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Vienna Diary 3: Palace of Leisure

(Added 15 June 2008)

The Vienna Jubilee Exhibition of 1898 inspired Adolf Loos to make public his critical analysis of Viennese culture- including its plumbing, furniture, hygiene, carriages, undergarments, and men’s shoes. These texts, (later published together under the title “Spoken into the Void collected essays 1897-1900”), solidified Loos’ contrary reputation as innovative architect, dandy, and artistic radical. In Ornament and Crime (1908), Loos elaborated on his critique of cultural relations and spectacles with his haunting and incisive dismissal of the exhibitions at the Municipal gallery.

“I recover from the news of a fire more rapidly if I hear that only worthless rubbish was burnt. I can be happy about the junk in the Kunstlerhaus, as I know that they put on exhibitions in a few days which are pulled down in one. But the flinging of gold coins instead of pebble, the lighting of a cigarette with a banknote, the pulverization and drinking of a pearl appear unaesthetic.”

When Loos imagined his own version of a cultural centre in the 1920’s he designed a Palace of Leisure . In this proposed building (never built) Loos attempted “to mix culture and leisure, social relations and popular pleasures”. Panayotis Tournikiotis, Adolf Loos, Princeton Architectural Press, 2002 The open plan was accessed through an octagonal courtyard, and included a restaurant, hotel, skating rink, dance floor, gaming rooms and lecture halls.

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