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2022-06-15 11:19:27 By : Ms. Helen Liu

If one wants to live the American dream, this 210 m2 house is the 'place of the soul'. Built for the 1936 'California House and Garden Exposition' in Los Angeles for the purpose of presenting the latest technological developments in housing, the house was designed to be easily dismantled and relocated at the end of the exhibition. Its large spaces flooded with light, its simple and elegant volumetries, its free and flexible floor plan and the uninterrupted continuity between interior and exterior recall the language of Californian Modernism of which Neutra is a master.

A modernist masterpiece by Jean Prouvé, the 150 square metre, single-storey house in the bay of Saint-Tropez is built according to a prefabricated technology ("alba" system) that allows for easy assembly and re-assembly of the concrete and aluminium construction elements, in the name of maximum lightness and minimum ecological footprint. The essential shells in exposed wood panels and the terracotta floors contribute to giving the space a rustic and domestic aura. The modular, interconnected rooms are spacious and bright, offering considerable flexibility in the interior layout.

The house for a couple of intellectuals is an opportunity for Ellwood, already a recognised exponent of Californian Modernism, to explore the construction technology of wood, far from the tastes of the architect who instead appreciated the aesthetics and structural qualities of steel. Nevertheless, amidst the gum trees, oaks and eucalyptus trees, the one-storey "box-like" dwelling, raised above the ground, with its rustic aura seems to blend mimetically into the landscape that generously penetrates through the full-height glazed openings.

The house, the first independent project of the then 31-year-old Richard Meier, located on the shore of a lake, was specially designed to enhance its relationship with its surroundings. The front facing the landscape, overlooked by the main rooms of domestic life - living room on the ground floor, dining room on the first floor and playroom on the second floor - is completely perforated by large, full-height windows, in contrast to the closed, introverted fronts that enclose the more reserved and intimate rooms of the house. A construction technology of point elements in wood and steel, which leaves the masonry only for the fireplace, lightens the structure and allows ample flexibility in the internal organisation.

An anti-gravitational, futuristic sculpture or a spaceship ready for take-off: this is what the house overlooking the Salish Sea, west of Vancouver, looks like, reflecting the Canadian architect's design vision centred on an intimate, almost symbiotic fusion of architecture and nature. The volumes with sharp lines and exaggerated angles, clad in cedar wood, accommodate large, light-filled spaces that extend generously towards the spectacular ocean and forest panorama.

Built for a famous industrialist, Neutra's only work in France and the last of his career seems to want to bring some of the California sunshine to Northern France. With its 370 square metres on two levels, it embodies all the language of Californian Modernism: from the punctiform structure with beams and pillars, to the open and flexible floor plan, to the pure volumes with marked horizontal progression, to the large glazed walls.  Due to the different cultural and climatic conditions, however, the building is more compact than Neutra's overseas architecture in order to limit energy expenditure, and local materials such as bricks from the nearby town of Hem and sandstone floors from Artois, alongside the ever-present glass and concrete, create a tactile and figurative link with the local context.

As is generally the case with Murcutt's architecture, this 172 square metre house is so connected to the land in which it sits that it almost feels like an irreplaceable piece of the landscape. The building, set into the side of a sandstone hill, enhances the value of "natural" living with minimal environmental impact, making the most of its orientation to control wind exposure and sunshine, as well as to frame privileged views of the surrounding unspoilt reserve. The open, flexible and functional floor plan and the simple but high-quality details convey a somewhat shy but elegant and welcoming character.

This luminous, 144 square metre loft located in a lively area near the Canal Saint-Martin, between the Quai de Jemmapes and the Goncourt metro station, has an appearance somewhere between the material and the minimal and is the result of the renovation of a former warehouse. In the large, flexible rooms, the palette of raw, warm materials - from the original stone of the kitchen floors, patio and structural pillars to the solid wood of the floor - contrasts pleasantly with the essential character of the glass of the doors and structural elements and of the metal of the sliding doors, fixtures and structural elements.

If one wants to live the American dream, this 210 m2 house is the 'place of the soul'. Built for the 1936 'California House and Garden Exposition' in Los Angeles for the purpose of presenting the latest technological developments in housing, the house was designed to be easily dismantled and relocated at the end of the exhibition. Its large spaces flooded with light, its simple and elegant volumetries, its free and flexible floor plan and the uninterrupted continuity between interior and exterior recall the language of Californian Modernism of which Neutra is a master.

A modernist masterpiece by Jean Prouvé, the 150 square metre, single-storey house in the bay of Saint-Tropez is built according to a prefabricated technology ("alba" system) that allows for easy assembly and re-assembly of the concrete and aluminium construction elements, in the name of maximum lightness and minimum ecological footprint. The essential shells in exposed wood panels and the terracotta floors contribute to giving the space a rustic and domestic aura. The modular, interconnected rooms are spacious and bright, offering considerable flexibility in the interior layout.

