2 Min Lesezeit
Settlers’ hut, interior perspective of kitchenette, 1921, ink on tracing paper; University of Applied Arts Vienna, Art Collection and Archive, bequest Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky/Luzie Lahtinen-Stransky, inv. no. 23/4
Model of the scullery, after the design by Schütte-Lihotzky (1923), execution: Nikolaus Fuchs (2019), on view in the exhibition “Das Rote Wien. Ideas, Debates, Practice”, Photo: Manuela Mark

When the name Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky is mentioned, anyone halfway familiar with the history of architecture and design in the 20th century immediately thinks of her famous “Frankfurt Kitchen”. What is less well known is that a few years earlier, as a young architect, Schütte-Lihotzky designed a scullery for a settler’s house. While working on the 2019/2020 exhibition “Red Vienna. 1919-1934”, the reconstruction of her design has raised “not only tricky questions” but also opened up new perspectives on the pioneer’s work, as Peter Stuiber, head of the Publications and Digital Museum Department at the Wien Museum, explains in an article in the Wien Museum’s magazine that is yet to be discovered.

According to Stuiber, Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky was active for the settler movement in Vienna in the early 1920s. At the “Vienna Allotment, Settlement and Housing Exhibition” on Rathausplatz in 1923, the prototype of a scullery she designed caused quite a sensation, as this design also aimed to rationalise household work. According to Stuiber, the scullery was intended “for an intermediate space between the actual living space of the settlers’ house and the garden, similar to what is usual in farmhouses. Several functions were to be combined in a four-square-metre room with a water connection: Heating water in the kettle, bathing in the tub, washing clothes, washing dishes and cleaning vegetables, or preparing food so that it could be processed in the ‘real’ kitchen (which was intended as an extension of the scullery). The floor of the room was probably to have a smooth surface, as in a laundry room, and be provided with a drain.”

During the reconstruction, it turned out that the original from 1923 was most likely not cast in concrete as intended. It was primarily a matter of “visualising a radical idea whose technical details were far from mature, but which evoked a new era due to its futuristic language of form and radical choice of materials”. At the time, concrete – like plastic later – was a material that awakened bold fantasies. “It was hoped,” says designer Nikolaus Fuchs, who was commissioned with the reconstruction, “to prefabricate the thing in a factory hall and deliver it as a complete block. The first monobloc in design history, so to speak”. The fact that the settler movement lost importance from the mid-1920s onwards may therefore have been just one of the reasons why the design did not go into serial production. According to the report, Fuchs does not believe that Schütte-Lihotzky was concerned with formal details, “but with the social aspects of the design, with the organisation of household work, which it was intended to improve. At the 1923 exhibition, the scullery was simply a statement that could be discussed. They wanted to show something – and they succeeded.”

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