Prague: Villa Müller (Czech Republic)

Villa Müller

Nad Hradním vodojemem 642/14, 162 00 Praha 6-Střešovice, Czechia

ADOLF LOOS (1928-30)

These images represent a bit of a time capsule for me, of February 1991, when I met Daniel and Nina Libeskind and travelled to Prague with them and members of Studio Libeskind to attend the opening of an exhibition of Daniel’s winning design for the Jewish Museum in Berlin. We had the good fortune to be able to visit this building, even though it was not open to the public at that time.

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 01_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The 1994 Princeton Architectural Press publication ‘Villa Müller’ by Leslie van Duzer and Kent Kleinman has a Preface that explains, ‘The building’s most recent occupant, the Marxist-Leninist Institute of Czechoslovakia, was not inclined to permit public incursions. Visits to the house during the past twenty years were clandestine and were available only to a handful of initiates within small academic circles. Large portions of the villa were completely sealed from view; the dining room was boxed in with ceiling-height cabinets and the bedroom level was entirely off limits. Prolonged stays were impossible.

These are the conditions under which we visited, and the limited images shown here reflect that.

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 02_Stephen Varady Photo ©

For many, the Villa Müller is the best example of Adolf Loos’ exploration of what has become known as Raumplan, where space, not plans, were designed – where spaces interlocked across multiple levels (sometimes within the one room) creating a more complex three-dimensional intersection of spaces than the regular stack of floor plates one on top of the other.

The ‘Villa Müller’ publication also states, ‘The Villa Müller in Prague is the last urban villa in the extraordinary oeuvre of Adolf Loos. Immediately upon its completion in 1930, the building was heralded as the most synthetic expression of the architect’s creative ability, the culmination of a lifetime of architecture and theoretical activity.

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 03_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The building is a simple cubic composition on its exterior, but one that has been carefully composed in relation to its placement of windows, and then eroded at the upper level to provide an extensive outdoor terrace with expansive views across the surrounding districts. Loos left the exterior walls as simple, unadorned, white planes with yellow-framed punched windows, however he explored opulence in the interiors.

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 04_Stephen Varady Photo ©

At the covered entry, the interior sneaks outside a little, expressed through the use of stone for the seat and walls.

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 05_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 06_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Inside the exploration of materials continues with extensive use of stone, wood, tiles, wallpaper and coloured paints.

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 07_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 08_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 09_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 10_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The stone-clad living room walls with aquaria.

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 11_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 12_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 13_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 14_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 15_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 16_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Each room expresses itself differently through the use of those materials, almost like clothing.

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 17_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 18_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Adolf Loos was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1870, lived and worked in the USA from 1893-96 before setting up practice in Vienna in 1897.

In 1928 František Müller, a successful engineer and contractor, and his wife, Milada Müllerová, engaged Loos (assisted by local architect Karl Lhota) to design them a house in Prague, to accommodate them, their daughter and six servants. Müller built the house himself but had enormous difficulty with the local council – they rejected the original Loos design as too austere and not contextual, and it took 11 appeals from January to December 1929 before final approval was given.

The building was completed in 1930, the same year as Corbusier’s Villa Savoye in Poissy and Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat in Brno. The couple lived in the house until 1948 when it was seized by the Communists. After the fall of communism, in 1989, the house was turned over to, Eva Maternová, their daughter, who sold it to the City of Prague in 1995.

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 19_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 20_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 21_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 22_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Villa Müller, Prague by Adolf Loos 23_Stephen Varady Photo ©

After extensive restorations Villa Müller opened as a museum in 2000, so now it is possible to experience the house as a whole, and experience the spaces that Loos designed as a sequential experiential journey, and then to study and learn from the intricacies of that experience.

Villa Müller, A Work of Adolf Loos by Leslie van Duzer & Kent Kleinman - Princeton Architectural Press, 1994

This publication, ‘Villa Müller’ by Leslie van Duzer and Kent Kleinman, Princeton Architectural Press, 1994, is an excellent documentation of the design, construction and history of this building including photographs, accurate drawings and correspondences between the client and architect, and may still be found online.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Place: Villa Müller

Architect: Arch Daily – Adolf Loos and Wikipedia – Adolf Loos

Photographer: Stephen Varady (scans from slides)

More Information: Architectuul

Map: Villa Müller

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Prague: Villa Müller (Czech Republic)

  1. My favourite so far! I love love love this one.

    Regards,

    WILLIAM SMART SMART DESIGN STUDIO
    ARCHITECTURE FROM THE INSIDE OUT

    Like

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