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The Kaufmann Desert House

The Kaufman Desert House Abandoned tradition to create a pared down, unornamented style that emphasized geometric shapes, punctuated with bands of windows, the international style was known as a new social theory of architecture. Architects are striving to create a new modern form and functional design by make use of new construction techniques and materials. Like: steel, curtain walls of glass, reinforced concrete and asymmetrical facade.

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There is no doubt that the styles of houses these architects designed were completely different than the previous era. By the mid-twentieth century, in southern California and the American southwest, the international style had evolved. Architect like :Richard Neutra(Figure 1), he adapted the International Style to the warm climate and their tradition building, creating an elegant yet informal style known as Desert Modernism. One of the significant example, The Kaufmann Desert House(Figure 2) represent Neutra’s elegant pavilion-style houses.

The Kaufmann Desert House is not only one of the most important examples of mid-century modernist architecture in the entire world but also stand out the typical Neutra building style, there were atterns, formulas, themes and motifs that distinguished his work from his modernist peers. To start with, expanded to form a building was the long, thin, sparely supported pavilion. By looking at the plan (Figure 3), the house located on a 1200 by 300 foot plot, with spectacular views of the mountains and desert, the 3800sqare-foot house was in the shape of a rough cross formed by two interesting exes.

It consists five bedrooms and five bathrooms, an outdoor sleeping area, a large pool, a tennis court, and striking mountain views. In addition, designs were virtually losed on one side and open on the other. Normally, the closed site will be away from the view or the major activity area, it might have a high, narrow, band of steel casement windows to let the light in. For instance, from the main south entrance, a covered walk moved past a large garages to the living and dining areas. Figure 4) West to kitchen and servants quarters,(Figure 5) and north to an open, covered, later enclosed, patio with guest rooms beyond. (Figure 6) On the other hand, the master bedroom was to the east, beside the living room. (Figure 7) Both living spaces and aster bedroom consider as an open site, it has a large sliding glass door-walls that dramatically integrated indoors and out. (Figure 8) A wall of moveable aluminum sheets that can either be closed to keep out the sun or opened to take advantage of the mid-afternoon breeze.

Furthermore, one of the significantly design was an open yet covered roof-top “gloriette” reached by outside stairs. (Figure 9) Why it is “open yet covered roof-top”? It is because the local authorities and city ordinances not allowed two-story dwellings. In order to get a better view of the desert. Netura devising this loriette with its sturdy fireplace, and adjustable louvered screen wall gave it the feeling of both an open porch and a snug, enclosed shelter. (Figure 10) The overall feeling of the house is light, airy and spacious.

It can be seen the relative massiveness of the house’s rock and concrete walls was lightened by the equally large expanses of glass and by the silver-gray metal trim. It emphasizes a connection to tne desert landscape. “As an arcnltect, my IITe nas Deen governed Dy tne goal 0T building environmental harmony, functional efficiency, and human enhancement into he experience of everyday living. These things go together, constituting the cause of architecture, and a life devoted to their realization cannot be an easy one. —Richard Neutra Last but not least, as the quote above, Richard Neutra believed that architecture should be a means of bringing man back into harmony with nature and with himself and was particularly concerned that his houses reflect the way of life of the owner. The Kauffman Desert House’s owner, Edgar Kaufmann(Figure 1 1) was a prominent Jewish German-American businessman and philanthropist. He owned and directed Kaufmann’s Department Store, the most prominent one in 20th- century Pittsburgh.

Edgar Kaufmann was the owner of two architectural masterpieces: the eastern mountain “Falling water” and western desert “Kaufmann House”. As the owner’s request that he want a greater feeling of lightness and openness. Due to the site environment and client’s needs, Neutra create a new regional approach to International Style –Desert Modernism, which includes the expansive glass walls and windows, dramatic rooflines, wide overhangs, open floor lans and outdoor living spaces incorporated into the overall design.

Richard Neutra’s domestic architecture was a blend of art, landscape and practical comfort. (Figure 1: Richard Neutra) (Figure 2: The Kaufmann Desert House) (Figure 3: Floor plan ) (Figure 4: Path way to living hall ) (Figure 5: Kitchen interior) (Figure 6: Guest room ) (Figure 7: Living and bedroom area) (Figure 8: Integrated indoor and out view) (Figure 9: Staircase to gloriette) (Figure 10: Gloriette) (Figure 11: Edgar Kaufmann 1940) Reference Internet: 1 . http://en. wikipedia. rg/wiki/Kaufmann_Desert_House 2. http://www. cet. org/arts/artbound/counties/riverside/iconography. html 3. http:// www. lamnotastalKer. com/2U UB/tne-KauTmann-nouse . / 4 nttpw en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Edgar_J. _Kaufmann 5. http://architecture. about. com/od/greatarchitects/p/richardneutra. htm 6. http:// en. wikipedia. org/wiki/lnternational_style_(architecture) 7. http:// www. portal. state. pa. us/portal/server. pt/community/modern_movements/2391/ international_style/408691 8. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Richard_Neutra 9. http://architecturaltechnologies. logspot. om/2009/01/richard-neutra-and-his- kaufmann-desert. html 10. http://architecture. about. com/od/20thcenturytrends/ig/ Modern-Architecture/lnternational-style. htm Book : Richard Neutra and the Search for Modern Architecture: A Biography and History By Thomas S. Hines Picture credit : 1 . http://explorepahistory. com/displayimage. php? imgId=1-2-136A 2. http:// www. google. com/imgres 3 . http://designaddicts. com. au/platform/category/architecture/page/21/4. http:// designformenmag. comnp=1693 5. http://www. nytimes. com/2007/10/31/arts/design/31 hous. html?


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