In Vienna on a journey around the world
Austria’s capital looks like Kyrgyzstan here and like Italy there. An architecture lecturer has captured this exoticism photographically on the doorstep. His pictures are a perfect means to satisfy the wanderlust.
What do you do when you can’t go on a trip around the world? You travel through your own city with open eyes, to places and places that are as exotic or strange as possible, and dream of being up and about.
This is how Wojciech Czaja, a native of Poland, who lives in Vienna and loves to travel, did it. He knows his city well, as he regularly rushes through the districts on his scooter.
One day, during the 2020 Corona lockdown, he noticed something in Wolfganggasse, on the corner of Herthergasse, that caused him to brake. A certain point of view, a Wilhelminian style house, rounded balcony strips – “a little bit of Bauhaus, a little bit of modernity, a little bit of international style”. Czaja suddenly thought he was in Tel Aviv.
From that key moment on, he saw his city through the glasses of the world traveler he was before the pandemic. He left the architecture typical of Vienna, all the rows of houses in the Art Nouveau style, the stucco-decorated magnificent buildings from the Austro-Hungarian era, to the left. From then on he looked for Viennese buildings that looked as if they were somewhere far away on the planet.
In this way he discovered half the world in his place of residence: Jesolo on Schwedenplatz, Irkutsk on Simmeringer Hauptstrasse, the Alhambra in Lainzer Tiergarten, Dubai on Janis-Joplin-Promenade. From the idea and the iPhone photos, all of which he took himself, a wonderful book was created, full to the brim with original perspectives: “Almost 100 cities in Vienna”.
Why is there such an accumulation of international architectural styles in Vienna of all places? Czaja, who also teaches architecture and urban culture, refers to clients who have come up with similar solutions all over the world for thousands of years.
There are pyramids not only in Giza, but also among the Aztecs. Or triumphal arches: one is in Paris, another in Pyongyang. Or prefabricated buildings: can be found in Cuba as in the ex-GDR.
Nowadays, of course, people often blatantly copy, think of Venice’s Campanile in Las Vegas or the cloned Austrian Hallstatt in China.
Czaja’s book is not only the perfect wanderlust-stiller. It also makes you want to see it with different eyes while strolling (or scooter) through your own city: after all, a piece of Istanbul is also in Berlin, a touch of Lisbon blows through Hamburg, and it doesn’t look like it in Munich here and there Ferrara?
“Almost 100 Cities in Vienna” by Wojciech Czaja, Edition Korrespondenzen, 232 pages, 100 color photos, 20 euros