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|The Sophiensäle (Saal = Hall, Säle = Halls) started as a steam bath in 1838. The owner, Franz Morawetz got the idea for a bath from a Russian Major and used his wife's money to build the bath in their house. The bath was immediately so successful that it was rebuilt, by architect P. Gerl into a hall with swimming pool between 1845 - 1849 by Eduard van der Nüll and August Siccard von Siccardsburg. The hall itself was one of Vienna's first large iron constructions. The money came from shareholders and the water from the nearby Donau Kanal, an artificial side arm of the Danube river.|
The hall was used for swimming and bathing during the summer and used as
a dance- and concert hall in the winter by covering the bath with floorboards.
When covered, the hall was the largest venue open to the public in Vienna,
measuring 13,6 x 38 meters and allowed for 300 people.
Because of the empty bath under the floor the accoustics were excellent, the reason that in the 20th century many Wiener Philharmoniker concerts were recorded in the Sofiensäle.
The building was reconstructed in 1870 by architect Petschnik who also added
the galleries, roof supports and wall paintings. In 1886 the Kleine Saal
(small hall) was added to the complex, allowing for 3000 people in the establishment.
In 1899 the main front was added
in the style of the Vienna Jugendstil by Dehm and Olbricht, the latter
would later design the Secession building. As the concerts and dance events
were so successful, the bath itself was closed in 1906.
After the second world war, the Sofiensäle were renovated and, in the fasion
of the time, modernized. The decorations were simplified and the main facade
was cleaned off from any decorations.
The building slowly decayed until it was discovered by the clubbing scene in the 1990s. The renovation of the Sophiensäle started in the 1990s and the building was used as dance- and concert hall.
In August 2001 the building burnt out, what's left of it are the galleries
and changing rooms around the main hall. The main hall itself is destroyed,
the roof caught fire, fell through the floor above the main hall, through
the floor over the swimming pool into to former bath.
Currently some groups are trying to save what's left of the building but there is not much hope as renovating the building really means a complete rebuilding of the building, only few parts are left.
|all pictures copyright © m.koning 2000 - 2003|