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Adolf Loos: Pioneered Modernist Architecture in Euorpe

Author of Ornament and Crime

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Adolf Loos

Adolf Loos

Image: ClipArt.com 1928 Villa Müller, Prague-Střešovice, Czech Republic, designed by Adolf Loos

1928 Villa Müller, Prague-Střešovice, Czech Republic. Photo © User:Miaow Miaow on Wikimedia Commons, released into the public domain.

Adolf Loos-designed 1912 Haus Horner in Vienna, Austria, has an arc metal roof like a quonset hut

1912 Horner House, Vienna, Austria

Photo ©heardjoin via Wikimedia Commons, released into the public domain.

Adolf Loos was an architect who became more famous for his ideas than for his buildings. He believed that reason should determine the way we build, and he opposed the decorative Art Nouveau movement.

Born:

December 10, 1870 in Brno (Brünn), now in the Czech Republic

Died:

August 23, 1933 in Kalksburg near Vienna, Austria

Early Life:

Adolf Loos was nine when his father, a stonemason, died. To his mother's grief, Adolf Loos refused to continue the family business. His mother disowned him when he was 23.

Education:

  • Began studies at the Royal and Imperial State Technical College in Rechenberg, Bohemia
  • Spent a year in the army
  • Attended the College of Technology in Dresden for three years
  • Traveled to the United States and worked as a mason, a floor-layer, and a dishwasher

Influences:

  • Adolf Loos was impressed by the efficiency of American architecture, and he admired the work of Louis Sullivan
  • In 1896, returned to Vienna and worked for architect Carl Mayreder
  • In 1898, Loos opened his own practice in Vienna and became friends with philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, expressionist composer Arnold Schönberg, satirist Karl Kraus, and other free-thinkers.

Representative Building Projects:

Architectural Theory:

Adolf Loos argued that the buildings we design reflect our morality as a society. In Ornament & Crime (Compare Prices) and other essays, Loos described the suppression of decoration as necessary for regulating passion.

Stylistic Features:

Homes designed by Adolf Loos featured:

  • Straight lines
  • Clear planar walls and windows
  • Clean curves
  • Raumplan ("plan of volumes") system of contiguous, merging spaces
  • Each room on a different level, with floors and ceilings set at different heights

Teaching:

Adolf Loos started his own school of architecture. His students included Richard Neutra and R. M. Schindler, who later became famous in the United States.

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