Loos ornamental

Haus am Michaelerplatz, WienLOOS ORNAMENTAL

The film shows 27 still-existing buildings and interiors by Austrian architect Adolf Loos (1870–1933) in order of their construction. Adolf Loos was one of the pioneers of European Modernist architecture. His vehement turn against ornamentation on buildings triggered a controversy in architectural theory. The development of his “spatial plan” launched a new way of thinking about spaces to be built.


His houses, furniture for shops and apartments, facades, and monuments were built between 1899 and 1931. They were filmed in 2006 in Vienna, Lower Austria, Prague, Brno, Pilsen, Nachod, and Paris in their present surroundings.

Architecture projects space into this world. Cinemaphotography translates that space into pictures projected in time. Cinema then is used in a completely new way: as a space to meditate on buildungs.”Heinz Emigholz

Haus am Michaelerplatz, Wien Loos ornamental

Architectur as autobiography – Adolf Loos (1870-1933)
Photography and beyond – Part 13

Austria 2008
35mm | Color | 1:1:37 | 72 min | Dolby Digital

Writer, cinematographer, editor and director Heinz Emigholz Sound Christine Gloggengiesser Camera Assistant Volkmar Geiblinger, Till Beckmann Editing Assistant Markus Ruff  Sounddesign Christian Obermaier Sound Mix Eckart Goebel Titles Martin Putz

Bookkeeping Heide Semmelrock, Alexander Gröger Production Coordinator Christine Gloggengiesser Production Manager Alexander Glehr Production Assistent Richard Wilhelmer Commissioning Editors Johanna Hanslmayr (ORF), Jutta Krug (WDR), Reinhard Wulf (WDR/3sat) Camera rental Moviecam Wien Labs Synchro Film & Video GmbH Wien Producers Gabriele Kranzelbinder, Alexander Dumreicher-Ivanceanu

Haus Duschnitz, WienProduced by
AMOUR FOU Wien in collaboration with Heinz Emigholz Filmproduktion Berlin

Produced with the support of Filmfonds Wien, Innovative Film Austria und Niederösterreich Kultur in collaboration with ORF Film-/Fernsehabkommen in Koproduktion mit WDR III und WDR/3sat

Thanks to Ralf Bock, Dagmar Cernouskova, Dietmar Steiner, Maria Szadkowska und Thomas Aigner, Wolfgang Bahr, Michal Brummel, Familie Hauer, Familie Heimburg, Thomas Kainz, Marianne Kohn, Juliette Lambours, Sylvia Leodolter
Rudolf Niedersüß, Familie Nothdurfter, Charlotte Pöchhacker, Reinhard Pühringer, Susanne Stein-Dichtl, Familie Steiner, Norbert und Hanna Steiner, Familie Suschny, Familie Wilhelmer und Pym Films

"Photography and beyond" is a series of films about art and design - "projections" that become visible as writings, drawings, photography, architecture and sculpture. A reverse visual process is analyzed: seeing as expression, not as impression. The eye as the interface between the brain and the outside world, the gaze as a compositional power that projets an idea into the outside world or comprehends it by means of cinematography. From the writings, drawings and studies of the works of various architects something indescribable is formed: an expression in film of the objectification of mental thought.

Haus Scheu, WienAdolf Loos (1870-1933)

The film shows the following buildings and interiors by Adolf Loos in order of their construction:


Café Museum (1899), Kärtner Bar (1908), and the house on Michaelerplatz (1909–11) in Vienna I; the Steiner (1910), Scheu (1912/13), and Horner (1912) houses in Vienna XIII; the Manz bookstore (1912) in Vienna I, the Rosenfeld apartment (1912) in Vienna XIII, the Kníze tailor shop (1910–13), and the Boskovits apartment (1913) in Vienna I; the façade of the Anglo-Austrian Bank (1913) in Vienna VI, the Duschnitz house (1915/16) in Vienna XIX, the Rohrbacher sugar refinery, a factory, and Villa Bauer (1916/17) in Hrusovany, Czech Republic; the Peter Altenberg grave (1919) in the Central Cemetery in Vienna, the Lainz settlement house, Friedensstadt foundation stone monument (1921), and Rufer house (1922) in Vienna XIII; the Spanner country house (1924) in Gumpoldskirchen, Lower Austria, the foundation stone monument of the Laaerberg settlement (1924) in Vienna X, the reconstructed Ritter castle (1925) and Brünn trade fair grounds in Brno, Czech Republic;

Haus Tristan Tzara, Paristhe Tristan Tzara house (1925/26) in Paris XVIII, the Moller house (1928) in Vienna XVIII, the Brummel house (1929) in Pilsen, Czech Republic, the Khuner country house (1929/30) in Payerbach, Lower Austria, Villa Müller (1928–30) in Prague, Czech Republic, duplexes in the Werkbund Settlement (1930–32) in Vienna XIII, the workers’ settlement Babí (1931) in Nachod, Czech Republic, the Mitzi Schnabl house (1931) in Vienna XXII, and the Adolf Loos grave in the Central Cemetery in Vienna.


