bartlett School, UCL, the event is free to attend.