Austrian Postal Savings Bank

Vienna, Austria | C.1906

Photo Credit: @emilie.qsn

“What is impractical can never be beautiful” is a quote attributed to the Austrian architect Otto Wagner, creator of the famous Austrian Postal Savings Bank. The design of this bank was revolutionary when it was unveiled in 1906.

Occupying an entire city block, this massive structure was built seven stories high with reinforced concrete. Its simplified exterior composed of brick and mortar with decorative marble panels and iron bolts seamlessly blends form and function. The utilitarian values of Otto Wagner are even more apparent in the main atrium, pictured above, which features massive glass skylights that flood the interior with natural light.

The inside of the bank was built with materials that emphasize durability and functionality. Wagner intended to craft a structure that required minimal daily cleaning and much less maintenance than buildings of similar size. The marble walls fastened by metal bolts never need to be painted, and the porcelain and linoleum floors were laid over asphalt to create easily-cleaned, long-lasting surfaces.

The Postal Savings Bank survived World War II without being even slightly damaged. The building is still in its original state and today features a museum dedicated to the life and work of Otto Wagner.

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