Otto Wagner’s Postal Savings Bank building (Postsparkassengebäude) is widely seen as a key work of European modernist architecture and fin-de-siècle Vienna. The building was constructed and subsequently expanded between 1904 and 1912. It is one of Wagner’s most famous and modern masterpieces, combining practical functionality with aesthetic aspiration in every element of the building and its interior design, true to his claim that ‘something impractical can never be aesthetically pleasing’.
Besides the combination of function and beauty that defined his architectural approach, a remarkable aspect of the Österreichische Postsparkasse is the symbolic nature of its details. The fact, for instance, that the square plates used to line the façade are secured into place using iron bolts with aluminium caps is more than a technical necessity or mere embellishment. Indeed, what symbol could better illustrate the safekeeping of cash than a metal-clad treasure chest?