Loos, My Love

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Of all the architects in Prague, I must say Adolf Loos is my favorite. Why? Because of his holistic approach for buildings in a self-proclaimed style that allows for constant changes in decorations. One of his best pieces in my opinion and of several other experts is the Müller Villa commissioned by Dr. Mueller for his family in 1930. The significance of the building however is not just about the construction of the building or architectural style. It is in fact both of these and many more; it is about the design and fitting the structure into its man built fortress disguised by nature; it is about the privacy of space and use of Loos’ famous Raumplan to fixate each room on an axis relying on doors only when necessary (such as for hall closets, cupboards, etc.); it is about the decoration and utilizing only old styles when they are authentic to the past and producing new style to accent and bridge traditional to modern; the house is a complete work of intellect and visual articulation.

When we visited the home this morning, we were informed we could not take photographs inside the house or in the garden. I attempted to get a few before we were informed of this fact, but failed at snapping one at the entrance of the interior. Nevertheless, the Villa was more than I had expected. Loos planned each room according to function, yet elaborated on the aesthetic choices of this new style. Every piece was carefully selected or designed for a specific purpose. For example, the furniture in the living room, the chairs and sofas (if not already pulled from a different period, which meant the pieces were actually made during that era and NOT REPLICATED) were precisely thought out and customized specifically for sitting positions. The Ladies Study contained a small booth type space for a string quartet, but also had a low ceiling for the intimacy of chatter. The closet spaces were spacious and catered to function especially in the positioning of light sources both natural and artificial. The terrace contained a rectangular hole punched in an extended sidewall that framed the view of Prague. Essentially there is no mistake in this home. Everything is intentional, and everything has a reason behind its placement.

Which brings me to my next point, the restoration and renovation.  When the home was sold the Decorative Arts Museum of Prague, and extensive renovation and restoration of over a year commenced. Yes, it is both because not only was the Villa restored, but also several pieces were re invented due to either being missing, stolen, or destroyed. However, one point I must reflect upon is the irony of renovation. I am completely happy that the Villa was restored precisely as possible to its original design Loos had in mind, for aesthetic purposes. From the garden plans to his own Raumplan and interior design, everything was put back in tact. However, Loos was a strong believer in reuse and only producing new designs, strictly no replications. Perhaps for originality, or perhaps for the sake of scarcity, incorporation of classical furniture were selected from antiques and not remade. In the restoration however, some furniture had to be entirely reconstructed. I am not sure if Loos would agree with pride or be baffled at the fact that they attempted to copy a style not of our time. One loophole, regardless, is that when recreating any aspect of the renovation and restoration, only the technology of the period was used in order to capture the same atmosphere Adolf Loos had so successfully embodied. The Mueller Villa is an icon of the cubic style, a demigod of color coordination in design, and the masterpiece of a marriage between traditional and modern. Adolf Loos created the perfect experiment turned architectural idol. Regardless of the irony, the Müller Villa serves as an inspiration to myself to create a design whatever subject it may be as seamless as the work of the master architect Adolf Loos.

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