- BERLIN: Kinostart-Premiere am 1. Juni um 12.00 Uhr im Kino International, Karl-Marx-Allee 33, 10178 Berlin, tel. 24 75 60 11
- Im Anschluss an die Premiere, Filmgespräch mit Heinz Emigholz und Harun Farocki im Kino.
- Weitere Sonntags-Matinees in Berlins schönstem Kino am 8., 22., und 29. Juni, sowie am 6. Juli um 12.00 Uhr im Kino International.

- Dresdner Architekturfilmtage: 12. bis 18. Juni (Filmtheater Metropolis)

- Demnächst auch in HANNOVER (2. Juli)


Screenings at the Berlinale 2008 


13.02.08 12:45 CinemaxX5 (press screening) EN
14.02.08 20:15 Arsenal GER
15.02.08 15:00 CineStar 8 EN
17.02.08 16:30 Delphi-Filmpalast GER

Herrenausstatter Knize, Wien 

Buchhandlung Manz, Wien Links


Production: AMOUR FOU


Festivals: www.afc.at 


Distribution Germany: www.filmgalerie451.de


Distribution Austria: www.poool.at


World sales: www.autlookfilms.com

Landhaus Payerbach Interview with Heinz Emigholz on “Loos ornamental”

Stefanie Schulte Strathaus: After Rudolph Schindler – “Schindler’s Houses” was shown at the Forum 2007 – you have now turned to another Austrian: Adolf Loos. What relation do the two have to each other?


Heinz Emigholz: Adolf Loos was in many ways a role model for Rudolph Schindler. First, in conceiving space to be as complicated as it is or could be and in building as possible; shaping the space of life as a space for thought and not blighting it by putting on pompous airs. Second, there are parallels in their relationship to the United States. Loos received crucial impetus in Chicago in the 1890s. The influence of Louis Sullivan, including in terms of an architecture with allegiance to democracy, was lasting and unmistakable. For Schindler, America and its possibilities became reality in California. He could set off on his own path, if we ignore the obstacles the International Style put in his way. Loos’ fate, by contrast, was to get stuck in Europe’s dead end. My films about them mirror this core: Loos’ great spatial plan idea and what could become of it on two differing continents. The two films leave me with completely different feelings.


Can you briefly explain this spatial plan idea and th e differences you perceive in its implementation in th e U.S.A. and Europe?

Both architects built from the inside outward. Complex rooms interlock on several levels with
different heights, breaking up any simple division of stories. With Schindler, it seems more fragile,
because California’s climate permits designing a more flowing boundary between inside and outside; with Loos, it is more monumental, because he had to seal things off from the outside.

Villa Müller, Prag
It was said that Adolf Loos hated ornament. Your film is titled “Loos Ornamenta l” – which means
this time the ornamental aspect of architect ure is placed between the th ee-dimensionality of the spaces and the two-dimensionality of film. What interests you in particular in this series in comparison with your earlier films?

It’s true that Loos has the journalistic reputation of hating ornament. The misunderstanding is based on what people understand by the term. Ornament in the sense of floral relief really isn’t his bag. But if you enter the interiors he designed, all you see is ornamentation formed by the structures of the natural materials of wood, stone, metal, and textiles. Artfully arranging cut surfaces brings out the grain of wood and the veining of marble. To be contrarian: the materials he uses in the overall composition of a room appear as ornamentation. In its interlocking character, the constructed space itself is a three-dimensional ornament. Loos didn’t worry about his supposed contradictions. Unfortunately, his pretentious 1910 essay Ornament and Crime has been completely
distorted and absolutized. He was not a terrible simplifier. What interests me is complexity, a complex spatial grid through which reality can be recognized, and he offers that to me and my camera.

Villa Müller, Prag
In “Schindler’s Houses”, you used the term “crime” in connection with the atempt to remove the work of an individual architect from its surroundings to make a film about it. Are architects and filmmakers beholden to the same morality? Are crimes there to be committed?

Most of the buildings by architects who interest me are inconceivable apart from the site where they were constructed. They function only in relation to a very specific place. This spatial environment shapes the scale and creates relationships that then can no longer be arbitrary. Of course, building and filming in accordance with this guideline entails a certain fundamental or moral stance. Montages of attractions, as with Eisenstein or Vigo, interest me in architecture as little as they do in film. I want to reproduce the stream of surfaces and not a stupid idea. But in the course of time, the original surroundings of buildings disappear and a general, uncontrollable disorder spreads – inevitably. And that’s called reality and even crime can only stop it for a short time.

