Loos interiors on display at the Wallenstein Garden

Panels showcase the modern architect's groundbreaking design work in Plzeň

Plzeň is home to some of the interior design work of modern architect Adolf Loos. He designed the Müller Villa in Prague, but more of his work was in West Bohemia. A series of panels on display in the Prague's Wallenstein Garden until Sept. 16 shows that aspect of his career. There, he mainly designed interiors for members of the wealthy Jewish community in Plzeň, which had the second largest synagogue in Europe.

Eight of his 13 Plzeň interiors have survived and three have been open to the public since last year, when Plzeň was a European Capital of Culture. Additional interiors are open on special occasions.

Some of the interiors required extensive reconstruction, as time had taken its toll. Replicas of some furniture pieces were made based on photographs and designs.

The panels in Wallenstein Garden will also give some background on Loos' life. He was born in Brno in 1870 and died in Vienna in 1933, and was a noted architect and advocate of modern architectural theory. From the late 1890s, he was based in Vienna.

His work in Plzeň was in two phases, from 1907 to '10 and from 1927 to '32, and most were in the area around Klatovská třída, a wealthy part of town.

A big influence on his career was a trip to the US in 1893–96, where he saw the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and also visited other cities such as St Louis and New York. He then broke from the Art Nouveau movement and instead supported clean lines and no ornamentation. He was also influenced by a trip to the Greek islands.

Much of his early buildings and designs faced criticism when it was built but are generally now considered to be landmarks, if they have survived. His influence is also undeniable.

If the panels pique your curiosity, you can buy tickets online to see the buildings in Plzeň at www.plzen.eu

Tours are usually in the Czech language, but books on Loos and his work are available at bookstores in English.

The Wallenstein Garden (Valdštejnská zahrada) is open weekdays from 7:30 am to 7 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm, and the panel display is free of charge. Information on the garden is here: www.prague.eu

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