Vienna, 27–30 May 2010
‘Ornament is key to Vienna. It is knitted into the fabric of the city and, as such, Vienna is widely considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. But beyond beauty, at the turn of the 20th Century, ornament in Vienna also played a vital role in the development of the modern movement in architecture. While Architects such as Otto Wagner reinterpreted ornament for the industrial age, Adolf Loos set about completely rejecting it, promoting the use of high-quality, unadorned building materials instead. In visiting Vienna for the first time, I was interested in exploring, experiencing and exposing the prevalence of architectural ornament. I wanted to understand the historical setting for such radical developments in architecture and question what role ornament plays in the 21st century.
‘Without going there, it is difficult to appreciate just how integral ornament is to Vienna, and any form of representation does not seem a suitable substitute. Therefore, in general, this project aims to present Viennese ornament isolated from its context, presented in the abstract in order to highlight the differing scales, material forms and graphic motifs.
‘In addition to the aesthetic qualities of ornament, there is often a tactile element. Ornament can be engraved, sculpted, moulded, cast, embossed, and in this way becomes tangible. As a way to document this aspect, and present my experience at a 1:1 scale, brass rubbings were taken wherever possible.
‘Vienna is also famous for its café culture – cakes and coffee. In these timeless interiors, life moves slowly. In an attempt to capture this celebrated side of Vienna, I produced a few sketches showing some key aspects of these unique spaces.’
Tom McGlynn grew up, lives and works in London. Now a fully-qualified architect, he studied at Cambridge University, The Bartlett and Westminster. During his career, he has worked for a number of award-winning, design-led practices, most notably Riches Hawley Mikhail Architects and DSDHA, where he was Project Architect for a new school in Guildford. The building won an RIBA Award and was the ‘Supreme Winner’ at the Brick Awards in 2009. Currently Tom is employed at David Kohn Architects, winner of Young Architect of the Year 2009.
Tom has a keen interest in graphics, having designed flyers for a London club night and worked on the wayfinding and signage package for two schools in Guildford. At The Bartlett, Tom produced a thesis called The Role of Ornament in Architecture, from Arts-and-Crafts to Modern Day and, through the Field Trip to Vienna, he hopes to develop some of the themes explored in this work.