Friday, December 25, 2009

Villa Karma

One of the most beautiful early modern houses, in my opinion, is the Villa Karma by Adolf Loos (primary designer, 1904-1906 - Hugo Ehrlich finished the design). Loos is known as one of the foremost early modernists who abandoned ornament of any kind. The Villa Karma on Switzerland's Lake Geneva was his first major project, and here he was experimenting with what modernism was and yet still referencing the classical tradition more than in his later projects. It's this juxtoposition that I love so much and yet is so hard to find.Loos's life, by the way, was a veritable soap opera, that would shock the most liberal biographer today. His contemporary, Frank Lloyd Wright was a walk in the park comparitively! But I'm not here to talk about his life ( you can read about it on wikipedia HERE if you're interested). The rear of the house, which faces the lake, takes advantage of the views with steep garden terracing, huge windows and numerous outdoor rooms.Here you can see some of the classical Doric columns that are used here on a loggia, but also at the front entrance as seen in the top image. Their presence is striking against the slick and austere facade of stucco. Notice also the statue of a face to the left - a classical element.
While he eschewed traditional ornament, he used beautiful materials on the interior of the house to great effect: nothing boring here. The house is a positive mausoleum of beautiful marbles. In the oval entry foyer, a pattern of black and white marble on the floor contrasts with a rosey marble used on the walls and gold tiles on the ceiling.The upper level of this opening, as seen from the hallway above, was an obvious precedent for Michael Grave's own house in New Jersey (as was much of the work of Loos). Recognize it?The library again shows the decorative (but not ornamental) use of marble and wood with large windows overlooking the lake. I could spend all day in this room! This corner of the library shows another modern take on 'tradition' - a stained glass window.
The most famous room in the house, however (which also appears on the cover) is the master bathroom. Classicism rears its head again, this time in a black marble. The bronze doors are studded and I wouldn't want to walk into them in the middle of the night! The sink is between the 2 doors seen below: this room is enormous - a veritable temple to cleanliness!
The dining room again uses tons of marble, with an interesting metal ceiling. I wish I could find a color photograph of this. Do you think it's copper? Steel? While this room looks cold in this photo,I think with a tablecloth, dishes, chairs - it would warm right up. But this is definitely a cold house, probably better suited for a tropical climate rather than Switzerland!The loggia, off the dining room is similar in form, but the floor pattern from the dining room is echoed on the ceiling out here in a classical motif. The niches at the end of the space are also somewhat classical (and I feel were probably added by Ehrlich and not Loos)The photographs are by Roberto Schezen from the marvelous book, Adolf Loos Architecture 1903-1932 by Kenneth Frampton and Joseph Rosa.


Julio Muao said...

Hey Handsome!

As always, a great post. Just wanted to wish you a very joyous holiday season and a fantastic new year.

La Petite Gallery said...

That is very interesting,
It's not a house I could
live in. Maybe a vacation.
I like Marble, to much becomes cold.
Had a house with marble floors. Never again.
That house looks to dark
for me. My needs are lots of light.
For sure, a lawyer would love
the book cases. I have found
that Men like dark rooms, with lots of wood..
There will not be a problem to sell it.
Every one has different needs
SOOO-- Happy New Year all the best for you. I bet you can design a Bright house.

Topsy Turvy said...

What a gorgeous building!
Hope you have a happy holiday, Stefan!

Karena said...

Beautiful, stunning architecture! I also love your Holiday images below....thank you and all the best in the Year ahead 2010!!

up_today_arch said...

Good blog, glad to read it!
Are you on architect?
If you are interesting eropean architecture, I may invite you to my blog.
There are review of my favorit projects, panorama of exibitions and architectural bienalle, iconik big-named buildings, and a lot of my architectural impressions:)
I subscribed to you post, my be you will my follower too!

Julio Muao said...

Hey, no working on Christmas day!

Happy holidays handsome!

Just stopping by all my favorite blogs to wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Julio & Family

soodie :: said...

I love Loos' work and philosophy. However, as a cantankerous and mean man, I wouldn't have wanted to work with him, or be his friend.

So glad you posted these images. I think his work is just beyond brilliant.

Ashfield Hansen Design Inc. said...

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

David @ Ashfield Hansen Design

The Down East Dilettante said...

The sound you hear is my jaw dropping to the floor. Amazing. Simply amazing.

Rose C'est La Vie said...

A marvellous post, Stefan, and the antidote to Christmas excess. Thank you. Funny how the outside of this house seems to prefigure post-modernism? Would you agree? (I'm not much of an architectural

mAjO said...

me encanta esta villa karma !

lo mejor es como define las superficies de su arquitectura, sobre todo en cuanto a su materialidad...

saludos !