One of the most notable examples of contemporary architecture by Adolf Loos is the Muller House in Vienna, built-in 1927–1928. Adolf Loos is a well-known architect from the early 20th century who sought to reject the time’s predominant decorative style and adopt a more minimalist outlook. The structures and writings of Adolf Loos (1870–1993) are today frequently misinterpreted in the cultural world as being samples of an early modern iconoclasm that sought to deny art as a whole.  In his notorious essay, he claimed that the elimination of ornament resulted from cultural elaboration, leading to the invalidation of waste from human labor and reduced time and energy spent on manual labor. He discovered that the progress of culture is associated with everyday objects.

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Müller House, Vienna _ ©

Ornament and Crime 

The seminal essay “Ornament and Crime,” written by Adolf Loos, a well-known member of the modernist movement, was first published in 1908. According to Loos, decoration is an indication of cultural decay and is comparable to criminal activity and behavior.

Loos’s main principles included his beliefs on ornamentation and functional spaces, where he believed that unnecessary ornamentation was a waste of resources and advocated for practical functionality in house design, which detracted from the essential aspects of design, and slowed down development.

This theory of ornament and crime influences the contemporary field of architecture and design, many architects and designers adhere to minimalist principles, stressing straight lines, utility, and simplicity. Modernist structures and products clearly reject overbearing adornment, demonstrating a goal for ageless and inclusive design.

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Ornament and crime _ ©

The armature architectural conception of “Raumplan”

In keeping with Loos’ views on the interrelationship between architecture and society, one of his significant accomplishments was the armature architectural conception of “Raumplan”. It encourages a three-dimensional method of architectural design with a clear distinction between public and private spaces, both visually and functionally. This concept placed more emphasis on the idea of space as an entity rather than just a container object, emphasizing spatial design and a clear separation between the exterior and interior. It is accomplished by using various heights and elevations to build a dynamic and linked space. With this method, spaces can flow into one another naturally, giving the impression of fluidity and continuity. Being in the space designed by Adolf Loos, one gets to experience Loos’s principles of privacy, simplicity, and the essence of modernist architecture. Hence, the attitude toward buildings designed by him is purely functional… as it gives importance to the presence of the relationship between spaces.

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Müller House, Vienna _ © /

Separation between interior and exterior: Müller House

Perceive his concept of separating the exterior from the interior in one of his most impressive works, which is the Muller house in Vienna. It is difficult to distinguish between his distinctive works, but this house stands out to me as being particularly powerful because it reflects the simplicity of the white, rectangular house from the outside in contrast with the fully filled, detailed interiors. Being a modern architecture, the house is characterized by Loos’s ideas of economy and function.  

The house was identified by specific design elements, such as materiality, color, and lighting. Quality materials like marble were used in the interior to provide a sense of luxury in private spaces, while materials that were more utilitarian were used in public areas. The interiors are adorned with decorative elements that highlight Loos’s appreciation for fashion and craftsmanship, specialized built-in furnishing, and luxurious materials like wood, and brass. The plain white walls and flat roofs, with few windows facing the street to maintain the privacy of the house, define the minimalism of the exteriors. The Muller House’s exterior face is made of reinforced concrete, has straightforward geometric shapes, and is devoid of ornamentation or any decorative elements. This material selection highlights the house’s isolation from its surroundings by striking contrast with the lush green surroundings. The windows are relatively small and placed at specific points that control the views from inside to outside, so that the views are always in a frame and the sensation of the room is spatial; closure is maintained.

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the stairway, Moller House_ ©Martin Gerlach Jr

Balancing functionalism with aesthetic distinctive choices  

In the design of Müller House, Loos balanced functionalist principles with his distinctive aesthetic choices.  The spatial configuration of the rooms was conceived to meet the requirements of the family. Loos manipulates spaces within the house: various ceiling heights, split-level floors, interconnected rooms without hallways, and distinctive flooring materials. The transition from outside to inside is marked by a prominent entrance hall, in which spatial progression occurs through a strict sequence of rooms. These multifaceted spaces cater to social interaction while providing privacy for their inhabitants. The ceilings, floors, and walls are all connected together, which behave the function of composing enclosures around the spaces for Loos, which are sculptural elements or functional furnishing in a diversity of scales. It is a series of addicted living spaces that also feature partitioned zones for more private areas like bedrooms and bathrooms. This layout exemplifies his intent to establish clear distinctions between social and intimate spaces. 

A crucial aspect of analyzing Loos’s separation between outside and inside is comprehending his provocations behind this contrast. His assertion is that elaborate architecture is superficial and that true beauty should result from a balance between function and utility, mentioning how he questioned traditional beliefs about interior design at the time by arguing that clothes serve as enough ornamentation for human beings, inferring that furniture acts as clothing for spaces.  

Müller House, Vienna _ © /


This juxtaposition between simple exteriors and elaborately detailed interiors accentuates the division between the public view of the house and its private inner realm, which is what gives the house its significant importance in modern architecture. The lack of ornament in the façade seems like an analogy to the urban man, while the inside is enmeshed in feminine and sensuous complexity. Loos’s ideas and views about the elimination of ornamentation and the emphasis on functionality and efficiency continue to influence the design world today and encourage generations of architects and design movements. 


  1. Loos, A. (1908). Ornament and crime.  
  2. Loos Ph.D. Dissertation University College London.
  3. Masheck. J. ADPLF LOOS: The Art of Architecture
  4. Miller.S. Adlof Loos. Irish Arts Review (1984-1987), Vol. 3, No. 1 (spring, 1986), pp.
  6. Sukes. K, (2007).The Architecture Reader: Essential Writing from Vitruvius to the Present.

Architect, Teaching Assistant currently pursuing her Master’s studies in Interior Design in Florence, Italy. After obtaining her degree in Architecture from Birzeit University, and experiencing 2 years of working in architecture, interior, and furniture design, she was inspired to specialize in the interior and furniture Italian designs.