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Adolf Loos

Adolf Loos
Born Adolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos
(1870-12-10)10 December 1870
Brünn (Brno), Austria-Hungary
Died 23 August 1933(1933-08-23) (aged 62)
Vienna, Austria
Buildings Steiner House, Goldman & Salatsch Building (Looshaus)

Adolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos[1] (10 December 1870 – 23 August 1933) was an Austrian and Czechoslovak architect. He was influential in European Modern architecture, and in his essay Ornament and Crime he abandoned the aesthetic principles of the Vienna Secession. In this and many other essays he contributed to the elaboration of a body of theory and criticism of Modernism in architecture and design.


  • Life 1
  • Architectural theory 2
  • Major works 3
  • Legacy 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Loos was born on 10 December 1870 in Brno in the Moravia region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father, a German stonemason, died when Loos was nine.[2] Loos attended a technical school in Liberec and later studied at Dresden University of Technology.

In 1893 Loos travelled to the United States for three years. In his first year he visited the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He visited St. Louis and did odd jobs in New York. Loos returned to Vienna in 1896 and became friends with Ludwig Wittgenstein, Arnold Schönberg, Peter Altenberg and Karl Kraus. Loos visited the island of Skyros in 1904 and was influenced by the cubic architecture of the Greek islands. When the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed after World War I Loos was awarded Czechoslovakian citizenship by President Masaryk.[2]

Loos was married three times. In July 1902, he married drama student Carolina Catherina Obertimpfler. The marriage ended three years later in 1905. In 1919, he married 20-year-old Austrian-born Elsie Altmann, a dancer and operetta star and daughter of Adolf Altmann and Jeannette Gruenblatt. They divorced seven years later in 1926. In 1929 he married writer and photographer Claire Beck. She was the daughter of his clients Otto and Olga Beck, and 35 years his junior. They were divorced on 30 April 1932.[3] Following their divorce, Claire Loos wrote Adolf Loos Privat, a literary work of snapshot-like vignettes about Loos' character, habits and sayings, published by the Johannes-Presse in Vienna in 1936. The book was intended to raise funds for Loos' tomb.

In 1918 Loos was diagnosed with cancer. His stomach, appendix and part of his intestine were removed. By the time he was 50 he was nearly deaf. In 1928 Loos was disgraced by a pedophilia scandal. He died aged 62 on 23 August 1933 in Kalksburg near Vienna.[4] Loos' body was taken to Vienna's Zentralfriedhof to rest among the great artists and musicians of the city, including Schoenberg, Altenberg and Kraus, some of his closest friends and associates.[3]

Architectural theory

Loos authored several polemical works. In Spoken into the Void, published in 1900, he attacked the Vienna Secession, at a time when the movement was at its height.[5]

In his essays, Loos used provocative catchphrases and is noted for the essay/manifesto entitled

Loos was also interested in the decorative arts, collecting sterling silver and high quality leather goods, which he noted for their plain yet luxurious appeal. He also enjoyed fashion and men's clothing, designing the famed Kníže of Vienna, a haberdashery. His admiration for the fashion and culture of England and America can be seen his short-lived publication Das Andere, which ran for just two issues in 1903 and included advertisements for 'English' clothing.[5] In 1920, he had a brief collaboration with Frederick John Kiesler - architect, theater and art-exhibition designer.

Major works

Looshaus in Michaelerplatz, Vienna.
  • 1899 Café Museum, Vienna
  • 1904 Villa Karma, Montreux, Switzerland
  • 1907 Field Christian Cross, Radesinska Svratka, Czech Republic
  • 1908 American Bar (formerly the Kärntner Bar), Vienna
  • 1910 Steiner House, Vienna
  • 1910 Goldman & Salatsch Building, overlooking Michaelerplatz, Vienna (a mixed-use building known colloquially as the "Looshaus")
  • 1913 Scheu House, Vienna
  • 1915 Sugar mill, Hrušovany u Brna, Czech Republic
  • 1915-16 Villa Duschnitz (re-model), Vienna
  • 1917 House for sugar mill owner, Hrušovany u Brna, Czech Republic
  • 1922 Rufer House, Vienna
  • 1925 Maison Tzara, house and studio, Montmartre, Paris, for Tristan Tzara, one of the founders of Dadaism, GIS coordinates: +48.888146, +2.335500
  • 1926 Villa Moller, Vienna
  • 1927 House (not built), Paris, for the American entertainer Josephine Baker
  • 1928 Villa Müller, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 1929 Khuner Villa, Kreuzberg, Austria
  • 1932 Villa Winternitz, Na Cihlářce 10, Praha 5, Czech Republic
  • 1928–1933 many residential interiors in Pilsen, Czech Republic


