Organizing Principles Design Language

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Project Purpose




Organizing Principles

Design Language




adolf loos

•  Analyze the work of architect Adolf Loos

•  Introduce the architect with a brief biography

•  Explain the impact of his works 

•  Describe his design philosophies

•  Define his organizing principles

•  Reflect on his observable design language

•  Present a precedent analysis of one of his major 


•  Born in Czech Republic; died in Vienna (1870-1933)

•  Traveled to the world exhibition in Chicago in 1893

and returned to Vienna in 1896 with new ideas  

feeling “self-liberated”

•  Wrote articles for the Neue Freie Presse, earning 

himself a name

•  Designs became known in 1899, with Café Museum

•  Spoken lecture in 1910 on Ornament and Crime

•  Loos’ works “influenced and introduced the

modern movement”

•  Loos’ essay, Ornament and Crime, explained his   

opposition to Art Nouveau Expressionism

•  Interiors serve as functional and distinctive spaces

•  Buildings were at first less pleasing to the Viennese

public, which resulted in less recognition and    

appreciation at the time

Café Museum    Vienna,  Austria    1899



Goldman & Salatsch   Vienna,  Austria  1909



Müller Villa  Prague, Czech Rep.   1930



The clean, undecorated  Viennese coffee house, Café 

Museum, was constructed during the height of Art 

Nouveau. It became one of Loos’ prominent designs,

as he applied his theories and ideas against the use of 

ornamentation in this design. 

The building’s facade displays the separation between 

the sober apartments on the top floors and the more

elegant department store on the first floors. All of the

windows were uncommonly designed without window 

frames, earning the name  “house without eyebrows”. 

The Müller Villa was designed using Loos’ spatial 

conceptual idea, known as Raumplan,  in which he 

designed spaces from the inside out. The irregular 

distribution of the windows directly correlates to 

the placement of the interior volumes.

Kärntner Bar     Vienna,  Austria    1908



The bar is a “small, sleek temple of rebellion against 

the surrounding architecture.” Loos used unadorned 

forms along with lavish materials in the design.

•  Loos’ essay,  Ornament and Crime,  opposed the 

unnecessary use of ornamentation, stating it is 

“linked to degeneracy and crime and should be 

removed from object of daily use”

•  Believed ornamentation to be corrupt as it

“masked the true nature and beauty of materials 

with useless ornament”

•  Loos stated,  “Architecture was an important 

means of providing people with an up-to-date,

truly modern lifestyle,  rather than being an    

isolated form of art”

Horner House    Vienna,  Austria    1912



The design presents itself with the rounded rooftop.  

The rooftop gives the illusion on the facade that it is

two stories, when in fact a third lies within the roof.

Villa Moller      Vienna,  Austria     1926



The Villa Moller appears nearly hygienic and clean as 

it embodies Loos’ conceptual idea of Raumplan, with 

the orderly volumetric bodies and irregular windows.

•  Basic forms were compact in plan, usually   

resembling squares or cubic volumes

•  Exterior walls were constructed as load bearing 

walls out of solid masonry brick

•  Early interior houses utilized columns, while later 

designs were supported by interior walls

•  Rooms on different levels with floors and ceilings

set at different heights

•  Many designs included flat rooftop areas, straight

lines, clean curves, and “clear planar walls and


•  Loos did not sketch initial designs, instead he be-

lieved, “Architecture is not conceived in plans, but in

  spaces;  For me there are only continuous spaces”

•  Raumplan principle was used in many Loos designs, 

which was a “plan of volumes” and “considered

ordering and size of spaces based on functionality”

•  Designs seen as volumetric by creating one main

volume with bilateral symmetry then organizing the

interior of that volume with smaller cubes

•  Solid structures with simplified exteriors and linear

style of design

Michelle Hay   







     AMID D268 Architectural Theories and Concepts  







          Fall 2013


adolf loos

A Precedent Analysis of the Steiner House      Vienna,  Austria    1910 






Massing and Hierarchy

Plan to Section

Organizing Principle




•  The Steiner House was designed for painter  

Lilly Steiner and husband Hugo Steiner

•  Building codes in the neighborhood declared 

all houses to be only two stories high on the 

street side, thus Loos designed the Steiner 

house to have a two story facade with a curved

rooftop, allowing square footage for a third  

story in on the back

•  The design was seen as innovative and proactive

in maximizing what was given

•  Some critics refer to it as the first “completely

modern dwelling”

The outer walls and middle wall 

of this structure are load bearing, 

constructed from brick mason-

ry.  There is a wood beam ceiling 

over the raised ground floor.

The primary entrance is located at the front, 

while the secondary entrance is off the terrace.  

The use space and primary circulation are 

dedicated to the main walkways through the 

structure. There are four vertical circulations

contained interiorly. 

The structure is split into four quadrants,  

representing bilateral symmetry.  There is one 

primary axis through the main entrance and a 

second axis lies horizontal through the center.  

The idea of organization began with one main 

volume, then organizing the interior of that

volume with smaller squares and rectangles.

There are four main geometric quadrants 

depicted on the plan and reflected in the

section. The layers of the design are visible,

from the basement to the top third floor.

•  Loos applied the idea of Raumplan design  to 

this structure, particularly there is one main 

interior volume that is then divided into four

separate quadrants

•  The facade is a representation of a classical  

tripartite, which is a three part visible facade

•  Due to the building codes, Loos designed the 

front and back sides to been seen as more  

symmetrical, while the two sides  contained  

irregular window distribution

•  The irregular window distribution is due to 

Loos’ theory of designing from the inside out

3D Idea

Primary Entrance

Secondary Entrance

Use Space

Primary Circulation

Vertical Circulation

Secondary Axis

Primary Volume

Primary Axis

Secondary Volumes

Tertiary Volumes

Additive Space

The street and garden elevations  

present nearly symmetrical window  

designs, while irregular window  


designs are on the side elevations.

Quadrant Layout

Primary Entrance

The massing is the square shape and  

rounded rooftop.  The hierarchy represents 

a classical tripartite, in which three volumes

are visible on the facade.



Load  Bearing Wall 

Symmetrical   Windows

Irregular   Windows

Michelle Hay   







     AMID D268 Architectural Theories and Concepts  







          Fall 2013

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