Home Tour: Adolf LoosThe Austrian architect laid the foundations for unornamented modernism.

Home Tour: Adolf LoosThe Austrian architect laid the foundations for unornamented modernism.

  • Words Mark Baker
  • Photography Christian Møller Andersen

The celebrated Brno-born modern architect Adolf Loos (1870–1933), who worked in the years before World War I and during the decade after, is considered a visionary for rejecting conscious ornamentation in favor of allowing a building’s function to guide its design.

At the time, he was derided by many: When he designed the Looshaus on Vienna’s prestigious Michaelerplatz—a building clad from the waist down in smooth marble and sporting unadorned windows set out along a simple grid—critics mocked it as having “windows without eyebrows.” Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph I, known for his highly conservative tastes, loathed it.

But Loos’ daring also won him a wide swath of admirers. His buildings represented an important rejection of both the 19th-century historicist architecture...

ISSUE 52

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