Eliasson’s Fog Engulfs Vienna Building

[image by Rupert Steiner, via anArchitecture]

Olafur Eliasson’s Yellowfog debuts today in Vienna on the facade of its new home, Verbund’s Am Hof building. Yellowfog was originally installed at the Jewish Museum in New York way back in 1999, where it was meant to evoke the Icelandic artist’s homeland, but I prefer to think that the building is slowly—and beautifully—dissolving in some sort of fantastical toxic haze. No stranger to architectural collaboration and intervention, Eliasson has previously worked with architects such as David Adjaye and Snohetta.

&#183 Eliasson Artwork in Vienna [anArchitecture]
&#183 Eliasson Pavilions [Life Without Buildings]

Otto Wagner and the Millennium Falcon

The Millennium Falcon. As Han Solo’s ship, it played a crucial role in the victory of The Rebellion over the Empire in the Star Wars films. Imagine my shock when I saw the infamous smuggling vessel in the pages of an architecture book about banks. A quick visit to “Wookieepedia” tells us that prop designer Ralph McQuarrie based the design of the Millennium Falcon on a “half-eaten hamburger next to an olive on a toothpick held by George Lucas.” However, I’m more inclined to believe he was flipping through the pages of an Otto Wagner book and came across his 1880 design for the central offices of the Vienna Giro und Kassenverein competition. Behold, the first and only piece of evidence to support this theory:

On the left, Wagner’s plan and on the right, a line drawing of the Millennium Falcon. Sure, it could just be a coincidence that a prop designer, inspired by a random grouping of hamburger, olives, and George Lucas’s fingers, recreated an unbuilt design by one of the fathers of the Vienna Secession, but the damning evidence that surely proves otherwise is the off-center cockpit (to the right in the Wagner scheme and on the left of the MF). The rounded-off appendage is just too quirky a design anomaly in both schemes — and so similarly located. Whereas the Falcon consists of multiple hidden compartments and complex passages for a network of hacked-together electrical wiring, Wagner’s design consists of a circular lobby leading to a grand processional route that culminates in a semi-circular bank of tellers’ desks and bank offices. The plan’s unique form was a response to the awkward site, and although the proposal did NOT win, Wagner was able to adapt the plan for use at the Landerbank, also in Vienna:


So now two questions remain: 1) What other proto-modern buildings have inspired starship schematics? 2) If Wagner’s bank was built, could it have made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs?

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"Ornament is a Crime." (as is photography, apparently)

Adolf Loos’ Villa Moller. If you should ever visit this icon of modernism, whatever you do, don’t take a picture! See that little guard booth on the right? The sole purpose of that lone protector is to prevent people from taking photos of the house. (As I learned soon after snapping these) However, the guard was very apologetic and assured us that there were many books with great pictures of the building.

We ventured out into the suburbs of Vienna to find this place, and unfortunately didn’t plan ahead enough to schedule some sort of interior tour…actually, i’m not even sure thats possible for single visitors. Nonetheless, the house was very impressive. Much more beautiful in person that in textbook photos. I’ve always loved what Loos does with his interiors, but I’ve never quite been sold on the complete abandonment of exterior ornament. Until now. To drastically oversimplify, the Moller House just works. It’s beatiful, serene, balanced… Looking at the building, I felt like Loos exploited my subconscious understanding of beauty and harmony.

As we walked through the neighborhood, it was impossible not to notice the number of Loos-alikes scattered amongst the traditional viennese houses. Most were awful, and looked like they might’ve been built in the 70’s or 80’s, but it was nice to see how one architect and one building can make such an impact, especially in a city as conservative as vienna. So even though these moderish-mishaps were less appealing, they were nonethess encouraging.