Nussdorfer Wehr- & Schleusenanlage:
Art Nouveau (Jugenstil) Locks & Reservoir in Vienna

At the first glance, the Nussdorfer Wehr on the Donaukanal (Danube Canal) in Vienna is a rather unexciting building. Upon closer inspection, you will notice that it is a Jugendstil or Art Nouveau building, an early modern design by Otto Wagner - local hero of Vienna′s Jugendstil architecture.

The Nussdorfer Wehr was built after 1892, when there were plans to make the Donaukanal Canal a winter port and transportation line. This was a project ideal for somebody like Otto Wagner: He liked things where he could plan extensive developments with a significant impact on the entire city. Otto Wagner approached the port project with great enthusiasm and produced approximately 1,500 sketches and detailed plans.

Sadly, most of Wagner′s bigger projects were never pursued beyond the planning stage. This applies in particular to the development of the Wiental, the Karlsplatz and town museum of Vienna - and the development of a city port on the Donaukanal. The lock and reservoir dam of the Nussdorfer Wehr are two separate constructions; colloquially, however, they are usually referred to as "Nussdorfer Wehr" as a joint term. Both buildings illustrate Wagner′s transition from historicism to Jugendstil - just like his private villas, by the way. The Nussdorfer Wehr can be found at the "starting point" of the Donaukanal, to the opposite of the Nussdorf neighbourhood - in fact, they are not IN Nussdorf, but in the nasty 20th district of Brigittenau.

Trackes of an Imaginative Danube Harbour in Vienna

The Nussdorfer Wehr buildings are the only buildings of the "port scenario" that were actually built. The Nussdorfer Wehr was necessary to control the water level of the Donaukanal in order to keep enough water in there to allow ships to pass and at the same time protect the Stadtbahn train and the buildings along the canal from floods. The construction of the Nussdorfer Wehr took from 1894 to 1899.

Otto Wagner considered the building a "modern city gate" and matched that with the design: Two lions guard the Nussdorfer Wehr on the top of pillars. One of these lions was later used for the logo of the company "Gräf & Stift", a historic Austrian car manufactory. As soon as 1899, the Nussdorfer Wehr proved its usefulness when it prevented damages during a flood. The lock itself is supplemented with a Secessionist building with three floors and a platform on top that served as a look-out.

Between 1971 and 1975, the Nussdorfer Wehr was carefully modernised without damaging the historic appearance. Even more sophisticated technology was used when a power plant was built here in 2004. 12 turbines directly at the historic Wehr buildings generate enough energy for 10,000 households. As of 2008, the Nussdorfer Wehr receives fairly little attention as a significant historic building; locals will know of it as a functional thing, but if you ask Viennese to name a few Art Nouveau buildings in the city centre of Vienna, they almost certainly won′t come up with the Nussdorfer Wehr. Today, the administrative building (the most attractive part) is not in very good shape. The highway-like building does not add to its appeal.

Attractions nearby include the Rossauer Kaserne; the Ringturm and onset of the Ringstraße; the Servitenkirche; the Augarten is in walking distance. And the destructor of Spittelau can be seen from the Danube at the Nussdorfer Wehr.

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Further Reading

German Wikipedia on the Nussdorfer Wehr (witch pics)

Wikipedia on Otto Wagner