Robert ‹rley 1876-1945

The Complete Work

Tue 26.03.1996 – Sun 05.05.1996

opening day: Opening: March 26, 1996, 7 p.m.

Robert Örley (1876-1945) was a self-made architect who in the most productive phase of the classical Wiener Moderne belonged to the core of the domestic avantgarde. Around 1910 his early villas and especially the sanatorium Luithlen moved him closer to Adolf Loos and Josef Hoffmann, Joze Plecnik, Leopold Bauer, and the Gessner brothers.

Without adhering to any specific school or scene, Örley, initially trained as carpenter and building master, was active in several different institutions: president of the Wiener Secession and the Österreichische Werkbund, vice president of the Zentralvereinigung der Architekten. We owe it to him that the profession explored new horizons especially after World War I. Although his work in the 20s no longer professes the radical, individual modernity of his early creation, he succeeds in significantly contributing to the dispute between the people`s housing palaces” by the adherents of Wagner, and the housing settlement concepts of the garden city movement.

Örley appears as a contradictory, tragic figure” in his biography (W. Posch); it was under his leadership that the Werkbund slowly found new stability after the split-up of 1920, – almost ruining Örley financially and inducing him in 1927 to leave for Turkey. He returned after several successful years in Ankara, but was unable to find his place in Vienna after 1932; Örley had been a declared German nationalist since 1919, he served the Vaterländische Front and later on the national-socialist regime – rising to become the Kammerpräsident” of architects during the war, without however, enjoying real political power or receiving actual contracts during this period.

Based on the rare existing sources, Peter Nigst collected the work of Robert Örley for his doctoral thesis. The exhibition in the Architekturzentrum Wien presents the entire available planning and photographic material accompanied by models and examples of Örley`s numerous furniture and material designs. This complete collection of work allows a clear understanding of the development and controversial nature of Austrian modern art.

Örley`s most significant contributions are the reformulation of a hall-like house with the principle of a centre flooded with light”, the technical mastery of his functionally refined interior decoration, the elimination of classical symmetric house designs determined by the characteristics of the topos involved, and the differentiated harmony of his concept of the interior with the mighty, plastic silhouettes of his buildings.