Josef Maria Filip Olbrich

22 December 1867, Opava – 8 August 1908, Düsseldorf (Germany) 
Josef Maria Filip Olbrich was an architect, co-founder of the architectural style Vienna Secession, designer of industrial artwork, and painter.

Olbrich was the third of five children, his father was a prosperous entrepreneur and owner of the local brick plant. Josef Maria Filip started studying at the grammar school in Opava, but he soon dropped out. He became an apprentice in a construction company in Opava, then moved to Vienna to study architecture at the University of Applied Arts and the Academy of Fine Arts. After graduation he returned to Opava where he worked his way up and became the chief architect in the local construction company. When his mother had died, Olbrich returned to Vienna where he founded the Vienna Secession Association in collaboration with other architects and artists. The 1898 Jubilee Exhibition pavilion designed by Olbrich became the group’s architectural manifesto.

In 1899 Olbrich accepted the invitation of Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse to design an artistic colony. He moved to Darmstadt where he settled and married. In the next ten years Olbrich designed Arnošt Ludvík’s family house, seven houses for members of the Darmstadt’s Artist Colony, department store Tietz in Düsseldorf, hall of the Basel SBB railway station, and the villas Surre in Potsdam and Feinhals in Köln. His work makes Olbrich a co-founder of modern German architecture. He also proved himself as a good interior designer (he mostly designed furniture) and painter.

The only architectural work Olbrich created in this period in the Czech lands was his native house in Opava, which he redesigned for his brother. The house was pulled down in 1858. Olbrich died of leukaemia when he was only 40 years old.


Leopold Bauer

1 September 1872, Krnov – 7 October 1938, Vienna (Austria)
Leopold Bauer was a constructor, architect, designer of industrial artwork, and creator of Viennese Neo-biedermeier.

Bauer graduated from the realschule in Krnov, technical school in Brno, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, where he worked in a private studio. He completed his education with a study trip to Italy, France and Germany. Bauer was a great admirer of ancient art and supporter of pro-functionalist modernism. From 1900 he was a member of the Vienna Secession together with J. M. F. Olbrich, a famous architect from Opava. Bauer was the editor of the magazine Ver Sacrum published by the Vienna Secession group. He never lived in Opava, but he designed several buildings in the city.

Originally a supporter of Central European modernism, he gradually started to criticize this style and became a promoter of monumental classicism. Bauer was one of the creators of Viennese Neo-biedermeir and a promoter of historicism, especially the Gothic style, which he loved for its perfect depiction of matter. The first building constructed in Opava according to Bauer’s design was the Chamber of Commerce and Trade in Nádražní Circuit built in 1909–1910. He also designed the interior of the building, which features a dominant central staircase. Bauer used this element in other designs, e.g. Hatschek’s villa in the city park and the department store Breda.

Among Bauer’s most remarkable projects belong K. Reissig’s and H. Hecht’s villas in Brno, F. Kurz’s villa and shooting range in Krnov, or Priessnitz Sanatorium in Jeseník. Bauer himself considered the building of National Bank in Vienna his best work. Bauer’s last project for Opava was St. Hedwig’s Church devoted to the soldiers fallen in the World War I. Bauer never saw the realization of his design, he died in Vienna when the church was being built.