B. Brunn, Czechoslovakia 1870; d. 1933




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Adolf Loos

(b. Brunn, Czechoslovakia 1870; d. 1933)

Adolf Loos was born in Brunn, Czechoslovakia in 1870. His studies at the Royal and Imperial State Technical College in Rechenberg, Bohemia were cut short by a two year stint in the army. After he attended the College of Technology in Dresden for three years, he worked in the U.S. as a mason, a floor-layer and a dish-washer. He eventually obtained a job with the architect Carl Mayreder and in 1897 he established his own practice. He taught for several years throughout Europe, but returned to practice in Vienna in 1928.

Adolf Loos gained greater notoriety for his writings than for his buildings. Loos wanted an intelligently established building method supported by reason. He believed that everything that could not be justified on rational grounds was superfluous and should be eliminated. Loos recommended pure forms for economy and effectiveness. He rarely considered how this "effectiveness" could correspond to rational human needs.

Loos argued against decoration by pointing to economic and historical reasons for its development, and by describing the suppression of decoration as necessary to the regulation of passion. He believed that culture resulted from the renunciation of passions and that which brings man to the absence of ornamentation generates spiritual power.

Loos attacked contemporary design as well as the imitative styling of the nineteenth century. He looked on contemporary decoration as mass-produced, mass-consumed trash. Loos acted as a model and a seer for architects of the 1920s. His fight for freedom from the decorative styles of the nineteenth century led a campaign for future architects.

References
Muriel Emmanuel. Contemporary Architects. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980. ISBN 0-312-16635-4. NA 680-C625. p479-481.

http://www.mullerovavila.cz/english/historie-e.html

The Villa was built for himself and his wife Milada by the important Bohemian construction entrepreneur Ing. Dr. František Müller. He was the co-owner of the major Czech building firm Kapsa & Müller, founded in Plzeň (Pilsen) in 1870 by his and his partner's fathers; the company specialised in reinforced concrete industrial, transport and water-related structures and public buildings, initially in Pilsen and later also in Prague, Mladá Boleslav and elsewhere, and often employed new approaches to construction and new technical methods. At the recommendation of the architect Karel Lhota Dr. M?ller entrusted the design of the villa, with its major representative function, to Adolf Loos, with whom Lhota had worked on several of the latter's commissions in Pilsen. Given Loos' state of health, Lhota also assisted in the realisation of this project, particularly in drawing up the spatial design, as is attested by a surviving contract on clarifying the co-authorship between Loos and Lhota.

Adolf Loos himself designed the interiors, including the light fittings, the fitted and some of the non-fitted furniture. He himself said of the house that it was his most beautiful, and spent his 60th birthday there in the company of a close circle of friends. It was here that he was most perfectly able to embody the ideas of his 'Raumplan'. The severity of the external facade, composed with a refined balance in the asymmetric symmetry of the window apertures, contrasts with the noble elegance of the interiors, even in the ostensibly secondary spaces. The design of the garden was a collaboration between Loos and the German landscape architects Camillo Schneider, Karl Fürster and Hermann Matern.

Nationalisation after 1948 had a decisive impact of the fate of M?ller family. A critical period began in this history of Kapsa & Müller, and also in that of the M?ller Villa, with - after the death of Frantiźek M?ller (1951) - the desperate attempts of Milada Mülllerová and a range of leading figures to save this important architectural monument. The widow was callously confined to a small apartment within the Villa, and the other rooms became offices for other users. The alterations which were carried out within the house in this connection often caused unnecessary damage. On the hand, somewhat paradoxically, the changes in use also led to the monument surviving in an exceptionally well-preserved state.



After the fall of the Communist government the M?ller Villa was returned on the basis of the restitution laws to its builder's daughter, Eva, who subsequently offered it for sale. A media campaign began against the private sale of the Müller Villa to a controversial financier. Thanks to the intervention of the City Council, foreign activists and the local government in Prague 6, the Müller Villa was eventually purchased by the City of Prague. In June 1995 it was then placed under the care of the City of Prague Museum, and was subsequently proclaimed a National Cultural Monument. An extensive reconstruction of the Villa was undertaken in 1998-2000, and on May 24th 2000 the exposition and the Adolf Loos Study and Documentation Centre were formally opened to the public.


