Adolf Loos (1870- 1933) was an Austrian architect, designer, and critic whose intellectual contribution has been crucial to the advent of the Modern Movement. He was born in Brno, Austria-Hungary (today Czech Republic). He was and remains one of the most important promoters of rationality in architecture and can be considered in all respects the forefather of modern architecture and design.

Since 1900 he strongly opposed the Secession, the Viennese branch of Art Nouveau, after embracing its assumptions for a short time. He was particularly hostile to the ornament, so heavily promoted by the Secessionists, and the title of his lecture-essay “Ornament and Crime” (1910) became one of the most famous dictums in the world of architecture.

His repulsion to the ornament wasn’t aesthetic but cultural, representing his opposition towards waste, the ephemeral, and the frivolous. He didn’t want to propose a style to follow, so to unadorned façades he opposed opulent interiors. Contrary to contemporary starchitects, Loos never favoured the individual ego to the good of the community, and always tried to promote architecture as a cultural expression of civilization.

Café Museum, 1899

Vienna, Austria

Façade and interior design of the Café Museum, still one of the best cafes in Vienna. Located in Karlsplatz near the Secession Building, the café features a whitewashed, unadorned façade contrasting the rustication of the upper floors. The project was heavily criticised by Loos’s contemporaries for his excessive plainness.

Villa Karma, 1903-06

Montreaux, Switzerland

His first building, the Villa Karma, was notable for its geometric simplicity. Loos was originally appointed to design a cottage for Villa Karma’s watchman. “I was invited to present myself at the police, where I was asked how I dared to make a similar attempt against the beauty of Lake Geneva. The building was too simple. Where were the ornaments? I was released with a certificate prohibiting the construction of such a simple and then ugly building.” (1910)

Goldman & Salatsch, 1909-11

Vienna, Austria

Nicknamed “Looshaus”, it is the most famous building by Loos. Originally designed for his tailors, Goldman & Salatsch, since 1987 it houses the Raiffeisenbank. The building is located on Michaelerplatz in front of the Hofburg, the Imperial Palace. It was strongly criticized by Loos’s contemporaries because of the unadorned façade. The Emperor Franz Joseph himself avoided leaving his palace using the exit located in front of the Looshaus and closed the curtains in his rooms to not see it.

Scheu House, 1912-13

Vienna, Austria

Designed after a journey to Algeria, Loos was probably influenced by terraced houses that he introduced to Vienna with this building. “It aroused general disapproval. (…) Someone asked to City Council that the building was prohibited by law.”

Moller House, 1926-27

Vienna, Austria

A building expressing the sum of all the principles investigated by Loos. All rooms can be re-arranged through the use of sliding doors dividing the spaces. The picture potrays the main elevation.

Villa Müller, 1928-30

Prague, Czech Republic

The Villa Müller is a Modernist villa in Prague, Czech Republic built in 1930. Another famous house designed by Loos developing his theory of the “raumplan”.

Source: designculture.it

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