Ornamento Y Delito: The Controversial Essay by Adolf Loos
Adolf Loos was a modernist architect and critic who challenged the prevailing trends of his time. He advocated for simplicity, functionality and honesty in design, and denounced ornament as a sign of degeneration and waste. His essay "Ornament and Crime" (Ornamento y Delito in Spanish) is one of his most famous and influential works, where he expresses his radical views on the role of ornament in architecture and society.
The essay was first delivered as a lecture in 1910 in Vienna, and later published in 1929. It caused a lot of controversy and debate among architects, artists and intellectuals, who either praised or condemned Loos's ideas. Some of his main arguments are:
Ornament is a primitive and outdated form of expression that belongs to the past. It is incompatible with modern culture and technology, and hinders progress and innovation.
Ornament is a waste of human labor, material and capital. It increases the cost and reduces the durability and value of objects. It also consumes more energy and resources than necessary.
Ornament is a sign of aesthetic and moral degeneration. It reveals a lack of culture, taste and intelligence. It is associated with crime, disease and decadence.
The modern man has no need for ornament. He prefers simplicity, clarity and purity. He respects the natural beauty and integrity of materials. He creates objects that are useful, functional and honest.
Loos's essay had a significant impact on the development of modern architecture and design. It influenced many architects who followed his principles of rationalism, minimalism and functionalism, such as Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Richard Neutra. It also inspired movements such as the Bauhaus, De Stijl and the International Style.
However, Loos's essay also faced criticism and opposition from those who defended the value and importance of ornament. They argued that ornament is not a crime, but a form of art, culture and identity. They claimed that ornament enriches the aesthetic experience and expresses the diversity and creativity of human beings.
Today, Loos's essay remains relevant and provocative. It invites us to reflect on the meaning and purpose of ornament in our lives. It challenges us to question our assumptions and preferences about beauty, style and taste. It also raises ethical and environmental issues about the production and consumption of objects.
If you are interested in reading Loos's essay, you can find it online in PDF format in different languages. For example, you can access it in Spanish here: Ornato y Delito Adolf Loos.pdf.
Loos's essay was not only a theoretical manifesto, but also a reflection of his own architectural practice. Loos designed and built many buildings that exemplified his principles of simplicity, functionality and honesty. His architecture was in stark contrast with the architecture of his Austrian contemporary Otto Wagner, who embraced ornament and historicism. Some of the representative buildings designed by Loos include:
The Steiner House (1910) in Vienna, Austria. This house was one of the first examples of rationalist architecture, with a cubic form and a flat roof. The house has no facade decoration, but instead relies on the contrast between smooth and rough plaster surfaces. The interior is organized according to the concept of Raumplan, which means that each room has a different height and size according to its function and importance.
The Looshaus (1911) in Vienna, Austria. This building is also known as the Goldman & Salatsch Building, as it was commissioned by two tailors. The building is located opposite the Hofburg Palace, and caused a lot of controversy for its lack of ornament. The Emperor Franz Joseph himself disliked the building and called it "the house without eyebrows". The building has a simple rectangular shape, with large windows and a green marble cladding on the ground floor. The interior is richly decorated with precious materials such as mahogany, marble and brass.
The Villa MÃ¼ller (1930) in Prague, Czech Republic. This house was designed for FrantiÅ¡ek MÃ¼ller and his wife Milada, who owned a construction company. The house is considered one of Loos's masterpieces, as it combines a simple exterior with a complex interior. The exterior is composed of white cubes with small windows, while the interior is a labyrinth of interconnected spaces with different levels, materials and colors. The house also features a roof garden and a winter garden.
Loos's architecture was not only influential in Europe, but also in America and Japan. He visited both countries and had contacts with many architects who admired his work. He also designed some projects for these countries, such as the Chicago Tribune Tower competition entry (1922) and the Tzara House (1926) in Paris for Tristan Tzara, a Romanian poet who lived in Japan.
Loos's legacy is still evident today in many modern and contemporary buildings that follow his ideas of simplicity, functionality and honesty. His essay "Ornament and Crime" is still widely read and discussed by architects, designers and students who want to understand the origins and implications of modern architecture. 061ffe29dd