Saturday, April 28, 2007

Loos Haus on Michaelerplatz

In arguably Loos’s most controversial project, the House on Michaelerplatz located in the heart of old Vienna was a complex design [that] enunciated theorems on the relationship between the memory of the historic past of a great city and the invention of the new city based on the modern work of architecture. Situated directly across from the grandeur of the imperial Hofburg Palace the competition for the mixed-use building, the main occupant being Goldman and Salatsch was another foray into men’s fashion design by Loos, was intent on completing the urban platz. The upper four stories were dedicated to apartments and the bottom three levels to the business inhabitant. The design by Loos was a true critique on the excesses of the application of ornament on the Hofburg as if the architecture had simply become a catalogue selection process that would add ornament at a whim simply for the aesthetic appearance of grandness. The answer to this atrocity was a clear rhetoric of a modern appliqué that responded to the classical language of the neighbor by adorning the faux columns, they are non-load-bearing and were not attempts to simulate coursed stonework, on the base with an exotic green Cipollino marble from Euboa [Greece] as a statement that the materiality of the marble enriches the architecturally simplistic forms as par his belief in “less is more.” Equally important, this material served to detract attention from the classical moldings above. The Tuscan columns in the center of the cranked facade do not rest on a classical stylobate, just as the shorter columns, five pairs in all, are elevated to the first floor where they are deployed, rather anti-classically, to bracket the gridded bay windows of the mezzanine. This play on the classical vocabulary is quite odd for a Loosian exterior, but special attention was made to tie the memory of the historic contextualism of the site into the modern stark metropolitan condition of the times.

-nic fonner

No comments: