Overview of the Artist

Adolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos (10 December 1870 to 23 August 1933) was a Czechoslovak and Austrian architect, influential European philosopher, and modern architecture social critic. He served as a modernist inspiration and a well-known Art Nouveau movement critic. His debatable ideas and literary participation prompted the Vienna Secession movement and postmodernism.

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Adolf Loo_©https://www.britannica.com/biography/Adolf-Loos#/media/1/347815/114418

Most of his works are in Austria and Czech Republic. His minimalist attitude is reflected in the works of great architects like Mies Van Der Rohe, Le Corbusier, etc. His thoughts, writings, theories, and philosophies have inspired several other architects in the way they perceive architecture.

The Riveting Raumplan Concept

A Raumplan is a method of planning that uses discrete rooms and a dynamic section. This strategy frequently necessitates taking steps into each room or group of rooms and lays a strong emphasis on the scale of individual rooms. The technique is widely credited to the architect Adolf Loos. It calls for a strong understanding of structural relationships and the capacity to model spaces.

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Villa Muller Spatial Significance with regard to the Raumplan Concept_©https://i.pinimg.com/originals/93/de/57/93de57dbce8b8d107180f84650bf9737.jpg

Adolf Loos and architect Karel Lhota collaborated to create the Villa Müller in Prague in 1930 for Frantiek Müller and his wife, Milada Müllerová. The house is an example of both the influential architect’s theories and this (at the time) cutting-edge technique because the client owned a company that specialised in reinforced concrete.

The Villa incorporates in its exterior design the ideas of the architect outlined in his influential book “Ornament and Crime,” with its cubic form and white, minimalist façade. 

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Villa Muller by Adolf Loos in Prague_©https://adolfloos.cz/en/villa-muller

A characteristic arrangement in Loos buildings is when the perpendicular distribution advances from the common areas on the ground floor towards the more private ones on the upper stories. It is designed as an interior promenade beginning in the entrance room and continuing to the hall with a high jump of 1.2 m. Two systems can be used from the basement to the top of the house: a continuous “conventional” staircase that follows the south facade and is connected to areas like the kitchen and a noncontiguous one that offers access to the various rooms from stepped platforms.

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Villa Muller Section_©https://www.constructingarchitect.com/what-is-raumplan/
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Interior of Villa Muller showcasing Loos’s Raumplan concept_©https://adolfloos.cz/en/villa-muller

Visual connections between the various spaces are made possible by the Raumplan concept, typically developed around the central stairs. Between the spaces, punctured walls frame the views in a diagonal orientation, giving the interior a dramatic character often described as “voyeuristic“.

Underlying Philosophy of “Ornament and Crime”

“Ornamentation is a crime.” is a famous phrase from the distinguished architect Adolf Loos. Loos believed that the evolution of culture could be achieved only when the removal of ornamentation from utilitarian objects happens. According to him, humans started to do art in pursuit of pleasure. But these days, making art hardly pleasures humankind and is just another way of earning money; in other words, it is forced labour and slavery under the creation of ornaments.

Loos affirmed that an ornament does not bring or heighten the level of joy in one’s life even when the decoration is considered ‘beautiful’. He jibed that the destruction caused by the aesthetic development of revival of a decoration that otherwise can be restored more simply about its function is a waste of human labour, money, time, and raw materials

The fact that the ornamentor has to spend almost twice or more hours working than a modern man to earn the same amount of income suggests that ornamentation is deceitful. Loos insists that eliminating ornamentation will result in reduced manufacturing time and increased wages for labourers or workers. He elaborates considering a hypothetical situation that if there were no concept of ornamentation, one would have to work for only half the time one works today as these days more time is devoted to the ornamentation of the products and accessories. Ornament is hence, wasted labour power and human health.

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Adolf Loos’s “Ornament and Crime” exhibition poster from 1913, Vienna_©https://eliftigdemir.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/f006d-ornament.jpeg

Loos pointed out that if all the objects lasted aesthetically as long as they did physically, then the consumer could pay a price that would enable the worker to earn more money and work for lesser hours. However, since this does not happen and no one is willing to pay a valid value for the work, the workers suffer. The quality of many products these days could be more durable, and ornamented things sometimes create an unaesthetic effect. There are ornamentors for whom the hours they work are their holy hours. Paying such workers an extra sum but depriving them of the freedom to ornament the product might make them despair. He contended that being free of decoration is a sign of spiritual fortitude.

Explicit Interpretation of Loos’s Ideology

In today’s times, the world is a mess filled with harsh judgements and hypocrites. Most people are forced to live under veils of happiness, beauty, royalty, and all sorts of fantastic and unreal fantasies instead of letting them embrace themselves as they are. People are pressured to stand up to society’s standards, threatening their raw selves, originality, and simplicity. Unnecessary ornamentation brings complication even to the simplest things in life.

References:

Articles

1) Adolf Loos. (2017). The Villa Müller. [online] Available at: https://adolfloos.cz/en/villa-muller.

2) Constructing Architect. (2018). What is raumplan? [online] Available at: https://www.constructingarchitect.com/what-is-raumplan/.

3) Rawn, E. (2017). Spotlight: Adolf Loos. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/576187/spotlight-adolf-loos.

4) ResearchGate. (2021). The_Origins_and_Context_of_Adolf_Loos’s_Ornament_and_Crime. [online] Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication.

5) The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica (2018). Adolf Loos | Austrian architect. In: Encyclopædia Britannica. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Adolf-Loos.

6) Wikipedia Contributors (2019). Adolf Loos. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Loos.

7) Wikipedia Contributors (2018). Ornament and Crime. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ornament_and_Crime.

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