Among the many reasons you could choose to visit Vienna tomorrow, its architecture should be on top of the list. With a rich past and truly remarkable legacy, it comes as no surprise the variety of buildings one can find in the Austrian capital. Brand new buildings compete with decadent structures which get more beautiful every year.
This vibrant city has superb architecture and today’s post is all about it. If you are planning a trip to Vienna soon, continue reading.
My favorite is #23, yours?
Architect: Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Joseph Krawina and Peter Pelikan
Location: Kegelgasse 36-38, 1030 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: Probably my favorite spot in Vienna, Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment complex that features a very organic design, with its uneven floors and plentiful flora. Anyone who lives in the Hundertwasser House also has the right to decorate the façade around the windows entirely to their own taste. Its roof is covered in grass and trees are grown from within, their limbs extending from the windows. There are 52 apartments, four offices, 16 private terraces and three communal terraces, and a total of 250 trees and bushes. Read more here.
2. Wotruba Church
Architect: Fritz Wotrub
Location: 1230 Vienna, Austria (Google)
Description: One of the most remarkable things about this church is that it was conceived as a sculpture, hence the formal approach. This seemingly random stack of 152 concrete elements stands simultaneously in harmony and in contrast with its context. The ambition of Wotruba to “design something that shows that poverty does not have to be ugly, that renunciation may be in an environment that is beautiful despite the greatest simplicity and makes you happy” is a beautiful goal. Read more here.
3. Gasometers of Vienna
Architect: Coop Himmelb(l)au, Jean Nouvel, Manfred Wehdorn and Wilhelm Holzbauer
Location: Guglgasse 6, 1110 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: Since the end of the 1990s, four teams of star architects have been working on converting four 112-year-old gasometers into a new urban complex. The Gasometers of Vienna date back to 1896 when Viennese authorities decided it was time to invest in large-scale gas and electric utilities. In just three years, the city built Europe’s largest gas plant (which included the four gasometers) and laid more than 500 km (300 miles) of gas lines. The refurbishment will make your jaws drop. Read more here.
4. Library and Learning Centre University of Economics
Architect: Zaha Hadid
Location: Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: The library and learning centre is one of seven buildings that make up a new campus at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien). The aim of the functional plan is to clearly define the different areas of the building. The plan is translated into a three-dimensional object which outlines the space around the central atrium, the corridors and the canyons. Read more here.
5. Judenplatz Schoa Memorial
Architect: Rachel Whiteread
Location: Judenpl., 1010 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: The concept of this memorial is quite significant, the reinforced concrete cube resembling a library has its volumes turned inside out. Therefore the titles of the volumes are unknown and the content of the books remains unrevealed. The shelves of the memorial appear to hold endless copies of the same edition, which stand for the vast number of the victims, as well as the concept of Jews as “People of the Book”. The tiles set into the ground around the memorial bear the names of the places where Austrian Jews lost their lives during the Nazi period. Read more here.
6. Sofitel Vienna
Architect: Jean Nouvel
Location: Praterstraße 1, 1020 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: Situated on the banks of the Danube river this new building is a steep tower built upon a glass base that contrasts against the silhouette of the old town. Some argue that the design is in dangerous route between ugliness, surprise and novelty. The highlight however is up on the 18th floor. The restaurant/bar sits under a canopy decorated by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist. Read more here.
7. St. Rupert’s Church
Location: Ruprechtspl. 1, 1010 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: The St. Ruprecht’s church is the oldest church in Vienna. Legend has it was founded in the year 740 by two monks from Salzburg, named Chuniald and Gislar. The earliest documented evidence is from 1200. How unique is that? The tower was built in the traditional Romanesque style including the typical double windows. After a massive fire damaged almost all of inner city Vienna in 1276, the church was rebuilt in Gothic style. Read more here.
8. DC Towers I
Architect: Dominique Perrault Architecture
Location: Donau-City-Straße 7, 1220 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: French firm Dominique Perrault Architecture completed a 220-metre skyscraper with a folded glass facade which has now become Austria’s tallest building. DC Tower 1 was created by Dominique Perrault Architecture for a site on the eastern bank of the Danube, where it will be joined in 2016 by a smaller facing tower with a facade that will appear to mirror its undulating surface. Read more here.
9. WU Executive Academy
Architect: NO.MAD Arquitectos
Location: Welthandelsplatz 1 1, 1020 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: The WU Executive Academy is part of the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) and its building concept it’s among the most difficult to understand on campus. The plan is quite mental. If you are looking for a simpler reason to admire the building, I’ll add that “it retains a bi-material character to the outside with an aluminum skin that reflects the movement of clouds under various lighting conditions and transparent or mirrored glass”. Read more here.
Architect: Friedrich von Schmidt
Location: Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz 1, 1010 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: The Rathaus is the place where the city′s council meets and also the mayor of Vienna. The building itself is a rather peculiar mix of historicist styles and impressions: Its architecture embraces elements from neo-Gothic styles, but also from Baroque and other periods. In my opinion, it’s one of the most well-proportionate and beautiful buildings in the capital. Read more here.
11. St. Peter’s Church
Architect: Gabriele Montani
Location: Peterspl. 1, 1010 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: The Peterskirche is the second-oldest church in Vienna (see point 7) and the city’s finest example of Baroque church architecture. St. Peter’s is thought to occupy the oldest Christian sacred site in Vienna, as a church has stood here since the second half of the 4th century. According to legend, Charlemagne founded a larger church here in 792. The site is famous for its concerts so if you can, be delighted by its musical events. Read more here.
