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A theory of making: architecture and art in the practice of Adolf Loos

Tozer, W.R.E.; (2011) A theory of making: architecture and art in the practice of Adolf Loos. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access


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Adolf Loos repeatedly discusses the role of art in relation to architecture in his essays, but many of his statements appear either repetitive or inconsistent with one another, and are difficult to reconcile with his buildings. Considering Loos’s writing and built work together, rather than separately, suggests that instead of being fully formulated as a methodology and then implemented in practice, Loos’s argument emerges serially and in a piecemeal fashion with the progressive development of his buildings through practice—a theory of making. The line of enquiry into the historical and theoretical material is informed by the division of my own design work in practice into sculptural components and furnishings. The research proceeds on the hypothesis that Loos similarly divided each of his buildings into discrete elements that he either understood as art, or considered functional—and that he deployed ornament to signal the latter, rather than the former. This hypothesis is investigated by tracing the origin and development in his built projects of a number of particular components of the Müller House, in relation to the emergence and revision of specific aspects of Loos’s written argument on art and architecture in the essays contemporaneous with these buildings. The investigations are structured by reference to the distinct qualities of each component as identified through the design research, focusing on Composite House. While the research method is specific to my own design work in practice, the investigation is structured so as to produce autonomous outcomes in relation to Loos and modernism, which are meaningful when decoupled from this field data. Loos has to date been predominantly examined through conceptions of modernism as the expression of function, structure, technology or society; however, it is argued here that modern architecture could conversely be understood, through Loos, as a form of art practice.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: A theory of making: architecture and art in the practice of Adolf Loos
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright restricted material has been removed from the e-thesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1331912
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