Adolf Loos was born on the 10th of December, 1870. He spent his early years working with his father, who is a stone mason. When he was 17, he started to take technical lessons in Liberec. In 1889, he served in the Austrian military. In 1890–1893, he studied architecture at Dresden Technical University. During that time, he was inspired by Vitrivius and Schinkel. After finishing his education in Dresden, he left for America, where he stayed for three years. In 1896, he moved to Vienna. He designed many important buildings, starting with Vienna. He affected many architects and, generally, European architecture with his modern architectural style. In 1918, he found out he had cancer and died in Kalksburg when he was 62 years old.

His travels to the United States had a big effect on his ideas about architecture. He had a chance to visit the Chicago World Fair and met with Sullivan’s theoretical writings, like “Ornament in Architecture.”. Later, he wrote his own essay called “Ornament and Crime,” in which he made many radical statements about Art Nouveau and the architects who followed it. Adolf Loos believed that architecture should be simple and functional. He compared the ornaments on buildings to tattoos. According to him, people who have tattoos are degenerates and criminals, so ornaments on buildings are a crime. The reason behind this statement is that Loos had the idea that grown, modern men should not spend their time with unimportant, childish things like decoration. Instead, modern men should focus on progress and the future. When he visited the States, he saw skyscrapers for the first time because, at that time, in Europe, that high building was not done yet. So when he saw what other architects were doing and how advanced they were in technology, he realized Art Nouveau was not the solution or progression that Europe needed.

According to Loos, architecture is about the atmosphere and the feeling a space gives you. It is an architect’s job to achieve that without filling the building with decorations and ornaments. Architecture is not for looking but for getting inside and experiencing. One of the things he enjoyed the most was taking pictures of the interiors he designed without sensing any visual effect. 

Some people compare architecture to art, but Loos believes that art does not have any responsibilities to anyone; on the other hand, a building has a responsibility to everyone. It affects the people walking by, people who live or work in it, and it even affects other people living near buildings. Unlike art, architecture is long-lasting physically. If that building is demolished purposefully, it will probably last for many years. That means it will not only affect today’s environment but also the future. 

Loos thinks that each city has its own architectural characteristics. What we like in one city may seem ugly or repulsive in another one. Vienna’s architectural character is that the facade rises straight until the cornice. There is no oriel, little dome, or any other additions. But because of high land prices, people want to have an additional room in the attic, which changes the characteristics of Vienna for financial reasons. Loos believes that he can solve this problem by letting people have seven-story-high buildings if they do not put anything above the cornice. He thinks it is a more honest way to have just higher buildings. Loos did not have a good relationship with other architects in Vienna because of his differences and strong ideas. He was an outcast, and he liked to criticize those other architects and their movement, Art Nouveau. There was one person he did not criticize, and that was his mentor, Otto Wagner. He had a writing piece specifically dedicated to Otto Wagner, which he wrote in 1911. He starts his piece by mentioning a staircase he saw in Post- und Telegraphenverwaltung. He says that the second he saw the staircase, he realized it was Wagner’s design. Loos states that he can always detect Wagner’s work. He believes that Wagner was an architect who could bring solutions to his era’s most important and bigger public buildings. Loos resents that Wagner is not being appreciated enough and not getting first place in competitions he attends, but he thinks the reason behind that is because Wagner is an artist. He ends his writing by mentioning that he does not like everything that comes from Wagner’s office because Loos stands with tradition, while Wagner refuses it. And yet he still thinks Wagner is the greatest architect in the world who is alive. 

Looshaus, 1911 

Adolf Loos’ Ideas on Architecture and Vienna-Sheet1

Loos designed this building for a male fashion company called Goldman & Salatsch. They wanted a building in the city center and called eight architects to have a competition. Loos was the only architect who refused to attend. Loos thinks that this competition is a system that destroys modern architecture. According to him, the best architect never wins the competition. He sees himself as an architect beyond his era. So he told the company he only works with contracts and prepared one. This contract included that if any architect presents a better ground floor plan, he will leave this job. And another important article was that there would be no interventions with the facade. He was open to the ideas of his commissioners, but he also thinks that the facade is separate from that. 

Adolf Loos’ Ideas on Architecture and Vienna-Sheet2
floor plan_©

Only the architect knows what kind of effect a facade may have. He did not give any ideas about the face through drawings or models. The facade of the building was criticized by the entire city, but the company stood with Loos. Ludwig Hoffman, who worked in the Municipal Construction Office as chairman, wrote about Loos’ building. He mentioned he would be sorry if an ugly building like this rose against the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace and that he was afraid Loss’ building would corrupt the palace’s effect. Loos says that he enjoyed himself when he saw those comments.

Cafe Museum

Adolf Loos’ Ideas on Architecture and Vienna-Sheet3

Loos thinks that people who criticize him try to find examples from overseas, like when he made Cafe Museum They tried finding examples from America. But Loos believes his work has the style of Vienna in the 1910s. He says that for the Cafe Museum, he brought together the specialties of Vienna coffee shops and facades in a modern style. He designed this building simply, from the facade to the chairs inside. Since Loos’ simplistic and modern approach was not appreciated after his death in the 1930s, the building was redesigned by the pupil of Joseph Hoffman: Josef Zotti. Later in 2003, a renovation was made to make it look like the original Loos’ design. But in 2010, the building was renovated again, this time according to Zotti’s design. 

American Bar 

Adolf Loos’ Ideas on Architecture and Vienna-Sheet4

It was Vienna’s first American bar with an American flag designed on the facade. It is a very small space, only 25 square meters but Loos managed the make the space bigger by using mirrors. The reason behind this design could be a reaction from Loos to people considering him to be more like an American wannabe. Earlier in this paper people trying to find examples of Loos’ designs from overseas were mentioned. 

Loos is an outstanding architect and mind who was not appreciated back in his time, but now has a great impact on architecture. Even though he was an outcast, I believe that it was a drive for Loos to be more bold and open about his ideas. He liked to answer people who criticized him for his works and writings. The fact that he was not understood then shows us how ahead of his time he was. He left many works behind him in Vienna and many controversies which did not only stop with Vienna. Like the example of Cafe Museum; his work, and ideas are still discussed today. 


Loos, Adolf. Mimarlık Üzerine. 9 ed., Janus, 2014.

“Looshaus / Adolf Loos.” Arkitektuel, 

“Loos Haus, Vienna.” Architectuul,

“The Story.” Café Museum,


Lara Tikenogullari, a wandering mind immersed in the infinite subtleties of architecture, seeks to explore and share the intricate delights with fellow architects and those who embrace a common love. This journey will host myriad discussions, not only about the field of architecture in terms of design but also its relationship with humanity, time, history, and so much more.