Looshaus, Michaelerplatz, Vienna

Looshaus, Michaelerplatz, Vienna
© Keith Collie/RIBA Library Photographs Collection 


The Looshaus: A talk by Christopher Long by The RIBA


Christopher Long, historian of Central European architecture and design from the University of Texas, gives a presentation on Loos's work, with a particular focus on the famous Looshaus in Vienna.

Talk recorded 8 March 2011, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London

The building on Michaelerplatz is Adolf Loos's most famous work and also one of the earliest Modernist buildings in Europe. It is situated in the heart of Vienna where the Kohlmarkt and Herrengasse meet the square, giving the building a prominent location and - due to the uneven shape of the site - three facades of different lengths. Against the imperial backdrop of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture adorned with statuary and applied decoration, Loos's clean and modern design stripped of ornament was seen as an affront to the city and to the Hofburg Palace on the other side of the Michaelerplatz.

Ironically, the archive of Loos, saved by the RIBA during WWII, is now with the Albertina, which is housed in part of the former palace complex. There was hostile reception to Loos's design from the press and there were calls during construction to redesign the facade, which the client, tailor Goldman & Salatsch, resisted.

Construction began in 1909 after a limited competition and, despite the ensuing controversy, the building was completed in 1911 when Goldman & Salatsch were able to move into its new premises. With the growth of Loos's fame, and later re-evaluation of his place as a progenitor of Modernism, the building is now referred to as Looshaus.


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