Alle Beiträge von monaelamir

Richard Neutra, Landfair Apartments, 1937, Westwood LA

After we visited the Schindler House in Kings Road in West Hollywood, we made our way to the Landfair Apartments by Neutra. The building complex is still inhabited by students and it is near the UCLA campus. It is barely visible from the street, because large trees obstruct the view. Further the surrounding densely populated and also it is enclosed by other modern buildings that put the exemplary architecture of Neutra in the background. We were lucky that a student of UCLA was able to give us a tour of the building and so we were allowed to have a look into the inner space. The building is located on a hill on the corner of Landfair Avenue and Ophir Drive in Westwood.

Viewed up close it looks dilapidated. We went with the student to the first floor of the one-story living quarters in the east and unfortunately here also everything looks neglected. On that floor the rooms of the students were located. From the steps on the right side you were able to access the backyard, where you were able to better view the staggered configuration of the row houses, that give the effect of separated living. Here the impact of the aesthetic of Neutras architecture was clearly visible through the uniform formation and the clarity of surface expresses itself.  Below the first floor was an expansive living room with a large window front, which gives the room light. The for Neutra so typical metal window frames were unfortunately all painted over in white. Through the living-room you entered a balcony that spanned the whole east side of the building.

The student who gave us the tour told us that the majority of the students do not realise that they are living in such an important and exemplary building. Even so the building was built in 1937 it is still one of the great examples of International Style and it‘s hard to comprehend that it is now in such a neglected state.



Mona El Amir


John Lautner, Chemosphere / Malin Residence, 1960, LA

After we visited the highlight of our trip the Sheats-Goldstein Residence, we went on our way to visit another famous building of Lautner The Chemosphere. It reminded us of a flying saucer and was visible to the naked eye from afar and we could see it from the Mulholland Drive. We parked our vehicles on the lower level of the Torreyson Drive and walked up to have a better view of The Chemosphere. Unfortunately we did not get a reply from the owner Benedict Taschen to visit the inside of the house, so we could only view it from the outside.

The in 1960 built dwelling still distinguished itself from the surrounding dwellings. It seems like it sits enthroned with complete peace and amenity above Los Angeles. On one side we were lucky that everything was green on the other side the lush green vegetation obstructed the view of the pillar and the view of the platform, which is located under the octagonal ground plan, as well as of the small cable car that leads to the entrance of the building.

Despite the exclusive architecture of the building it blends into it‘s environment. Through the previous visit to the Sheats-Goldstein Residence I became a fuller understanding of Lautners architecture and his genius, which until then i only knew from theory. Because of that I could visualise the inner space even so I could only see it from afar.

It seems to me that Lautner dwellings integrate their surroundings but still distinguished them from the outer space through the materials that he used. He created structures in which he materialises space and room and makes it noticeable for the inhabitants. In other words it is what is „Between“ what Lautner manifests in his architecture: that being between inside and outside that harmonise at the same time, the connection between heaven and earth and the play of opaque and translucent architecture. So is the Chemosphere an imposing building not bound by time and which exists without comparison.



Mona El Amir

Richard Neutra Landfair Apartments, 1937, Westwood LA

Richard Neutra, Landfair Apartments, 1937, Westwood LA

Richard Neutra belongs to the architects who in America were leaders of the modern architecture and brought the modern of Europe to America. Neutra, who was born in Austria came 1923 to the USA to study architecture in NY and Chicago and learn from the organic buildings of Wright. He discovered together with his friend Rudolf Schindler South California in 1925, where he also lived in Schindlers innovative house for five years. Both from Austria emigrated architects became business-partners, but separated some time later.[1] His first big project in L.A was the Jardinette Building of 1927 and with his Lovell Health House 1929, he reached international acclaim. Because of this he was the only architect of the west coast invited to the big exposition about modern architecture in the MoMA in NY.[2]

Neutra‘s Style reached his highpoint in the thirties, where he was able through many projects to standardise his architectonic language. He worked many years on a universal form and a modular building-system. Since his years of study in Vienna, his years in Berlin with Mendelsohn and his residence in NY and Chicago Neutra worked with the problem and possibilities of multi-family dwellings. Because, since the twenties the demands of multi-family dwellings in the densely populated centrum of Los Angeles increased. The Jardinette building 1927 was the first multi-family house where there was still a traditional plan. So shows that in the 1930s completed project of the Landfair Apartments a completely modern form language delivered the future impulse for urban living space.[3] The client was Joseph Rabinovich and relatives, who invested in Landfair Apartments. The building of these complexes proofed difficult for Neutra, because part of the construction was built badly by the builder John Hudson. Nonetheless the Landfair Apartments belong to Neutra masterpieces in the 1930s construction.

The Landfair Apartment comprise of two buildings which are located on the south west corner of Landfair Avenue and Ophir Drive in Westwood Neighborhood of Los Angeles, near the west-side campus of UCLA. He decided on staggered row-houses that are always offset from the neighbor house, given the effect of separat but side by side units. The Apartment-Complex that is to the east and to the west aligned, it is comprised of two one story five-room-apartments in the east and six two story four-room apartments to the west.[4] Each apartment has a balcony and a common space that is reached from a staircase and is surrounded by a wooden fence. Built in skylights supply enough daylight in the deep rooms. He integrated his ever reappearing element of casement windows with metal frames, „a module of one meter steel swing windows determines the width of each unit“[5]. Through the universal and constant form of the front a cool aesthetic is built, which materialises in the clearity of the surface. Big windows run along the front and emphasise the horizontal orientation of the building. In addition the windows are integrated as part of the outer shell. So you can say that the landfair apartments are totally wrote in the International Style. „Here is the impact of the masses disappeared and in its place enters the effect of a clean object – or more clearly, a space surrounded by even surface.“[6]

Mona El Amir

[1] cf. Lamprecht, Barbara, Richard Neutra, Cologne 2006, p.13.