Calendar

1928
Sept. 14th Dr. Müller purchases a building plot between the streets Nad hradním vodojemem and Střešovická in Prague-Střešovice
Sept. 30th A contract for the drawing up of plans for the villa is sent to both architects
Nov. 20th Dr. Müller applies for a building permit
Dec. 11th the first investigative commission opens with the condition that the plans will be expanded and it will then continue
Dec. 18th the Regulatory Office issues a position statement in opposition to the building
Dec. 28th building work begins despite the incomplete building permit

1929
Jan. 8th the first investigative commission of the Building Office concludes its work
Jan. 28th the second investigative commission opens to resolve regulatory problems. On the same day, Dr. Müller sends modified plans to the City Council.
Feb. 15th the second investigative commission concludes with the condition that a public stair be built along the north-western side of the plot.
Feb. 19th a further position statement in opposition issued by the Regulatory Office
Feb. 20th the Building Office instructs that work be halted until a legal building permit be issued
March 1st the City Building Commission and City Council meet, and issue a decision that the project be amended in line with the demands of the Regulatory Office
March 16th amended plans for the plot and southern facade sent to the Building Office
April 19th building permit rejected by the City Council
April 26th Dr. Müller appeals to the Provincial Court
June 14th the Provincial Council decides to issue a building permit
June 21st building permit issued on the basis of the revised plans by the City Building Office
July shell completed
Sept. 5th date of
a garden design by Camillo Schneider
Nov. 12th building permit issued for fencing the villa
Nov. 12th building permit issued for the personal and kitchen elevators
Dec. 10th plumbing and sewage fittings within the Villa approved

1930
March 4th Dr. Müller advises that the building is complete
April 5th the Occupancy Commission of the City Council meets, and the building including several changes is approved for occupancy. The house is given the street number 14 and the plot number 642.
May 30th both elevators approved for use

Oct 1931 - Jan. 1932 New garden designs drawn up by Karl F?rster from Potsdam.

1945 the Müller family use 3/8 of the house to cover part of a 'millionaire tax'.

1948 the villa becomes a "tenement", i.e. remains formally in the possession of the original owners, who, however, may not use the building fully nor decide on its lessees

1955
March 15th the Third Industrial Section of the District National Council for Prague 5 decides that part of the Villa space should be used by the Museum of Applied Arts
Aug. 12th the Financial Section of the District National Council for Prague 5 decides on the transfer of the building into the ownership of the Socialist sector.
1959
Dec. 8th the space is divided between the National Gallery and the State Pedagogical Press

1968
Autumn after the death of Milada Müllerová the most important parts of the Villa fittings and collections were purchased by the Museum of Applied Arts and the National Gallery
Oct. 15th the Villa is pronounced a Cultural Monument of the Czechoslovak Republic

1976
March 12th the villa is made over for the use of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, and the archive of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party is installed here

1989 after the events of November the archives of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party are cleared out, and 5/8 of the building is returned to Müller's daughter Eva Maternová

1995 the City of Prague purchases 5/8 of the Villa from Eva Maternˇ and the remaining 3/8 is transferred from the ownership of the the Prague 6 Borough. The building is subsequently transferred to the care of the City of Prague Museum.
Aug. 16th the Müller Villa is proclaimed a National Cultural Monument

1998
Nov. 23rd restoration of the Villa begins

2000
May 12th occupancy approval granted for the building
May 24th the permanent exhibition and Adolf Loos Study Centre within the Villa are formally opened

...

The careful restoration of the Villa and its gardens, and the very sensitive installation of interiors, enable the visitor to experience the year 1930 in a place already written of with wonder and, thanks to a series of publications, known around the world.

Installing the original interiors makes it possible for visitors to fully come to terms with Loos' approach to fittings and to the creation of an environment for the life of its residents. In designing the building Loos acted not just as an architect, but also as a psychologist. This was of benefit to his creation, as he made a house and interiors for specific people and their individual needs. The great priority in the house is that it was not built for those passing it by, but for those living within.



The Müller Villa is one of the most authentic and most completely preserved of Adolf Loos' works, not only in its residential and representative spaces but also in its private spaces, such as the bathroom, lavatory, kitchen and bedrooms. The service areas of the house also survive: the laundry room, cellars, boiler room, garage etc.