Through his writings and his groundbreaking projects in Vienna, Loos was able to influence other architects and designers, and the early development of Modernism. His careful selection of materials, passion for craftsmanship and use of 'Raumplan'-the considered ordering and size of interior spaces based on function—are still admired.[7]


  • Bock, Ralf (2007). Adolf Loos. Geneve: Skira.  
  • Coppa, Alessandra (2013). Adolf Loos. Milan, Italy: 24 ore cultura.  
  • Foster, Hal (2003). Design and Crime (And other diatribes). London: Verso.  
  • Gravagnuolo, Benedetto (1995). Adolf Loos, Theory and Works. London: Art Data.  
  • Loos, Adolf (2 May 2007). On Architecture. Ariadne Press. p. 216.  
  • Loos, Adolf; Adolf Opel (15 November 1997). Ornament and Crime: Selected Essays. Ariadne Press (CA). p. 204.  
  • Loos, Adolf (1982). Trotzdem, 1900–1930 (in German). G. Prachner. p. 218.  
  • Loos, Adolf; Heinrich Kulka (1931). Adolf Loos: Das Werk des Architekten (in German). Anton Schroll & Co, Neues Bauen in Der Welt, IV. 
  • Loos, Adolf (1983). Die Potemkin'sche Stadt: Verschollene Schriften, 1897–1933 (in German). Prachner. p. 231.  
  • Masheck, Joseph (2013). Adolf Loos - The Art of Architecture. New York: I. B. Tauris. p. 263.  
  • Oechslin, Werner, "Stilhülse und Kern : Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos und der evolutionäre Weg zur modernen Architektur", Zuerich 1994.
  • Ottillinger, Eva (1994). Adolf Loos Wohnkonzepte und Möbelentwürfe. Salzburg: Residenz Verlag.  
  • Rukschcio, Burkhardt; Schachel, Roland (1982). Adolf Loos-Leben Und Werk. Salzburg: Residenz.  
  • Adolf Loos: Our Contemporary (New York, Columbia GSAPP, 2013), eds. Y. Safran and Cristobal Amunategui.Published on the occasion of the traveling exhibition "Adolf Loos: Our Contemporary," a cooperation between Columbia University GSAPP in New York, the MAK in Vienna, and the CAAA in Guimaraes. Essays by Beatriz Colomina, Hermann Czech, Rainald Franz, Benedetto Gravagnuolo, Christopher Long, Can Onaner, Daniel Sherer, Philip Ursprung.
  • Tournikiotis, Panayiotis (1996). Adolf Loos. Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press.  


  1. ^ Andrews, Brian (2010). "Ornament and Materiality in the Work of Adolf Loos". Material Making: The Process of Precedent. p.438. Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Adolf Loos: Life and influence". Royal Institute of British Architects. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Loos, Claire Beck (2011). Adolf Loos – A Private Portrait. Los Angeles, CA: DoppelHouse Press. 
  4. ^ Bock, Ralf (2007). Adolf Loos. Geneve: Skira.  
  5. ^ a b "Adolf Loos: Writings". Royal Institute of British Architects. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  6. ^ Janet Stewart, Fashioning Vienna: Adolf Loos's Cultural Criticism, London: Routledge, 2000, p. 173
  7. ^ "Adolf Loos: Raumplan". Royal Institute of British Architects. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 

External links

  • Adolf Loos online exhibition images, podcasts and video about Loos' life and work. Royal Institute of British Architects
  • Adolf Loos, Vienna 1900 & Austrian Modern Architecture
  • Adolf Loos biography 1870–1933 WOKA Lamps Vienna
  • Muirhead, Thomas. "Adolf Loos seen through the keyhole". Building Design. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
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