The Scheu house was built for
Gustav and Helen Scheu. Mr. Scheu was a lawyer and Viennese intellectual
aligned with the Garden City Movement. He was also very aware about the
significance of having Loos design his new house and it was most likely
his progressive sensibilities and his unconditional support to the project
which saw it come to a successful conclusion.
The house which was to be
located in the Hietzing area, met resistance from the building authorities
from the planning stage. The suburb of Hietzing is a wealthy neighborhood
where most of the houses are symmetrical and of neo-classical style. The
residents of the suburb were shocked by the new aesthetics that the house
would bring into their area and saw the house as a disgrace and an insult
to common sense. Loos remained firm behind his rational decisions; the
only concession that he made was to plant ivy on the garden façade to
make it less severe. The planning authority asked Loos to draft proposals
for the lot next door, showing how the house could fit with the
surroundings; that plan was never built, but the Scheu house was.
The Scheu house is definitely
alien to its surroundings, and has a striking form. The house is an
asymmetrical stepped volume. The building contains two dwellings, the main
house and a renting apartment located on the highest module. The door at
the right side of the building, which looks like the main access, is
actually the private door to the small apartment. The main entrance of the
house is on the left side. Because of the stepped form, each of the
east-facing bedrooms gains a generous balcony in front. The terraces
recede four meters, and the building is 16 meters long in total, with all
the different size windows based on the combination of a single module.
This building is probably the
first in which a flat roof was used as an outdoor terrace. What is certain
is that these terraces played an important role in the development of 20th
century architecture in a time where the use of flat roofs was subject to
a great deal of controversy.
The interiors are Richardsonian,
with the walls covered in dark oak in the social areas and wood painted
white in the bedrooms. This distinction of the spaces between public or
private interiors reflects the notion of spatial domesticity that Loos had
Joseph Rosa, in Adolf Loos
Architecture 1903-1932 (The Monacelli Press, NY 1996), suggests a
connection between Rudolph
Schindler's house of 1922 and the terraces of the Scheu house.
Schindler was a student of Loos before immigrating to the USA, and his own
house incorporates terraces as sleeping porches.
transport: Use the
underground line U4 (green) and change at Hietzing to the tram #60. Get
off at Gloriettegasse. The house is about two blocks away to the west. The
Strasser house is within walking distance of this building.
note that this is a private house and is not open to the public.