Goldman & Salatsch Building (Looshaus) 1910, Vienna, Austria // Adolf Loos

Form from within

Against his context of the Art Nouveau, Looshaus is a seminal example of how Adolf Loos re-defined form as resistance to ornament in the public realm. Rejecting historicism and ornaments used by the Weiner Secession, the Looshaus was a shock during its context and known as the ‘house without eyebrows’. Rather than focus on the decorative facade, Loos prioritised form making on experience and touch from within. This was achieved through rich materiality, particularly ‘”smooth and precious surfaces”. The interior lobby and staircase is lined with polished timber, marble and mirrored surfaces. Instead of the façade full of symbols and sculptures to signify that within, Looshaus is the opposite, where the rich materials break out from the interior to the outside. Yet, they only continue to the human scale on ground floor, forming a sharp contrast to the plain white walls of the residential apartments above. It was this lack of regard for the whole exterior form that infuriated Emperor Franz Joseph, who hided the windows of the Imperial Palace to not see the “ugly” building.

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Figure 1. Google street view | Contrast of the Looshaus facade in the context of a very ornamented and sculptural street style. The building on the left was Emperor Franz Joseph’s Imperial Palace.
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Figure 2. Interior phtograph | Rich natural materials such as timber panelled walls and a marble floor is accentuated in space through mirrors. 
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Figure 3. Lower Mezzanine Floor plan
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Figure 4. Section AA | The ceiling height is varied according to the program of use.

 

 

 

 

Figure 5. Photograph of facade and digital manipulation (right)

References

  1. Google street view screenshot
  2. “Looshaus House on Michaelerplatz” 1909-1911. Columbia University. In Artstor accessed September 27, 2017.  http://library.artstor.org.eproxy2.lib.hku.hk/#/asset/AWSS35953_35953_34648336
  3. Bock, Ralf and Loos, Adolf. “Adolf Loos: Works and Projects”. London: Rizzoli International Publications, Incorporated, 2007. 121
  4. Bock, Ralf and Loos, Adolf. “Adolf Loos: Works and Projects”. London: Rizzoli International Publications, Incorporated, 2007. 122
  5. Bouchard, Karen. “Goldman & Salatsch Building View Description: exterior, front” 1910, Brown University. In Artstor accessed September 27, 2017.  http://library.artstor.org.eproxy2.lib.hku.hk/#/asset/ASAHARAIG_111211354206

By Vernon Wai-Lun Cheung, MArch, Group A

 

 

 

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