Steiner House
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Architect Adolf Loos
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Location Vienna, Austria   map
Date 1910   timeline
Building Type house
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style Early Modern
Notes simple, plain, Modern garden facade
Images

 


Perspective engraving

Photo

Photo
Drawings

 


Plan Drawing

Section Drawing

Discussion Steiner House Commentary

"As the authorities would only grant planning permission for a one-storey house with a converted mansard roof, while the clients wanted a comprehensive spatial programme, the compromise was this unusual piece of architecture. Loos arched a metal roof down to the ceiling of the ground floor at the front of the house, but turned it into a flat wood-and-cement roof at the apex. It was thus possible to develop the garden front on three storeys. The rear faŹade is smooth and symmetrical like the front; the two outer window axes protrude like projections."

— Peter Gossel and Gabriele Leuthauser. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. p87.

"Built in the same year as the essay Architecktur was published (1910), Hugo Steiner's house is one of Loos's most significant and well-known works. Because of its severe and advanced modernity of form it has been adopted in the histories of contemporary architecture as an example of the phase of transition and an anticipation of the language of Rationalism.

"In this view certain aspects have been stressed, such as functional coherence, the absence of ornaments, spatial economy, use of the flat roof on the garden side, the reduction of the external image to a pure white shell. All these aspects are undoubtedly present in the work and, moreover, exerted an unquestionable influence on the stylistic revolution of the postwar years. But, in emphasizing the elements of anticipation, the evolutionistic interpretation has shown its limits, leaving unexplored thetheoretical weight and specifics of methodology of Loos's design, which it reduces to a trivial search for functional solutions. One far from negligible fact that it fails to grasp is that the surprising modernity of the Steiner House is the result not so much of a process of abstraction as of an updated tradition. Proof of this is afforded by just those elements that appear to be the newest ones, such as the total absence of decoration on the outside walls (in fact, plastered with simple lime mortar like the old Viennese houses) or the use of the curved sheet-metal roof (in turn drawn from the local historical building culture).

"In short, the disruptive and innovative character of this work derives from an analytical and selective reflection on history, and not yet from the desire for the denial of history on which the Bauhaus will build its theories after the war, and still less from an adherence to functionalism."

— from Benedetto Gravagnuolo. Adolf Loos: Theory and Works. p139.

The Creator's Words

"...I have discovered the following truth and present it to the world: cultural evolution is equivalent to the removal of ornament from articles in daily use. I thought I was giving the world a new source of pleasure with this; it did not thank me for it. People were sad and despondent. What oppressed them was the realization that no new ornament could be created. What every Negro can do, what all nations and ages have been able to do, why should that be denied to us, men of the nineteenth century? What humanity had achieved in earlier millennia without decoration has been carelessly tossed aside and consigned to destruction. We no longer possess carpenters' benches from the Carolingian period, but any trash that exhibited the merest trace of decoration was collected and cleaned up, and splendid palaces built to house it. People walked sadly around the showcases, ashamed of their won impotence. Shall every age have a style of its own and our age alone be denied one? By style they meant decoration. But I said: Don't weep! Don't you see that the greatness of our age lies in its inability to produce a new form of decoration? We have conquered ornament, we have won through to lack of ornamentation. Look, the time is nigh, fulfillment awaits us. Soon the streets of the town will glisten like with walls. Like Zion, the holy city, the metropolis of heaven. Then we shall have fulfillment."

— Adolf Loos. from Ludwig Mčnz and Gustav Kčnstler. Adolf Loos: Pioneer of Modern Architecture. p226-227.

Details

St. Veitgasse 10, Vienna 13

the facade on St. Veitgasse has been so radically tampered with, the original curved and plated roof having been replaced by a pitched roof, that it is almost unrecognizable. The interior has also been subjected to substantial alterations.

Resources
Sources on Steiner House

Sir Banister Fletcher. Sir Banister Fletcher's A History of Architecture. 18th ed., revised by J.C. Palmes. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975. ISBN 684-14207-4. NA200.F63. photo, p1251. discussion, p1250.

Peter Gossel and Gabriele Leuthauser. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. Cologne, Germany: Benedikt Taschen Verlag GmbH & Co., 1991. ISBN 3-8228-0550-5. p87.

Benedetto Gravagnuolo. Adolf Loos: Theory and Works. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1982. ISBN 0-8478-0414-3. NA 1011.5.L6G7 1982. discussion p139.

Ludwig Mčnz and Gustav Kčnstler. Adolf Loos: Pioneer of Modern Architecture. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, 1966. LC 66-12528. NA1038.L6M83. discussion p226-227. ground floor plan drawing, f70, p98. section plan drawing, f69, p98.

John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers, 1975. facade photo, section drawing, p229.

Dennis Sharp. Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. New York: Facts on File, 1990. ISBN 0-8160-2438-3. NA680.S517. facade photo, section drawing, plan drawing, p45. — Available at Amazon.com

Dennis Sharp. Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. New York: Facts on File, 1972. (Note: This earlier edition has different color pictures than the 1990 edition.) photo of garden elevation with alterations, p45.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

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