WAGNER, Otto
(b. 1841, Penzing, d. 1918, Wien)

Kirche am Steinhof: interior

1904-07
Photo
Baumgartner Höhe 1, Penzing, Vienna

Otto Wagner incorporated numerous features specifically related to the church's function within an asylum: e.g. there are very few sharp edges and most corners are rounded; almost no crosses are visible; the priest's area is potentially entirely separate from the patients'; access to the pulpit is only from the vestry; emergency exits are built into the side walls in case a patient needed to be speedily removed; continuously flowing water replaced holy water stoups at the entrance; there were separate entrances for male and female patients since gender segregation was mandatory in mental institutions at the time; confessionals were more open than is customary. There were toilet facilities easily accessible within the church in case of patient need. Originally the pews were of different widths to accommodate different categories of a patient: calm/restless/disturbed (the latter needing more space). The floor is raked as in a theatre, though not as steeply; the fall from the entrance to the altar is approximately 26 centimetres: standing at the back the view to the altar is thus less obstructed.

The magnificent windows at the sides of the church portray seven saints (named underneath each frame), fulfilling Christ's commands both temporal (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc.) and spiritual. Above them are a pair of flying angels and a quotation from the Beatitudes. The stained glass windows were executed by Koloman Moser.