[2] cf. Lamprecht, Barbara, Richard Neutra, Cologne 2006, p.14.

[3] cf. Hines, Thomas S., Architecture of the Sun. Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970. New York 2010, p. 365 & 399.

[4] cf. Hines, Thomas S., 2010, p. 399.

[5] Lamprecht, Barbara, 2006, Richard Neutra. p. 41.

[6] Hitchcock, Henry-Russell & Johnson, Philip, The International Style, New York 1966, p. 42.

John Lautner, Chemosphere/ Malin Residence, 1960, LA

 John Lautner, Chemosphere/ Malin Residence, 1960, LA

The Malin House from John Lautner turns to an icon figure in the modern architecture of Los Angeles. He built nothing comparable in his career. It is a symbol of his architecture and materialise his architectonic knowledge of his craft. Through its innovative unequal form it reminds us of a UFO and catches the viewers eyes immediately. Until today it counts as one of the most extraordinary and unusually dwellings of the world and is located in the San Fernando Valley and the Hollywood Hills. Constructed and built in 1960 from the architect John Lautner, who immensely influenced the Modern Architecture in California.

The special thing on Lautner buildings is that for every location he found an architectonic solution which in a technical innovated construction has the appearance as well as the Chemosphere. In the year 1960 Lautner has had his office for twenty years and could unfold his original creativity in a variety of projects. The creation of an open and boundless space was Lautners central theme of his architecture. He always wanted the connection with humans and the surrounding nature that constructed a space that never separated the outer space. Illusionistic conceived and boundless space harmonises between heaven and earth. The Malin House that is called the Chemosphere, it is an example for such marriage between heaven and earth and the focus of a new quality of living. On a steep slope Lautner built a house supported by a single pole without disturbing the natural surrounding.[1]

The client of that project was Leonard Malin an engineer from the flight industry, who for 30,000$ wanted a one-family house on the steep slope above Mulholland Drive and contracted Lautner for that project.[2] Because he was employed by the flight industry and was open for new architectonic challenges, he was the right client for Lautner.[3] It was not a lot of money to build such a big house but he was open to the realisation of the project and took leave from his job for one year to assist with the building.[4]

The house is only accessible with a small tram that leads to a bridge from there you can reach the inside of the house. The octagonal foundation of the house is carried by a 8 meter high pole. The eight-sided building is constructed from steel and concrete and is protected by a flat dome. Waterpipes and septic-pipes are located in the middle of the pole. To be able to enjoy the view of the San Fernando Valley and optimise the location Lautner build a front of windows all around, so that the inhabitants have a phenomenal view.

Malin together with Lautner and John de la Vaux began in May 1959 with the building of the house. Especially by the construction of the roof you are able to recognize de la Vauxs experience in ship-building, that for the house has eight ship keels. Different as by Lautner previous buildings as example the Pearlman Cabine Lautner did not use a roof-construction that recurve back, but selected consciously a roof that bowed down all the way to the edge. Because of this bow the roof is visible from the inside and gives the eye a frame, so that you have the feeling of safety.[5] The massiv construction of the roof disappear at the endzone and leads to the glass being almost invisible. The main living space is composed of a dining-room, a built-in kitchen and a living-room, all in a open concept integrated. Closets and a sofa, which run along the outer wall are a seemless transition of the architecture and the living-space.

The Chemosphere embodies both, the innovative design and the knowledge of the craft. It was Malins idea to ask for donations for that project. Chemsfield Corporation and a variety of donas were important for this project. Besides Chemsfield Corporation the gaswerk southcalifornia donate 70,000$ in form of materials, glass and equipment. Because of this, the name Chemosphere is a combination of Chemsfield Corporation, the important sponsor and the word hemisphere for the half-dome.[6] Lautner often spoke of timeless architecture and it definetely succeeded with Chemosphere, even after 57 years after completion it still belongs to the modern houses that are timeless and stands alone. Adam Bear summarised the new living-experience when he writes: “Lautner created spaces that invite us to be primal inside them, and therefore, in some sense, to act free, even play.“[7] „They are micro worlds, open to space, with simultaneous access to the wild and shelter from it.“[8]

Mona El Amir

[1] cf. Campell-Lange, Barbara, John Lautner, Cologne 2016, p. 45.

[2] cf. Hess, Alan, The Architecture of John Lautner, New York 1999, p. 106.

[3] cf. Hutt, Dana, Experimental Jet Set. Aerospace and the modern house in Los Angeles, in: Overdrive: L.A constructs the future, 1940-1990 edited by Wim de Wit and Christopher James Alexander. Los Angeles 2013, p. 156.

[4] cf. Hess, Alan, The Architecture of John Lautner, New York 1999, p.107.

[5] cf. Campell-Lange, John Lautner, Cologne 2016, p. 45.

[6] see movie Infinite Space the Architect John Lautner. R: Murray Grigor. USA 2008.

[7] Bear, Adam, If You Were Cool, Rich, Or Bad Enough To Live Here, You‘d Be Home, Virginia Quarterly Review Winter 2013, p. 104 – 133, here p. 107.

[8] Bear, Adam, 2013, p. 124.