Stonborough House, Paul Engelmann, Ludwig Wittgenstein, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac

Stonborough House by the Austrian architect Paul Engelmann and the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

I did this sketch of the Wittgenstein House on Wednesday 1st June 2005 in Vienna, Austria; as noted in my diary from my Europe trip. My diary entry for this day says:

“I got up at 0730 hrs and John and I went for breakfast together. We ran back to be here at 0900 hrs. Laugh!! Left hotel at 1030 hrs. Cantilevered roof of elevator on Albertina. Took photos of storefronts. Ate lunch @ Nordsee. Met a nice old lady at the restaurant. Christian byzantine building w/ bricks and gold arches. It is a greek orthodox church. Wagner’s Saving Bank. First Architect to use rivets as structure. Instead of just using the stones as the façade, he used the rivetting of the stones as the decoration to the facades. He was one of the first modern architects to design an entire block. Law office by Coop Himmelblau on corner of BiberstraBe and FalkestraBe. Hundertwasserhaus – colorful with vegetation. Vienna and Salzburg share Mozart. Water falling from the columns on bar in Hunderwasser.  Then went to building by Wittgenstein (the artist and philosopher). Chase complimented me saying that l have a unique talent when he looked at my drawing. I told him thanks and it meant a lot. We then went into the house and took pictures outside where in one picture we held our chins like Chase.”

I guess a lot happened on that day huh… See below for more information on the Wittengenstein House.

Haus Wittgenstein, also known as the Stonborough House and the Wittgenstein House is a house in the modernist style designed and built on the Kundmanngasse, Vienna, by the Austrian architect Paul Engelmann and the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. In November 1925, Wittgenstein’s sister Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein commissioned Engelmann to design and build a large town house. Wittgenstein showed a great interest in the project and in Engelmann’s plans, and spent at least two years designing various aspects of the house, including the doors, door knobs, windows, and radiators. Describing the work, Ludwig’s eldest sister, Hermine, wrote: “Even though I admired the house very much, I always knew that I neither wanted to, nor could, live in it myself. It seemed indeed to be much more a dwelling for the gods than for a small mortal like me” – Reference Wikipedia.

Wittgenstein House, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac

My photo of the Wittgenstein House in Vienna, Austria

Years later, in Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein wrote that “the human body is the best picture of the human soul.” As an architect, he believed that a house is, in a way, a picture of the human body that is to use it. His tacit philosophy of domestic architecture has been described by architectural historian Bernhard Leitner, who has studied the Wittgenstein House for more than thirty years, as “the house in motion,” which gives an immediate sense of the affinity between Wittgenstein, at least as an architect, and a philosophy of architecture grounded in Merleau-Ponty’s thought. The house in motion is the house in use. “Use,” Leitner explains, “is action such as opening a door, interlocking window-doors, or raising metal curtains.” That explains Wittgenstein’s obsessive attention to window locks, radiators, and the like. He is said to have spent a year designing the door handles.

Source: House in Use: Arthur C. Danto on Steven Holl’s New York University Department of Philosophy – Magazine article by Arthur C. Danto; Artforum International, Vol. 46, April 2008

Sketch something today!!

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This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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