Villa Müller in Praha
The Villa Müller (, ) is an architectural structure designed in 1930 by architect Adolf Loos, born in Brno, Austria-Hungary (later Czechoslovalia). The villa is located in Prague, Czech Republic. The house was designed originally for Mr. František Müller and his wife, Milada Müllerová.
The building was commissioned by František Müller and his wife, Milada Müllerová. Mr. Müller was an engineer and co-owned a construction company called Kapsa and Müller. The company specialized in reinforced concrete, developing new construction techniques. Loos' method of design was also in transition, making the timing of the project appropriate. Soon, the architect Karel Lhota set František Müller up with Loos to design the villa. Lhota also contributed to the design due to Loos' poor health. After the building was completed, Loos celebrated his 60th birthday there with a few friends. The couple freely inhabited the house for eighteen years before Communists seized control of it in 1948. In 1968, after the death of Milada Müllerová the most important parts of the Villa fittings and collections were purchased by the Museum of Applied Arts and the National Gallery. The Villa was then pronounced a Cultural Monument of the Czechoslovak Republic. In 1989, when Communism died, the house was turned over to the Müllers' daughter, Eva Maternová. She sold it to the City of Prague in 1995, who put it in the care of the City of Prague Museum. The house was restored in 1998 and finally, re-opened as a museum in 2000.
Known as an innovative landmark of early modernist architecture, the Villa Müller embodies Loos' ideas of economy and functionality. The spatial design, known as Raumplan, is evident in the multi-level parts of individual rooms, indicating their function and symbolic importance. Raumplan is exhibited in the interior as well as the exterior.
The exterior displayed Loos' theory discussed in his 1908 essay, "Ornament and Crime". In the essay, Loos criticized decorated surfaces. For the exterior of the Villa Müller, Loos designed a white, cubic facade. He also wanted to distinguish between the outside, where the view could be seen by the public eye, and the inside, the private spaces of those who lived there. Consequently, the interior is lavishly decorated with comfortable furniture and marble, wood, and silk surfaces.<ref name="Villa Mueller Prague by Adolf Loos"/>
In 1992, Beatriz Colomina, architectural historian and theorist and author of Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media, examined and discussed the Villa Müller in the book, Sexuality and Space (1992). It focused on the relationships between sexuality and space hidden within everyday practices. The book is a collection of essays addressing gender in relation to architectural dialogue and critical theory. Colomina's essay, The Split Wall: Domestic Voyeurism, deals with gender spaces in various architectural structures. Colomina was interested in Loos' multi-level spatial design of the Villa Müller. She discusses Loos' opaque, covered windows of the house and how he would set sofas in front of the windows to angle the person sitting in the sofa towards the interior of the house. Colomina includes Loos' idea of a theater box as a claustrophobic space if not for the large, open space to look out on. Psychologically, the theater box could signify power and control inside of the house. In the Villa Müller, Loos designed a raised sitting area which Colomina interprets as the theater box as well as the 'female' space because of its domestic character. Moreover, Colomina suggests that the 'female' space is considered private and contrasts with the 'male', public spaces of the house. The voyeur concept in the Villa Müller is revealed through the theater box. The theater box draws attention to itself. At the same time the occupant of the box is looking out, the person looking at the theater box views the most intimate space. Therefore, the person in the theater box becomes the object. Colomina infers a unique theory of Loos' interior design of the Villa Müller.