The marble in a Loos house, in particular, shows how the inner structure of a material is turned outward. The relationship between inside and outside plays a special role in this film: you had initially planned to take footage solely of interior spaces, but then decided to film the building from the outside as well.

I couldn’t carry out the plan, because a radical interior affects the exterior as well. Loos always ended up with building exteriors that put him in intense opposition to the buildings of his Central European surroundings and their ways of thinking.


The best-known example of that is surely the Loos House on Michaelerplatz in Vienna. “Schindler’s Houses” is also a portrait of the city of Los Angeles – the vistas permit a camera perspective that stages the surroundings. “Maillart’s Brücken” (“Maillart‘s bridges”, 2000) practically demanded that their environment be brought into the picture, because bridges exist only to make connections in the exterior world. How did you deal cinematically with the contradict ions between Loos’s buildings and their surroundings? To what degree is this film a portrait of Europe or specifically of Vienna?

An old European city is a thicket; nature can hardly find a way into it. A certain dialectic or confrontation between various buildings is more likely than between a building and nature. In our cities, we are constantly fighting to maintain the way the city looks, as if that were a value in itself. Whole agencies are devoted to enforcing standardized roof heights. Senseless city palace facades are rebuilt to intimidate us with the idiocy of past centuries. Nature becomes an accessory and not the main theme, as it will always be in Los Angeles, because of its ruggedness. So there are two fundamentally different starting points that are reflected in the films almost by themselves. Maybe the two films about Loos’ and Schindler’s buildings have such different effects because I use very similar means of expression. In this way, the different architectures and preconditions are revealed unhindered, rather than being obscured by dramaturgical measures.


As in your other architecture films, the arrangement of the buildings in “Loos Ornamental” is chronological, so that the days when the shooting was done, which are faded in ascaptions, are not chronological. This principle is found in all these films. What relationship is there between your biographical data and the architects ’ biographies?


There are simple facts about a film and its objects, for example how long an object has existed and when the pictures of an object were made. That alone could speak volumes to an attentive viewer. It moves me when I can place the moment of a recording – whether of a picture or of a piece of music – in relation to my own time of life. In this case, I myself am the maker and I know where I was on a particular day. This is a kind of diary assuring me that there are certain bulges in time that are worth living for.

Your exhibition “Die Basis des Make-Up ” has been on show at Hamburger Bahnhof since December. The three films in the series “Photography and Beyond”, “The Basis of Make-Up I–III ”, which can be seen at the exhibition, you call basic films and master tapes for other films. In the framework of the Forum expanded, you show the performance The Basis of Make-Up in a movie theater built especially for the purpose. All of your works are in series, follow interlocking principles of or der, integrate earlier works in newer ones, and have headings and captions. Your work biography thus takes on something sculptural, like that of an architect.

Villa Müller, PragI didn’t plan it out in advance, it just came that way. I do experience films as architectures in time, and groups of films result in proximities. Drawing and writing differ from film in their relationship to surfaces of reality. These activities necessarily produce a thinking contrary to that of the work of a cinematographer, but they would not be possible without precise relations to surfaces and their design. The whole thing results in an open system of unfinished series and constellations, but in which finished films or drawings definitely have a place.

Considering this affinity, how do you choose the architects you make films about?

There are another four architects or construction engineers I plan to make monographic films about: Luis Barragán in Mexico, Auguste Perret in France and Algeria, Pier Luigi Nervi in Italy and Ulrich Müther in Germany. With the films on Sullivan, Maillart, Loos, Schindler, Kiesler, Goff, and the buildings of some contemporary Austrians, what emerges is a picture of Modernism for which I can develop affection. All of these architects stepped out of the given framework and at the same time felt committed to human dimensions – without swearing allegiance to any ideologies of canonizing their building block sets or policing people’s taste. All other architectures – or, better, architectonic situations – that I want to film in the future will appear in feature films – nameless, as a mess, as reality commands.

Who funds these projects, and how long does planning and implementation take, respectively?

The last four major projects were financed in Austria, because they were about Austrian architects. I don’t know how things will continue. On the one hand, funding should become easier, because the series now enjoys great international respect and all the films are shown in cinemas and distributed on DVDs. On the other hand, the widespread use of video has ruined prices and led to a situation in which this kind of 35 mm project is hardly possible anymore. But without 35 mm, count me out, because the sense of the series emerges only in high resolution and with the best cinema sound quality. I’ve been planning the individual films of the series Photographie und jenseits for more than ten years. When the funding is secured, a project can be carried out within a year.

Interview: Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Berlin, January 2008
Stefanie Schulte Strathaus is curator of the sections “Forum” and “Forum Expanded” at the Berlin International Film Festival.