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Twombly, R. (2005). Raumplan: Adolf Loos, Frank Lloyd Wright, Residential Space, and Modernity. Ann. Psychoanal., 33:191-205.

(2005). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 33:191-205

Raumplan: Adolf Loos, Frank Lloyd Wright, Residential Space, and Modernity

Robert Twombly, Ph.D.

Frank Lloyd Wright and Adolf Loos were near contemporaries. Born in 1867, Wright designed his first houses when he was about 25: those half-dozen or so “boot-leg” commissions, he called them, of 1891 and 1892 in and around Chicago that, taken in violation of contract with his employers Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, led to his dismissal from their firm. Born in 1870, Loos first built in 1897 when he was 27 and until 1903 he was known for shop and apartment renovations in Vienna. But beginning with his 1904 Villa Karma on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, Loos, like Wright, garnered acclaim for free-standing dwellings, although he, too, designed many other kinds of well-known, sometimes controversial, buildings. Neither one was, nor was content to be, exclusively a residential architect, but their reputations nevertheless stemmed in large measure from their pioneering work in villa design.

Raumplan—which is to say room plan or the arrangement of interior space—has come to be associated with Loos even though he never used the word and only late in life discussed it as a concept. The term was actually coined by associates assembling the 1931 book, Adolf Loos: Architectural Works, the editor of which, Heinrich Kulka, explained raumplan as the arrangement of related spaces into a harmonic invisible whole and into a spatially-efficient composition (Van Duzer and Kleinman, 1994, p. 38). Wright could surely have written that about his own work.

Here is what Loos himself wrote about room arrangement, in 1933, the year he died:

I do not design plans, facades, sections, I design space.

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