Note on Modernism as Rurality

A curious thought following from the previous post: what if for Schinkel, the stripping of ornament that is performed at the New Pavilion is actually a marker of rurality, rather than urbanity, as Loos claims? In favour of this thought, the fact that the Pavilion is in fact a rural, or at least semi-rural building. It is constructed in the grounds of the Schloss Charlottenhof as a retreat for the Emperor, a place to withdraw from the formalities of the court and European politics, a place for ‘slumming it’. The simple form of the house would then be understood as a kind of poverty. The New Pavilion requires no extensive tour to reveal its extents. Rather, it sits in a clearing, able to be apprehended as a single block. Loos similarly makes his Moller house in Prague a single white block. But Loos calls on this blankness, these scraped surfaces, to signify the dislocated condition which he argues is innate to civility and urbanity; and perhaps it is in this movement that we might seek  Loos’ greatest originality.


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