Purkersdorf Sanatorium

Austria

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A building at the outskirts of Vienna paved the way for modern architecture! The most important work from the cubistic-geometric phase of the Viennese Jugendstil was this revolutionary building in its clear disposition and formal development and last but not least the simplicity of its construction. It was the first large commission for Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstaette and came about through the acquaintance of the architect with the art critic Berta Zuckerkandl. She, as a supporter of the Secession and admirer of Josef Hoffmann recommended him to the builder, her brother in law Victor Zuckerkandl, an industrialist from Silesia. Zuckerkandl purchased this area as a spa together with spa gardens which it was before in the 19th century when the so called "Laura-well" was developed by Dr. Löw. Hoffmanns original plan showed that he was inclined to take more radical advantage of new construction techniques than was actually possible in practice. Decoration was used sparingly on the building. As with the outside so the inside is convincing with its simplicity of concept and execution. Hoffmann made use of the most modern available techniques - reinforced concrete - when building the Sanatorium. Decoration outside the building is extremely discreet. Inside there are fascinating contrasts between the severity of the architecture and the more decorated interior. The intended purpose of the Sanatorium pulled for a level of hygienic sobriety which helped Hoffmann in his design. Not only architectural importance and matters of art history has to be mentioned at this building, it was also a meeting point for the high society. The Sanatorium was designed for a wealthy circle of patients, dedicated to the highest levels of comfort and luxury. Up to the worldwide economic crisis in 1929 Purkersdorf was visited by upperclass clientele and intelligentsia: Mahler, Hoffmannsthal, Schönberg and Schnitzler were there, but also Indian Maharadschas and millionaires of dollars.
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