The following sections will guide you through the most important of the spaces within the Müller Villa. Clicking on individual pictures will expand them to full-screen size. In several rooms there are also links to virtual reality guides (using QuickTime VR).

Among the most interesting spaces are the corridor, hall, living room, dining toom, kitchen, boudoir, library, bathroom, bedroom, gentleman's dressing room, lady's dressing room, children's room, Study and Documentation Centre, Japanese salon, photographic darkroom, terrace, boiler room and garage.


The corridor






The corridor is arresting with its unusual polychrome harmony, green-tinted opaque tiles and the deep terracotta colour of the floor and the frieze below the ceiling. The red radiator is deliberately set in a conspicuous location. Loos felt that technical elements should be not only part of the functional fittings of the house, but also deserved to contribute to the overall aesthetic appearance of the interiors.




The hall and cloakroom







Here too there is an interesting play of contrasting colours: the floor tiles are the earthy colour of terracotta, while the wooden panelling of the walls, with the repeated square motif known from others of Loos' interiors, is painted white. The colours of the space are rounded off by the surprisingly deep blue ceiling, the colour of an early evening Venetian sky. The hall includes a cloakroom with pegs and a mirror, set into a broad niche with Japanese hangings.



The living room






The living room was at the centre of the cultural life of the family and the wider circle of their friends. The composition of the room is outstanding evidence of Loos' original concept for the creation of space, known as "Raumplan". The living room is connected to the dining room on the mezzanine and with the lady's boudoir, to which a spiral staircase leads. The open staircase then continues on to the upper floors. The realisation of this spatial conception enabled the reduction of one entire wall to three load-bearing pillars, creating in this way an unusual, visually rich and articulated space. Various types of seating concentrate around the circular table in the centre. The two armchairs of similar shape and unusual appearance are striking in the contrasting colours of their velvet covers: one, intended for the master of the house, is olive green and somewhat larger, while the second, for the lady, is pink. In addition to still views of the living room a virtual tour has also been prepared.

The dining room








The centrepiece of the living room is a round table carried on a single octagonal leg. The tabletop can be enlarged by the insertion of one or two mahogany leaves to a diameter of 170 or 230 cm, offering enough space for 12 or 18 diners. The dining room has two open walls, to the living room and onto the stairs leading upstairs. The latter could be closed by hangings. Along one of the solid walls two cubes flank fitted furnishings include a folding syenite sideboard, above which Loos installed a group of oil paintings by the important Czech Symbolist, Jan Preisler.
In addition to still views of the dining room a virtual tour has also been prepared.

The kitchen








The kitchen fittings were extremely modern for the time of the Villa's building. They represent the "American kitchen", where overall the fittings were designed to make the preparation of food and the serving of the family as easy as possible. The kitchen furniture is made of soft wood, painted yellow. The small number of storage spaces in the kitchen was facilitated by the size of the pantry and the large number of shelves in the basement. The kitchen had a dumbwaiter linking it to the floor above.

The boudoir








The boudoir is the most articulated room in the house. Here, Loos jokingly composed a relatively small room according to the principles of "Raumplan", and divided it into two horizontal levels: the first, upper level comprises a narrow passage giving out onto a niche with corner seating, where the lady of the house could pass the time with friends, while sometimes following events in the living room, and the second, lower level was intended for Mrs Müller's afternoon rest.
In addition to still views of the budoir a virtual tour has also been prepared.

The library








The library appears very serious and formal, thanks in particular to the dark tones of the mahogany panelling and fitted shelving, as well as to the placing here of two dark leather couches. The original detailing of the writing desk confirms Loos' design of it. Opposite the desk is a large mirror, and beneath this a fireplace with Delftware tile cladding.



The bathroom








The bathroom is regarded as one of the most beautiful interiors in the house. It has been restored to its original condition, and contains luxurious Twyfords brand fittings.

The bedroom









The bedroom has furniture made from American pearwood. Above each bed is a standard lamp with a textile shade. The bedroom walls are covered with their original, restored tapestries with maritime motifs, brought from France.

