The ground plan and cross-section of the Secession reveal very simple geometrical forms. The building itself covers an area of about 1,000 sq m (10,800 sq ft) and has a centralized floor plan. Olbrich exploits the square as a basic motif in a number of cruciform combinations in the entrance area and exhibition wing. This scheme for the floor plan also underlies the building’s elevation and thus informs the overall shape of its volume.
Joseph Maria Olbrich, layout for Secession’s parterre, 1898, Archive of Secession
Undivided flat surfaces dominate on the exterior of the building. The massive, unbroken walls lend the structure the appearance of being constructed from a series of solid cubes. Yet Olbrich uses this rigid geometry as a general framework he then enlivens with sinuous lines, curves, and intersecting elements.
Olbrich organizes the building into a “representative” entrance area and a “functional” exhibition area. The entrance is flanked by hermetic blocks above which four pylons hold the dome. The exhibition hall has a basilica form with a lofty nave and two lower aisles and, at their far end, a transept. It is almost completely covered by tent-like glazed roofs that bathe the interior in an even light.