The Postal Savings Bank building was planned by Otto Wagner, the visionary pioneer of Modernism, and was constructed from 1904 to 1906 and also from 1910 to 1912.

Otto Wagner’s Postsparkasse building, owned by SIGNA since the end of 2013, is a world-famous architectural icon alongside Vienna’s most important buildings. It is considered a milestone on the path from historicism to modernity. Built in two phases between 1904 and 1912, Wagner (1841-1918) created one of the most important buildings whose essential elements, from the façade to the interior design, combine functionality with aesthetics according to the vision that “something impractical can never be beautiful”.

The establishment of a business model of the Österreichische Postsparkasse (founded by Georg Coch in 1883) with a network of branch offices and the growth associated with this model made it necessary to relocate to a larger building. An open competition for the Imperial and Royal Postsparkasse office building was announced in February 1903. After three jury sessions, in which 37 projects were assessed, Otto Wagner’s design was quickly chosen as the winner. “It’s odd how well the people fit in,” Emperor Franz Joseph, who usually preferred the classical Ringstraße architecture, is reported to have said at the opening of the large main hall in 1906.

 

© Stefan Seelig

Otto Wagner is known for combining a high aesthetic standard with functionality. For the Postsparkasse building, he opted for a spatial concept that went outside common conventions, particularly with its light-flooded counter hall. He used aluminium, a new material at the time, for the interior and exterior. The easily visible rivet heads on the marble slabs on the outer façade have no structural function. Wagner chose them simply for their look. At the time, this represented a break with conventional values. The façade’s design also conveys a symbolic message: an iron-clad treasure chest, an archetypal icon of safely storing money.

The Austrian Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG) signed a 99-year building lease agreement for the Postsparkasse building in November 2019. SIGNA continues to be the owner of the building. BIG will rent the Postsparkasse building out to universities and other educational institutions.