The gentleman's dressing room








The gentleman's dressing room seems austere. The cupboards are of uniform appearance and are complemented by a wardrobe of the same height. The fitted wardrobes have sliding rails for coat hangers and there is a mirrors on the inside of the door. The airing cupboard has sliding shelves of the English type.

The lady's dressing room









The lady's dressing room is light and refined, as is also clear from its plan, which is not right-angled: one of the shorter walls finishes in an arc, into which three tall mirrors have been arranged. At the sides of the windows are two tall, cubist cupboards for shoes and hats; between them is a toiletry table with two rows of pegs on the side and a folding central leaf, with a mirror on the underside. The wardrobes have their original pivoted hangers joined by chains, and the airing cupboards have sliding shelves of the English type.

The children's rooms









The children's rooms have yellow and blue painted softwood furniture. The red radiators are again an irreplaceable coloured component. The playroom also contained a coloured blackboard.

The housekeeper's and maid's rooms


now housing the Adolf Loos Study and Documentation Centre (SDC)








The project to restore the Müller Villa building also included the creation of the Adolf Loos Study and Documentation Centre, which now occupies what were previously the housekeeper's and maid's rooms. The SDC aims to become an exclusive centre for research into and the interpretation of Loos' work, his pupils and followers, making it possible to broaden the importance and function of the building beyond the framework of merely being a static monument.

The Japanese Salon









The interior of this dining room in a Japanising style betrays the marks of coffee-house aesthetics of the 1920's and 1930's. It is of a type very popular at the time - a dining room with fitted buffet, above which was a mirror. The furniture was made to measure, painted green with black detailing. The round table on a single leg is similar in shape to that in the lower dining room. The light wood tabletop cannot, however, be expanded to match the number of diners. The couch at the end of the room, again set between two cubes, is upholstered using an unusual material - horsehair, which was cooling in the hot summer.

The photographic darkroom









Today this contains a permanent exhibition devoted to the life and work of Adolf Loos and the history of the Müller Villa. This exposition is not merely informative, but must also guide visitors through their spiritual discovery of the house.



The terrace









The terrace has an unpaired window which once framed the view of Prague Castle; today the view is partially obscured by the trees in the neighbouring garden. Water is available on the terrace - there is a shower here, as well as flowers in pots - according to eyewitnesses, originally set with golden nasturtiums.

The boiler room








The boiler room contains two original Stroebel boilers. These have survived along with the original tools for servicing them. The boiler room walls are white with a dark plinth, matching their original state. During reconstruction the central heating was linked to a gas boiler; the boiler room remains to document the technical outfitting of the period.

The garage









The garage was designed to hold two cars. Today it contains a single car of the period.




http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/villamueller/index.htm







 

Villa Müller
Nad Hradním vodojemem 14
CZ 162 00 Prague 6 - Střešovice
Czech Republic

Adolf Loos 1930

Completed in the same year as Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye in Paris and Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat in Brno, the Villa Müller is Loos’s defining modern house in an era when rich, progressive industrialists were the source of modernist commissions. In Loos’s case the client owned a building company pioneering the use of reinforced concrete, so the house was a particularly relevant showcase.

While Frank Lloyd Wright was perfecting the seamlessness of the transition from inside to outside, Loos was deliberately keeping the public outside and the private inside of his houses as separate as possible. "The building should be dumb outside and only reveal wealth inside." Outside, the Villa Müller is distinguished by its cubic shape, with flat roof and terraces, its irregular windows and its clean, white façade.



Inside, the Villa Müller is at once more traditional and more original. The materials are warm,  rich and comforting, and the furniture a deliberately eclectic mix of traditional styles. The client is not required to conform to some all-consuming modern lifestyle. On the other hand the spatial planning of the building is where Loos was most innovative.



The Villa Müller is, in Loos's own view, his best application of his spatial planning or "Raumplan":

My architecture is not conceived by drawings, but by spaces. I do not draw plans, facades or sections... For me, the ground floor, first floor do not exist... There are only interconnected continual spaces, rooms, halls, terraces... Each space needs a different height... These spaces are connected so that ascent and descent are not only unnoticeable, but at the same time functional.

 

This spatial design, finished with luxurious and vibrant marbles, woods and silks, “combined innovative architectural design with the cultural conception that the upper middle class had of itself” (August Sarnitz).



