How was Ludwig Wittgenstein's architecture

Ludwig Wittgenstein


District Museum Landstrasse

Personal data
Training, study trips, international stays
Professional career, teaching activity
Awards and offices
Vita
Status
Works
Primary sources
Secondary sources
Exhibitions
Personal communications
Remarks
Personal data
* 26.04.1889 - † 29.04.1951
Gender M
Place of birth: Vienna
former name: Neuwaldegg, Lower Austria
Country: Austria
former name: Austria-Hungary
Place of death: Cambridge
Country: Great Britain
Confession of religion: Rom. - Cath.
Job title: philosopher, elementary school teacher and architect
Family environment: Father: Karl W. (1847-1913), industrialist
Mother: Leopoldine, née Kalmus (1850-1926)
Brother Paul W. (1887-1961), pianist
irreproachable
Top
Training, study trips, international stays
n.d.Realschule Linz
1906-1910Studied mechanical engineering at the Technical Universities of Berlin-Charlottenburg and Manchester
1912-1914Studied philosophy at Cambridge
1914-1918military service
1919-1921Training to become a primary school teacher
Top
Professional career, teaching activity
1921-1926Elementary school teacher
1926-1928active as an architect in Vienna
1929-1938Lecturer at Cambridge
1939-1947Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge
Top
Awards and offices
1917Large silver medal for bravery
Top
Vita
Ludwig Wittgenstein was born as the eighth and youngest child of the industrialist Karl Wittgenstein. The Jewish family, originally from Germany, had been assimilated for three generations and were considered one of the richest in the Danube monarchy. At the request of his father, Wittgenstein first studied mechanical engineering, but after his death devoted himself to studying philosophy in Cambridge, where he became a student of Bertrand Russell. During his vacation in Vienna, he came into contact with the circle of artists around Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos, who influenced him greatly in his aesthetic categories.

When the First World War broke out, he broke off his studies and volunteered. Already during the war he introduced the Loos student Paul Engelmann to his family as house architect for various conversions. During his vacations from the front, he wrote the transcript of his main work, the "Tractatus logico-philosophicus". At the end of the war, Wittgenstein, who had made it a highly decorated officer, was taken prisoner in Italy.

Under the influence of the war events, Wittgenstein renounced his fortune in the early 1920s and became a primary school teacher. When he had to quit this job after a few years due to various unfortunate incidents, he took the opportunity to take part in the construction of a city palace in Vienna-Landstrasse for his sister Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein worked on this project for more than two years.

Towards the end of the 1920s, Wittgenstein resumed his scientific career and went to Cambridge, where he stayed until the end of his life. There he received a teaching position for philosophy, which was later converted into a professorship. During the Second World War he also worked briefly as a nurse. Due to his precarious health condition, Wittgenstein withdrew prematurely from teaching at the end of the 1940s and died of cancer at the age of 62. Most of his philosophical writings were only published posthumously.
Top
Status
Ludwig Wittgenstein, who is regarded as one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, also went down in history as an architect due to his work on the so-called Wittgenstein House, whereby his architectural work is often interpreted as the implementation of his philosophical thought structure.

Wittgenstein was very interested in architecture and especially in Adolf Loos (to whom he bequeathed a generous financial legacy as part of his inheritance) and his theories. Wittgenstein dared his first attempts in this area shortly before the First World War when he planned a simple house for himself in Skjolden, Norway, and after the death of his father worked on a design for the new family crypt at Vienna's central cemetery.

When Wittgenstein participated in the project of a city palace for his sister Margaret Stonborough in Vienna 3, Kundmanngasse 19 in the mid-1920s, his mathematical competence and his training as a mechanical engineer made it easier for him to access architecture. He also referred to himself explicitly as an “architect” on the head of his stationery. Together with the Loos student Paul Engelmann, who had already done essential preparatory work, he designed the "Wittgenstein House" in the sense of the aesthetic categories of Adolf Loos and the rationalistic logic of his own philosophy. The construction engineer Jacques Groag was also involved in the practical implementation, especially the demanding concrete structure.

