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In 1923 the eminent 20th century architect Adolf Loos designed the body of a car. At the back of a reminder and envelope from his Parisian landlord he paraphrised his signature in french and next to it he drew sketches of an automobile specifying the type „lancia".

The car is angular and rugged as was the convention then. The rear part consists of a single unit which anticipates the construction of caravans from the 50s. It also anticipates the spatial efficiency of modern compact cars as it is shaped like a wedge with the wheels at the corners. Possibly, Loos was once again the visionary, way ahead of its time.

Obviously the architects of this period were interested in modern means of transport, automobiles in particular. Le Corbusier influenced the design of a Voisin and in addition built the house to accommodate it (the Villa Savoye close to Paris; the automobile was a part of the architecture , the ground shape corresponds with the turning circle of the Voisin!)

The Loosmobil

The automobile - the ultimate idea of mobility and independence for the bourgeoisie - fitted the „American" concept of life also represented in Adolf Loos´ architecture and theory. Given his aggressive and elitist ideas Loos was stopped by his socialist rivals. Loos rejected: „I am a communist. The difference between myself and a Bolshevik is that I want to turn everyone into an aristocrat whereas he wants to turn everyone into a proletarian."


Lambda expert Bill Jamieson on the Loos-design: „ The sketches are most interesting -- if only we could speak with Loos, and know the direction of his thinking! The plan view of the body, from above, with its wider centre section, is particularly intriguing. My feeling is that this is an illustration of the functionalist approach to providing maximum passenger comfort with the minimum vehicle dimensions, and seems to me to have very little to do with streamlining, which after all was concerned with smooth rounded external surfaces and the reduction of airflow turbulence. Of course, we are speaking of a time before wind-tunnel testing, although the basic principles of aerodynamics were certainly known and practised by 1923."

Jamieson: „When I look again at the Loos sketches, I am struck by the angularity and the severe frontal treatment. When it first appeared, the Lambda was criticised by some for what they saw as a stark uncompromising shape."





Thus, what we can see here is a combination of revolutionary car design (Lambda) and the principles of modern and evolutionary (meaning somehow conservative) architecture around 1920.

I am convinced that Loos' body on a Lambda chassis would make an eye-stopper at any concours d' elegance! Who dares?



Josef Wöss,
Vienna, April 2004


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