The house for a couple of intellectuals is an opportunity for Ellwood, already a recognised exponent of Californian Modernism, to explore the construction technology of wood, far from the tastes of the architect who instead appreciated the aesthetics and structural qualities of steel. Nevertheless, amidst the gum trees, oaks and eucalyptus trees, the one-storey "box-like" dwelling, raised above the ground, with its rustic aura seems to blend mimetically into the landscape that generously penetrates through the full-height glazed openings.

The house, the first independent project of the then 31-year-old Richard Meier, located on the shore of a lake, was specially designed to enhance its relationship with its surroundings. The front facing the landscape, overlooked by the main rooms of domestic life - living room on the ground floor, dining room on the first floor and playroom on the second floor - is completely perforated by large, full-height windows, in contrast to the closed, introverted fronts that enclose the more reserved and intimate rooms of the house. A construction technology of point elements in wood and steel, which leaves the masonry only for the fireplace, lightens the structure and allows ample flexibility in the internal organisation.

An anti-gravitational, futuristic sculpture or a spaceship ready for take-off: this is what the house overlooking the Salish Sea, west of Vancouver, looks like, reflecting the Canadian architect's design vision centred on an intimate, almost symbiotic fusion of architecture and nature. The volumes with sharp lines and exaggerated angles, clad in cedar wood, accommodate large, light-filled spaces that extend generously towards the spectacular ocean and forest panorama.

Built for a famous industrialist, Neutra's only work in France and the last of his career seems to want to bring some of the California sunshine to Northern France. With its 370 square metres on two levels, it embodies all the language of Californian Modernism: from the punctiform structure with beams and pillars, to the open and flexible floor plan, to the pure volumes with marked horizontal progression, to the large glazed walls.  Due to the different cultural and climatic conditions, however, the building is more compact than Neutra's overseas architecture in order to limit energy expenditure, and local materials such as bricks from the nearby town of Hem and sandstone floors from Artois, alongside the ever-present glass and concrete, create a tactile and figurative link with the local context.

As is generally the case with Murcutt's architecture, this 172 square metre house is so connected to the land in which it sits that it almost feels like an irreplaceable piece of the landscape. The building, set into the side of a sandstone hill, enhances the value of "natural" living with minimal environmental impact, making the most of its orientation to control wind exposure and sunshine, as well as to frame privileged views of the surrounding unspoilt reserve. The open, flexible and functional floor plan and the simple but high-quality details convey a somewhat shy but elegant and welcoming character.

This luminous, 144 square metre loft located in a lively area near the Canal Saint-Martin, between the Quai de Jemmapes and the Goncourt metro station, has an appearance somewhere between the material and the minimal and is the result of the renovation of a former warehouse. In the large, flexible rooms, the palette of raw, warm materials - from the original stone of the kitchen floors, patio and structural pillars to the solid wood of the floor - contrasts pleasantly with the essential character of the glass of the doors and structural elements and of the metal of the sliding doors, fixtures and structural elements.

It is well known that selling family jewellery is generally inadvisable and perhaps this applies even more so if the jewel is an iconic piece of architecture, with a strong testimonial value both to the thinking of its designer and to the time and place in which it was built.

However, the ups and downs of the seasons of life and the moods of the owners, or much more prosaically the very high running costs of dream homes, result in a Baudelerian downfall of the aura of these poems made of matter, that shatters against the harsh and dozy laws of the real estate market.

Of course, even if one understands and appreciates the inspiration and motivation behind the built form, it is not for everyone to be able to afford a rise to the living Olympus of the Gods, and often these dwellings risk languishing in the pond of oblivion, or perhaps even worse, falling victim to buyers unaware of their true value who buy them to flaunt a status symbol, to which they unhappily offer their own unlikely creative contribution.

This is what happens to many buildings of famous signatures that remain mute witnesses of their past glories, waiting for a salvific 'angel' to restore them to a life worthy of their creation: from the works of the masters of Modernism in the United States (Neutra, Ellwood, Meier) and Europe ( Prouvé) who conceived dwellings for a modern and dynamic life realised with construction technologies – in steel, concrete or wood – resistant to the ravages of time and still extremely relevant today in terms of flexibility and minimal ecological footprint; to architectures that declare an inexhaustible will to build a dialectical and sometimes symbiotic relationship with the natural landscape in which they are located ( Murcutt, Erickson); to interventions that interpret pre-existing buildings with a contemporary language harmoniously inserted in a continuous process of historical stratification ( Nouvel).

In all cases, the lucky buyer who can afford it will not only be able to live in a prestigious home but also enjoy a profound cultural experience, in search of the roots of thought – on life, on customs, on society – of those who gave form and substance to those spaces by designing not only a home but a piece of contemporary architectural history.

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