Adolf Loos – Austrian Architect and Interior Designer (1870-1933)

Adolf Loos was an austrian architect, critic, and interior designer, a pioneer and promoter of rationality who gave an important intellectual contribution to architecture.

Since 1900 he proves to be hostile towards the Secession, the Austrian branch of Art Nouveau and in particular towards the ornament, so heavily promoted by the secessionists.

As an architect, he was very interested in the way a building would have been inhabited. To bare and sparse facades he opposed opulent and decorative interiors, seeming to contradict the rational principles he supported. Indeed he does not rejected the ornament when it was an intrinsic characteristic to the material, able to withstand time and fashion, so in the interiors, like Mies van der Rohe, he used plenty of semi-precious materials such as wood, metal and marble. His aversion to the ornament was not purely aesthetic, but primarily rational, against the ephemeral and the frivolous.

His architecture carries evocative symbolic interpretations demonstrating a keen attention to the territorial and human context and this is the reason why his masterpieces are the small private houses.

Architecture as cultural expression of civilizations.

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Villa Karma, 1903-1906, A. Loos
Villa Karma, 1903-1906, A. Loos

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Adolf Loos‘s writings focused increasingly on what Adolf Loos regarded as the excess of decoration in both traditional Viennese design and in the more recent products of the Vienna Secession and the Wiener Werkstatte.

In 1898, in the pages of the review Ver Sacrum, which was an organ of the Wiener Secession, Adolf Loos published an essay that marked the beginning of a long theoretical opposition to the then popular art noveau movement. His theories culminated in a short essay entitled, “Ornament and Crime,” published in 1908.

To Adolf Loos, the lack of ornament in architecture was a sign of spiritual strength. The essay rapidly became a theoretical manifesto and a key document in modernist literature and was widely circulated abroad. Le Corbusier later attributed “an Homeric cleansing” of architecture to the work.

What is the major works of Adolf Loos?
  • Cafè Museum, at Vienna, Austria, 1898 to 1899;
  • Villa Karma, Clarens, at Montreux, Switzerland, 1904 to 1906;
  • American Bar, at Vienna, Austria, 1907;
  • Steiner House, at Vienna, Austria, 1910;
  • House on the Michaelerplatz, at Vienna, Austria, 1910 to 1911;
  • Scheu House, Vienna, at Austria, 1912 to 1913;
  • Schneidersalon Knize, Vienna, Austria, 1909 – 1913;
  • Moller House, Vienna, at Austria, 1927 to 1928;
  • Villa Müller, Prague, Czech Republic, 1930.

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Casa Moller, 1927-1928, H. Loos
Moller House, 1927-1928, H. Loos

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