The Khuner Haus by Adolf Loos: a critical study of beauty and desire

Anna Marie Fisker, Marie Frier Hvejsel, Hans Ramsgaard Møller

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


Pondering about beauty’s relevance, meanings, and perhaps even the spell beauty can cast, we settle in comfortable chairs on the terrace of the Khuner Haus in the mountains close to Vienna. Heavy drifting clouds nearly touch the ground on the plateau around us this autumn afternoon. Our goal is to decipherer the architect Adolf Loos’ work, the Khuner Haus, and we put forth the question; do we in Loos’ architecture and thinking find a “Beauty in spite of Nature” as opposed to a “Beauty within Nature”? And if this is the dispute, how has the existence of beauty been challenged?

The point of departure for our exploration of critical issues about Beauty is the theories of Adolf Loos and Immanuel Kant. To classify Loos’ two views on beauty, both driven by the desire to create more beautiful, we focus on Kant’s work “The critique of judgment” in order to define beauty or the beautifulness.
Can the Khuner Haus, designed at the top of Loos’ career, show us that it is the universal beauty defined by nature that Loos has strived for all along?
Do Loos leave the beauty to the mountains? Is there a beauty in the house also, that man must have the desire to explore? To follow Kant; a pleasure in beauty that is desire-free?
We explore how the beauty aspect of a specific time, the “Fin de Siècle in Vienna”, is being materialized in Loos’ beauty aspects. And we ask; how can we explain the timelessness and frame of perception of this grandiose beauty within nature?
Will beauty remain a mystery? If so, it’s necessary to consult Kant about how the beautiful is that which, apart from concepts, is represented as the object of a universal delight. And further is this definition of the beautiful deducible?

Original languageEnglish
Publication date2013
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventBeauty - Exploring Critical Issues - Harris Manchester College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Sep 201315 Sep 2013
Conference number: 3


ConferenceBeauty - Exploring Critical Issues
LocationHarris Manchester College
CountryUnited Kingdom

Cite this