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Learning to Dwell: Adolf Loos in the United Lands

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), with the City of Prague Museum, Czech Centre London and Austrian Cultural Forum London, is pleased to present an exhibition on the work of one of the pioneers of European Modern architecture, Adolf Loos (1870-1933). Born in the Czech Republic, the exhibition will examine Loos’ house designs in the cities of Prague, Pilsen and Brno. Originated by the City of Prague Museum, the exhibition will also highlight the rich interiors of his buildings and will feature drawings, models, original furniture and glass, never before seen in Britain.

Press Officer: Beatrice Cooke, RIBA, 020 7307 3813; beatrice.cooke@inst.riba.org

EXHIBITION: 24 February – 3 May 2011, Galleries 1& 2 and RIBA Library
RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1

"Loos swept right beneath our feet, and it was a Homeric cleansing -- precise, philosophical and logical. In this Loos has had a decisive influence on the destiny of architecture." Le Corbusier

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), with the City of Prague Museum,  Czech Centre London and Austrian Cultural Forum London, is pleased to present an exhibition on the work of one of the pioneers of European Modern architecture, Adolf Loos (1870-1933). Born in the Czech Republic, the exhibition will examine Loos' house designs in the cities of Prague, Pilsen and Brno. Originated by the City of Prague Museum, the exhibition will also highlight the rich interiors of his buildings and will feature drawings, models, original furniture and glass, never before seen in Britain. 

On display in Gallery 1 will be a selection of Loos' designs for private houses and apartments, such as the Villa Müller (1928-30) and the house for Josef Winternitz in Prague (1931-32). The Gallery 2 exhibits will focus on the restoration of the Villa Müller in Prague, now a National Cultural Monument, and one of the finest examples of Loos' 'raumplan' technique – the development of split-level living.

The exhibition will be extended by previously undisplayed material from the collections of the Royal Institute of British Architects whose Library helped save the Adolf Loos Archive (now in the Albertina, Vienna) when it was brought to London in 1938 by Loos' literary executor, the Austrian art historian Ludwig Münz, during the War.  A special display of RIBA – held photographs of Loos' buildings in Austria and France as well as Loos' polemical books and documents will be available to view in the RIBA British Architectural Library.

Adolf Loos studied architecture in Bohemia and Dresden and was influenced by a three-year stay in the United States (1893-96) where he was impressed by the innovative efficiency of American industrial buildings. He then lived in Vienna where he wrote many controversial essays, notably 'Ornament and Crime' in which he expounded a lack of ornament in architecture as a sign of spiritual strength. As well as his private houses he is perhaps best known for his projects in Vienna such as the Goldmann & Salatsch building on Michaelerplatz, the Café Museum and the Karntner (American) Bar.

Speaking about the development of his raumplan design in 1930, Adolf Loos said:

"My architecture is not conceived in plans, but in spaces (cubes). I do not design floor plans, facades, sections. I design spaces. For me, there is no ground floor, first floor etc.... For me, there are only contiguous, continual spaces, rooms, anterooms, terraces etc. Storeys merge and spaces relate to each other. Every space requires a different height: the dining room is surely higher than the pantry, thus the ceilings are set at different levels. To join these spaces in such a way that the rise and fall are not only unobservable but also practical, in this I see what is for others the great secret, although it is for me a great matter of course."

There are three lectures/talks to accompany the exhibition. To book tickets and for further information go to: www.architecture.com/programmes

Great Architects: Adolf Loos
Tuesday 29 March, 18.30, RIBA, Tickets: £8.50/£5.50 concessions
Join renowned Czech architect Eva Jiricná, architect and author Ivan Margolius, University of Cambridge Professor Dalibor Vesely, and RIBA British Architectural Library Director Dr Irena Murray to discuss the work and legacy of the great architect Adolf Loos. As famous for his writings as his buildings, Loos believed that reason and purpose should lead in architectural design. Exploring both his famous and lesser known works, the panel debates Loos's influence as an architect and polemicist and the significance of his work today.

Learning to Dwell – Gallery Talk
Friday 25 February, 13.00, RIBA Gallery 1. Free but booking essential
Maria Szadkowska, exhibition curator from the City of Prague Museum and Dr Irena Murray, Director, RIBA British Architectural Library, offer lunchtime visitors an introduction to the exhibition and the work of Adolf Loos.

Learning to Dwell – Second Gallery Talk
Tuesday 5 April, 18.30, RIBA Gallery 1. Free but booking essential
Join Dr Irena Murray, Director, RIBA British Architectural Library for a tour of the exhibition and discussion of Adolf Loos, exploring his work in both the Czech Lands, and his projects and influence in a wider context.

Notes to editors:

For further information and images please contact Beatrice Cooke at the RIBA on 020 7307 3813; or beatrice.cooke@inst.riba.org

Entrance to the exhibition is free, though entrance the lecture will need tickets and the gallery talks require a reservation. www.architecture.com/programmes 

The exhibition galleries at the RIBA are open from Mon – Sat, 10.00 – 17.00, (exhibitions may occasionally be closed for events, call 020 7307 3888 to check) and are at the RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD.  Nearest tubes are Oxford Circus, Regent's Park and Great Portland Street. For further information about the exhibitions go to www.architecture.com/programmes 

The British Architectural Library is open Tue, Wed, Fri 10.00 – 17.00, Sat 10.00 – 13.30. Photo ID required fro entry. T: 020 7307 3882 or visit www.architecture.com/librarydrawingsandphotographs 

This exhibition is co-curated by the City of Prague Museum of which the Villa Muller forms a part. See their website (in Czech) www.muzeumprahy.cz or the Villa Muller website (in English) for details: www.mullerovavila.cz/?q=english 

The Austrian Cultural Forum London (ACF London) promotes cultural contacts between the UK and Austria by organising events and supporting artists and projects in London as well as throughout the UK in the fields of music, performing arts, literature, film, visual arts and through academic symposia, public lectures and discussions. The ACF provides a venue in central London for recitals, lectures, conferences, film screenings and exhibitions and acts as a cultural and academic meeting place.

The Czech Centre London actively promotes the Czech Republic in the UK to initiate and support mutual exchange and collaboration between a variety of partners, institutions and individuals from the two countries. The Czech Centre organises cultural and educational programmes and events and provides resources for obtaining relevant information about the Czech Republic to students, scholars, business people, tourists and the general public within the UK. It is a London based Czech government non-political agency associated with the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, part of the international network of Czech Centres.

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