Loos uses the different levels of the Raumplan to create a careful “architectural promenade” from outside to inside. The first entrance way is low, with strong but dark colors such as deep green/blue tiles. This opens onto a cloakroom area that is generous in plan, brighter with white walls and a big window, but still low. At the far end a short, modest staircase takes the visitor round a right-angle bend, emerging dramatically between marble pillars into the double-height, open-plan sitting room.

The promenade continues past the raised dining room to the upper floors of the house, the Raumplan providing unusual and exciting views  into adjacent rooms. On the top level is a roof terrace, with a “window” in the freestanding end wall to frame the view of Prague cathedral.

Simon Glynn 2005

 




How to visit

The Villa Müller was comprehensively restored in 2000 and is open to the public, operated as part of the City of Prague Museum. It is open only on certain days of the week,  and can be visited only on a guided tour (in English or Czech) at pre-defined times. It is therefore essential that you book your visit in advance, which you can do at the Villa Müller’s web site. You can also try calling +420 224 312 012 or email vila.muller@muzeumprahy.cz.

The Villa is in the Střešovice area to the northwest of Prague’s city center.  To get there, take Tram 18 to the Ořechovka stop. Walk forward to the end of the tram stop and you will see the Villa Müller up the hillside on your left. You can climb a public stepped path just beyond the Villa to reach the front entrance of the building.

Further visitor information, history, photographs and directions are at the Villa Müller’s web site.



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"My architecture is not conceived in plans, but in spaces (cubes). I do not design floor plans, facades, sections. I design spaces. For me, there is no ground floor, first floor etc.... For me, there are only contiguous, continual spaces, rooms, anterooms, terraces etc. Storeys merge and spaces relate to each other. Every space requires a different height: the dining room is surely higher than the pantry, thus the ceilings are set at different levels. To join these spaces in such a way that the rise and fall are not only unobservable but also practical, in this I see what is for others the great secret, although it is for me a great matter of course. Coming back to your question, it is just this spatial interaction and spatial austerity that thus far I have best been able to realise in Dr Müller's house"

Adolf Loos, Shorthand record of a conversation in Plzeň (Pilsen), 1930



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Exterior view, street and side facades

LinksLocation: Czech Republic (574) | Středočeský (375) | Prague (294)

Architect: Loos, Adolf (2)Period: 20th century (5628)

Type: Houses (2806)Style: house: International style (modern European architecture style) (75)

Keywordscubes (18) | flat roofs (70) | functionalism (1) | terraces (175)




Muller House

Stresovice, Prague, Czech Republic

Loos, Adolf     more

1929-1930

Photograph
Type: A-negative
Negative number: A91/1141
Copyright: © Courtauld Institute of Art










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Welcome to the Internet homepage of the Müller Villa in Prague, where we are delighted to be able to offer you the chance to learn more about this unique monument to Modern architecture, without parallel in the Czech Republic in terms of its importance and singularity, and one of the six most significant villa-style houses of the Twentieth Century.

The realisation of this, the most important of Adolf Loos' works in the Czech Lands, would have been unthinkable without the perfect understanding that existed between the architect and the investors - the M¸ller family. Their harmonious relationship, underpinned by mutual respect and faithful friendship, created the ideal foundations for the building of the architectural work. During their many consultations the M¸llers revealed much about their private life to the architect, who was endowed with intuition and social sensitivity. For their contentment he created a multi-purpose, universal dwelling combining both formal and intimate functions. In this way a work was created that spoke of architecture rooted in an intellectual basis, now both unusual and yet contemporary.



"The house should be like by all. Unlike a work of art, which does not require anyone to like it. The work of art is the private affair of the artist. The house is not. The work of art is sent out into the world, without anyone needing it. The house fulfils certain requirements. The work of art is not answerable to anyone, the house to everyone. A work of art seeks to draw people out of their comfort. The house should serve comfort. The work of art is revolutionary, the house conservative. The work of art shows humanity new paths and thinks of the future; the house thinks of the present. Man loves everything that serves his comfort. He hates all that seeks to draw him from his customary and secure state, and all that constricts him. And thus I love the house and hate art."

Adolf Loos, Architektura ('Architecture'), 1910.



Bird's-eye view of the Villahttp://www.mullerovavila.cz/english/vila-e.html


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