The Steiner house was designed for the
painter Lilly Steiner and her husband Hugo. It is located in a Vienna
suburb where the planning regulations were strong enough to
have a direct impact on the final design.
Loos was a remarkable
architect when working within the limits imposed by the shape of the
site or external forces like the planning codes. The regulations only permitted a
street front with one story and a dormer window (a window
built in a sloping roof). The large window at the front brings light
into the atelier of the painter, which was situated on the first level. The
garden facade is three storied and with the use of the semi-circular
metal-sheathed roof Loos manages to articulate the transition between
the front and garden elevations.
The Steiner house became a
highly influential example of modern architecture; it played a
significant role in establishing Loos' reputation as a modern architect
to the audience outside of the Viennese community, and became an
obligatory reference for architects during the 1920s and
30s. Almost all of the literature of the Modern Movement has reproduced
the garden façade as an indisputable example of radical rationalist
The stripped façade was
rapidly assimilated into the formal purism of the 1920s and was the
major reason for the success of the building. In this respect it is
interesting to note the comments of the writer Panayotis Tournikiotis*
who states that
'This house renews classical tradition, is not a desire
to negate history.'
Adolf Loos, Princeton Architectural Press, New York 1994
He argues that to put all of the attention in the
austere exterior and not consider what was going on in the stylized interior negates the classical values that are manifest through the
For Loos the exterior was the
public side of the house; that is the reason for the bare wall surfaces.
The interior was the private side and reflected the owner's
personal taste. As some critics have stated, the house reflects a
'classicism married to Anglo-Saxon domesticity in a search for spatial
transport: Use the underground line U4 (green) and change at
Hietzing to the tram #58. Get off at Hummelgasse. The house is about two
blocks away to the south. The Strasser house is within walking distance
of this building and the Scheu house a bit further to the east.
Use Vienna's interactive map to locate the house; zoom out from the first map screen to show transportation routes etc.
note that this is a private house and is not open to the public.