12. Spittelau District Heating Plant
Architect: Friedensreich Hundertwasser
Location: Spittelauer Lände 45, 1090 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: Another intriguing piece by Hundertwasser, this converted heating plant. The Spittelau waste incineration plant, whose façade was redesigned and given its present colorful, irregular structures by eco-architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser following a major fire in 1989. Since then, the former utility building has combined the topics of waste, energy and art in a fascinating way. Read more here.
13. Albertina Museum
Architect: Louis de Montoyer and Joseph Kornhäusl
Location: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: There are quite a lot of good museums in Vienna, being the Albertina my favorite. It was erected on one of the last remaining sections of the fortifications of Vienna, the Augustinian Bastion. Originally, the Hofbauamt (Court Construction Office), which had been built in the 17th century, stood in that location. It houses one of the largest and most important print rooms in the world with approximately 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings. The second best is mumok. Read more here.
14. Vienna Twin Towers
Location: Vienna Twin Tower, Wienerbergstraße 11, 1100 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: I think it’s quite hilarious that being Fuksas an Italian firm, the majority of their projects are not located in Italy. The towers, that have respectively 37 and 34 floors, welcome those who arrive in Vienna from the South. They aren’t parallel nor perpendicular, but put obliquely to one another, connected by a series of bridges irregularly positioned at various heights. Fuksas’ intention was to give dynamism to the construction: “… for those arriving from the South and running along this area by car, the towers always occur with a different look. They’re never still or incumbent”. Read more here.
15. St. Francis of Assisi Church
Architect: Victor Luntz
Location: Mexikopl. 12, 1020 Wien-Leopoldstadt, Austria (Google)
Description: The church is one of the most beautiful churches in Vienna and from a distance it looks more like a fairytale castle. The construction of the church celebrated the 50th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. In 1898, the Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni assassinated the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, Empress Elisabeth of Austria (commonly referred to as Sisi). To commemorate her, the Elisabethkapelle was established. It was financed through donations from the Red Cross, as Empress Elisabeth was the first Protector of the Red Cross. Read more here.
16. Majolica House
Architect: Otto Wagner
Location: Linke Wienzeile 40, 1060 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: Otto Wagner has designed many good buildings in Vienna such as Postal Office Savings Bank Building and Viennese Wiener Stadtbahn. However, I think the Majolica House is his most sensible artwork. The so-called Majolica House, was named after the flowered tile which covers the magnificent facade. There is a gradation of detail and color from the bottom to the top with the green iron base, a gradual increase in complexity of the floral pattern from red to green toward to roof, finally capped with lion heads in relief and an elaborate overhanging eave. Read more here.
17. Opera House
Architect: Eduard van der Müll and August Sicard von Sicardsburg
Location: Opernring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: Majestically gracing the Ring Boulevard, the Vienna State Opera is indisputably one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world. It reopened in 1955 following devastation in World War II and it offers its international audiences top-caliber music theater on some 300 days a year. My favorite thing about this lively building is how people gather around the outside screen to enjoy the delightful performance. Read more here.
Architect: Peter Müllner and Theophil Hansen
Location: Fleischmarkt 13, 1010 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: It was a beautiful surprise discovering this church by accident while wandering Vienna. Greek Orthodox churches have existed near this site since 1787, as a result of the 1781 Patent of Toleration issued by Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor. It’s never open (or at least I never found it open), but its beautiful exterior would be enough reason to visit and sketch the impressive façade. Read more here.
19. Refer and Steiner Houses
Architect: Adolf Loos
Location: St. -Veit-Gasse, 1130 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: Loos was still starting his career in 1910 when he designed and constructed the Steiner house. This design was much better accepted than Loos’ earlier works and quickly became a worldwide example of rationalist architecture. It’s more than one hundred years that these are built which make them even more interesting for a visit. Read more here.
20. Spittelau Viaducts
Architect: Zaha Hadid
Location: Spittelauer Lände, 1090 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: The project is part of a revitalization initiative undertaken by the City of Vienna for the Wiener Gürtel area. A series of government subsidized apartments, offices and artist’s studios weave like a ribbon through, around and over the arched bays of the historic brick viaduct an unused railway viaduct but a protected structure, designed by Otto Wagner (part of his urban transport project completed 1901). Read more here.
21. Vienna University’s Law Buildings
Architect: CRAB studio
Location: WU Campus, 1020 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: Don’t let the childish color pattern put you off, the scheme, made up of two long buildings which frame a central plaza, is quite serious and effective. It connects the site within the urban landscape in an original way. Elevations are clad in locally sourced timber louvers, protecting the internal volumes from the sun, and reflecting the university’s woodland setting. Over time the structure will be covered in natural vegetation, allowing the design to become part of the surrounding environment. Read more here.
22. Flakturm Nazi Tower
Location: Augarten, 1020 Vienna, Austria (Google)
Description: This is one of the three surviving large, above-ground, anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers constructed by Nazi Germany from 1940 onwards. The towers were used by the Luftwaffe to defend against Allied air raids against these cities during World War II. They also served as air-raid shelters for tens of thousands of local civilians. The fact that it’s integrated in a healthy and green area is a victory itself, and that’s why you should visit. Read more here.
23. St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Architect: Anton Pilgram
Location: Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Wien, Austria (Google)
Description: No, I didn’t forget about Vienna’s most loved building. For more than 700 years now, the magnificent cathedral has stood watch over the city, and Austrians see it as one of the most important and most beloved landmarks of the country. Climb the 343 steps up to the tower and enjoy a breathtaking view of the city. Read more here.