Brno 1870

Kalksburg 1933

Adolf Loos is a world-renowned architect. He is considered to be the founder of a modern concept of architecture and is one of the most well-known pre-war modern architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Frank Loyd Wright. Loos was not only a practical architect but he was also a significant theorist of architecture and, to a certain extent, a philosopher too.  Adolf Loos was born in 1870 in Brno. His parents owned a quarry and custom stonework. The experience of the family business formed later in his career his relationship to high- quality and interesting materials. He studied architecture in Dresden. However, he did not finish his studies, not because of the lack of talent, but because of his conflicts with teachers. He left Europe after studies for a three-year stay in the United States (1893-1896), where he experienced manual work. The dynamically developing United States made a huge impression on young Adolf Loos and influenced his future attitude towards architecture. After returning from the United States, he settled in Vienna where he founded his own atelier. At that time, he began to publish his theoretical thoughts on architecture. The most famous of those publications was his thesis "About Ornament and Crime" which literally changed the history of architecture. Adolf Loos radically rejected any artificial decorative features in architecture, and he was the first architect to liberate buildings from used decorative elements both in exteriors and interiors. Instead of unnecessary decoration he paid a lot of attention to interior layout. 

 

An important element in Loos' design is so-called raumplan. Loos claimed that the area of a room and its function was the determining factor for the height of the room and therefore various rooms in the house should differ in height. The houses designed by Adolf Loos were not divided into classical floors as it is commonly known. In Loos-designed houses we often move within floors such as 1 and ¼, 2 and ¾ etc. Always after moving several stairs up or down we find ourselves in another room. He created continuously adjoining spaces in which the inhabitants could move freely. He claimed that his houses are designed in three dimensions (in 3D), and the use of raumplan is then the result of Loos's perfect spatial thinking and imagination.

 

The most famous Loos realization is the multifunctional department store Goldman & Salatsch (1910) in the Michal’s Square in Vienna. The appearance of the house, completed for the first time ever with smooth facades and without any decorative elements, caused a huge scandal at that time. Today it is a valuable monument and a reminder of the beginnings of modern architecture. Loos primarily designed buildings for living, but among his designs there is also a bar, a café, a mountain cottage, and others. His designs can be found all over Europe, apart from Vienna also in Paris, Montreux, Semmering. In our country, he designed Müller's villa in Prague, but his work can be found elsewhere, for example in his birth place Brno and its surroundings. Loos' stay in Pilsen became a separate chapter of his life. Between the years 1907 and 1932, he created many interesting interior realizations here. In Pilsen, he met Klara Beck, the daughter of his prominent investor Otto Beck, who later became his third wife. In 1933, Loos dies at the Kalksburg sanatorium near Vienna.

Adolf Loos

and Pilsen

At the beginning of the 20th century, Pilsen was a dynamically developing industrial city. The most important enterprise in the city was the Škoda plants, the largest factory complex in the whole of Austria-Hungary Empire at that time, which achieved both production quality and volume at world level. Pilsen breweries were famous too. In addition to these factories, many other small-scale but very successful companies were founded in Pilsen. Many these small companies were owned by the well-educated Pilsen Jewish community. Among those rich Jewish people in Pilsen there was the Hirsch family which owned a drawn wire factory. In 1907, Vilém Hirsch and his wife Marta met the architect Adolf Loos in Vienna and they were very impressed with his realizations there. Loos accepted their invitation for a visit and in the same year he arrived in Pilsen. The Hirsch family then asked him to create a design of the apartment reconstruction which was located on the first floor of their house at 6 Plachého Street. Vilém Hirsch later recalled how Loos quickly outlined his first idea of the design on an envelope. Thanks to the newly married Hirsch family, Adolf Loos got to Pilsen, which even later in his life played a significant role. Adolf Loos became friends with other families, especially from the local Jewish community as these families were interconnected with both business and family ties. For them, he created at least 13 mostly interior realizations. Of these, only eight have been preserved until recently. And despite not being always preserved in their complete state and great condition, it is an extremely valuable set of designs created by this world-wide known architect.

 

There must be a surprise.
I should enter a fully-lightened
and furnished room
and be forced to say
"Oh!".

Why

was

Adolf Loos

Forgotten

in Pilsen?

public until very recently. Many of the original owners from the Jewish community were killed in Nazi concentration camps during the World War II, only some of them managed to escape abroad in time. Those who were fortunate enough to survive the war abroad had their property confiscated by the communist totalitarian regime after the war. They were forced to flee to exile once again and those who decided to stay here had to live in degrading conditions. The totalitarian regime did not value designs of Adolf Loos at all.  The apartments were changed into offices or they were divided into several smaller apartment units. Much of the original apartment equipment was destroyed at that time. At the end of the 1960s, the architecture historian Věra Běhalová managed to register most of Loos' work in Pilsen for heritage preservation. Věra Běhalová was persecuted by the communist secret police of STB, but fortunately in 1968 she managed to escape to Austria. Loos' work in Pilsen fell back into oblivion for many years. It was only after the fall of the communist totalitarian regime that the descendants of the Brummel family first started their gradual reconstruction of their house at 58 Husova Street which they regained into possession. The city of Pilsen made the first steps in 2004 to rescue the apartment of the Vogls in 12 Klatovská Street and partially restored the salon and the dining room. The complete renovation of these premises was completed in 2014 and in the same year the apartment of the Kraus family at 10 Bendova Street was reconstructed. The first part of the Oskar Semler’s apartment at 110 Klatovská Street was also repaired. This apartment is under administration of the Gallery of West Bohemia in Pilsen. These four apartments create the basis of the three guided tours regularly available to public which are run by the Pilsen-TOURISM organization. Other premises in Pilsen which were designed by Adolf Loos keep waiting for their rescue. It is the common goal for the future to reconstruct and make available to public most of what has been preserved from the work of this prominent architect.

I force the owners
to use the whole apartment
for living,
not only
its kitchen.