The building, which is cube-shaped towards the outside and whose proportions correspond to perfect harmony, was created in a difficult creative process. The extremely complex room arrangement represented a synthesis of the theories put forward by Loos and the structures of a Wilhelminian-style palace. In addition to the purely architectural design, Wittgenstein also dealt in particular with the planning of the elaborate metal doors and windows as well as the radiators and the installation of a lift. The original idea that he should also design the furniture was no longer realized due to financial problems.

Wittgenstein was later no longer active as an architect, apart from a design for his own simple tombstone. After leaving Vienna, he devoted himself exclusively to his philosophical studies, but - as far as his lectures on aesthetics were concerned - continued to be strongly influenced by the ideas of Adolf Loos.
Top
Works

RESIDENTIAL / COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS:
1914-1921House in Skjolden, NOR
1926-1928Palais Stonborough (Wittgenstein House), Vienna 3, Kundmanng. 19 (with Paul Engelmann and Jacques Groag)

PUBLIC BUILDINGS:
1914Tomb of the Wittgenstein family, Vienna 11, Central Cemetery (with Robert Oerley)
around 1950Gravestone Ludwig Wittgenstein, Cambridge, U.K.
Top
Primary sources

PUBLICATIONS:
L. Wittgenstein: Tractatus logico-philosophicus, 1921 (various editions)
L. Wittgenstein: Dictionary for elementary schools. Vienna 1926
L. Wittgenstein: Philosophical investigations (Ed. G. Anscombe). Oxford 1953
L. Wittgenstein: Philosophical grammar (Ed. R. Rees). Frankfurt / M 1969
L. Wittgenstein: Lectures and discussions on aesthetics, psychology and religion (Ed. C. Barret). Goettingen 1971
L. Wittgenstein: Comments on the foundations of mathematics (Ed. G. Anscombe). Frankfurt / M 1974
L. Wittgenstein: Comments on colors (Ed. G. Anscombe). Frankfurt / M 1979
L. Wittgenstein: Geheime Tagebücher 1914-1916 (Ed. W. Braun). Vienna 1991

ESTATE AND ARCHIVES:
ÖNB; Wittgenstein Archive Cambridge; Brenner Archive Innsbruck
Top
Secondary sources

LITERATURE:
W. Hoffmann: Ludwig Wittgenstein, a philosopher as an architect. In: Der Bau 24.1969, p.3ff
A. Janik / S. Toulmin: Wittgenstein’s Vienna. New York 1973 (German: Vienna 1984)
A. Janik / H. Veigl: Wittgenstein in Vienna. Vienna / New York 1998
O. Kapfinger: House Wittgenstein. Vienna 1984
B. Leitner: The architecture of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Halifax 1973
B. Leitner: The Wittgenstein House. Ostfildern-Ruit 2000
Ludwig Wittgenstein (exhib.cat.). Vienna 1989
B. McGuiness: Wittgenstein's Early Years. Frankfurt / M 1992
R. Monk: The craft of genius. Stuttgart 1992
M. Nedo / M. Ranchetti: Ludwig Wittgenstein, his life in texts and pictures. Frankfurt / M 1983
U. Prokop: Margaret Wittgenstein-Stonborough. Vienna 2003
P. Wijdeveldt: Ludwig Wittgenstein, architect. Amsterdam 1994

REFERENCE BOOKS:
Achl. III / 1; Dehio 2

LEXICA:
Czeike 5; OIL 2
Brockhaus Volume 24 1996; DBE volume 10 1999; Meyer's encyclopedia Lexicon, Vol. 25 1975

INTERNET LINKS:
www.biographie.net/de
Top
Exhibitions
1989Ludwig Wittgenstein, Secession, Vienna
Top
Personal communications
Major John Stonborough + (Glendon, GB)
Top
Remarks
Submitted by: Ursula Prokop
Submitted on: 01.11.2005
Last modified: 02/16/2007
Top