Villa Karma

One of the most beautiful early modern houses, in my opinion, is the Villa Karma by Adolf Loos (primary designer, 1904-1906 - Hugo Ehrlich finished the design). Loos is known as one of the foremost early modernists who abandoned ornament of any kind. The Villa Karma on Switzerland's Lake Geneva was his first major project, and here he was experimenting with what modernism was and yet still referencing the classical tradition more than in his later projects. It's this juxtoposition that I love so much and yet is so hard to find.Loos's life, by the way, was a veritable soap opera, that would shock the most liberal biographer today. His contemporary, Frank Lloyd Wright was a walk in the park comparitively! But I'm not here to talk about his life ( you can read about it on wikipedia HERE if you're interested). The rear of the house, which faces the lake, takes advantage of the views with steep garden terracing, huge windows and numerous outdoor rooms.Here you can see some of the classical Doric columns that are used here on a loggia, but also at the front entrance as seen in the top image. Their presence is striking against the slick and austere facade of stucco. Notice also the statue of a face to the left - a classical element.
While he eschewed traditional ornament, he used beautiful materials on the interior of the house to great effect: nothing boring here. The house is a positive mausoleum of beautiful marbles. In the oval entry foyer, a pattern of black and white marble on the floor contrasts with a rosey marble used on the walls and gold tiles on the ceiling.The upper level of this opening, as seen from the hallway above, was an obvious precedent for Michael Grave's own house in New Jersey (as was much of the work of Loos). Recognize it?The library again shows the decorative (but not ornamental) use of marble and wood with large windows overlooking the lake. I could spend all day in this room! This corner of the library shows another modern take on 'tradition' - a stained glass window.
The most famous room in the house, however (which also appears on the cover) is the master bathroom. Classicism rears its head again, this time in a black marble. The bronze doors are studded and I wouldn't want to walk into them in the middle of the night! The sink is between the 2 doors seen below: this room is enormous - a veritable temple to cleanliness!
The dining room again uses tons of marble, with an interesting metal ceiling. I wish I could find a color photograph of this. Do you think it's copper? Steel? While this room looks cold in this photo,I think with a tablecloth, dishes, chairs - it would warm right up. But this is definitely a cold house, probably better suited for a tropical climate rather than Switzerland!The loggia, off the dining room is similar in form, but the floor pattern from the dining room is echoed on the ceiling out here in a classical motif. The niches at the end of the space are also somewhat classical (and I feel were probably added by Ehrlich and not Loos)The photographs are by Roberto Schezen from the marvelous book, Adolf Loos Architecture 1903-1932 by Kenneth Frampton and Joseph Rosa.