Fascination that Lasts

architect Jože Plečnik
project Zacherl House, Vienna, Austria
written by Vera Grimmer


Dear and respected Mr. Plečnik,

I saw the House. Indescribable is the impression of this noble, simple, yet mysterious fortress of the gods, a modern habitable Walhalla, in the midst of thousands of paper rental houses. It acted on me like some tragic, grandiose epic. So unbelievable is the strength with which it interrupts and destroys all conventions; with powerful, heavy tones it announces the new order of the world. Culture extends its hands to nature. This is my dreamed house. It is the fulfillment of all my dreams of architecture. This house should be inhabited by Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Schubert, Ibsen, Maeterlinck, Ionas Lie, Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Maxim Gorky.

A letter by Peter Altenberg to Plečnik, written at the Café Zentral in Vienna in 1905


The letter of Viennese poet Peter Altenberg (the very same who introduced Zlatko Neumann to Adolf Loos) is an expression of euphoric admiration, all the more important as he was a very close friend of Loos, so we are allowed to think that Loos was fond of the then newest Viennese creation of the young Slovenian architect. However, there were also negative reactions from critics who could understand neither a departure from the classical order nor the strangeness and mystery of the gleaming granite mansion near the heart of the city – St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Even in the satirical magazine Peanuts from April 1905 appeared a contemptuous caricature titled, The Highest Chestnut Vendor in Vienna