I was very pleasantly surprised by this book on the house Wittgenstein designed for his sister between 1926 and 28. Although it goes into what might seem initially like rather fine detail in fact that is the delight of the book - most books on architecture fall into the coffee-table trap - pretty pictures and analysis-lite. The attempt to write paras a la Wittgenstein is sweet rather than too annoying but the details tell an awful lot about his approach and focus on the really key fact about the house - this was not Witt playing at applied philosophy - it was architecture, he really focussed on the basics - how a wall meets a floor, how pillar meet a ceiling and where, how floor tiles add to the feeling of a room. While Tractatus may be impenetrable for the most part to non logicians (and apparently to all logicians too) the building shows a sensual approach (in a Viennese teutonic context!) that is suprising - no white walls anywhere and a handrail for holding on to thought through with enormous care. Witt had the money to do it - very few would, a sympa sister as client, and it seems it probably kept him busy instead of suiciding himself like two of his brothers in a difficult patch. For me this unlikely book is a whole lot better and more satisfying about architecture than any I have read - quite a tribute as the author spent 30 yrs saving the building, yet manages helpful analysis for the ordinary reader. A treat.
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The Wittgenstein House4 May 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
I actually own the paperbound that I bought in Vienna in 1973 --never did get to see inside the house though. Excellent book with very nice photographs. I would have bought a hard-bound version if available at the time as mine has received a lot of wear. The detail in his architecture is very representative of his writings after the Tractatus. Buy it.