Alle Beiträge von neu

Rudolph M. Schindler: Schindler House (Kings Road House), 1921/22, 833 North Kings Road, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

The first thing one notices when entering the building, is how chilly it is in comparison to the boiling Californian heat. Right after that, a feeling of constriction settles in, which is mostly caused by the low redwood ceiling. Only after passing a couple of rooms until one finally sees the first Shoji-Screens, this constrictive sensation eventually vanishes. Interestingly enough we’ve learned about Wright’s preference for a play of oppression and relief in context of his Hollyhock House just one day before, but I didn’t exactly understand its benefit until experiencing this sensation at his mate Schindler’s house.

The gleaming daylight appeared to be even harsher in contrast to the dullness of the inside.

In addition to the low ceiling and it’s effects on the visitor, the strips of transparent and translucent glass actually were not capable of filling the place with daylight, causing the rooms to be quite dim. Both together these impressions intensified the feeling of relief, experienced after (finally) making it to the open walls, which let the gleaming daylight in. Furthermore, by creating this almost harsh contrast between light and dark, the alleged abolishment of the common partition of the inside and outside seemed less fluent than described in the literature.

Unfurnished room with fireplace.

Also conflicting with the image created by the media – at least for me personally – was the lack of furnishings, causing the house to feel cold and almost dead. Staged as a residence for plenty of contemporary avant-garde people and a place of refined conversation, the current state of the Schindler House misses most of its previous liveliness. On the other hand though, the unfurnished rooms highlighted the architect’s intention to create universal spaces, being fully adaptable to the resident’s needs.

Unfurnished room with fireplace.

Besides the bathrooms and kitchen, the only piece of furniture that was left in the dwelling turned out to be a table-shelf-contraption with two chairs in Schindler’s room, which were both designed by him. In this light I wish there were more of his furniture to actually look at, as he devised quite a numerous amount for his buildings. Nonetheless, the concrete shower tub and sink were very impressive.

Schindler’s Bathroom with concrete sink and bathtub.
The ’sleeping baskets‘.

Likewise, the ’sleeping baskets‘ on the bungalow’s roof were worthwhile looking at. Overgrown with vines, which caused the most beautiful play of light and shade underneath, they lead to romanticised imaginations of sleeping under the nightly Californian sky, only emphasising the architect’s close relationship to nature and his abandonment of traditional room configuration.

View from the garden, where the drought left visble damage.

Owned by the Friends of the Schindler House organization, which partnered up with the MAK, the Kings Road House is claimed to be restored as nearly as possible to Schindler’s intentions. Sadly, the reality proves itself to be different: With plenty of cracks in the concrete walls, weathered window frames and a garden composed of patchy lawn and muddy ground the Schindler House seemed to urgently require general renovation works. Even though it is inherently acceptable to allow signs of aging, the overall look of the house appeared to be decay as opposed to persistence.

To conclude this revision of the Schindler House – and although it may not sound like I personally enjoyed the visit – I honestly think the building is worth spending your time at while staying in Los Angeles. Eventually the absence of furnishings and the noticeable signs of aging are unable to deprive the essence of the Schindler House, leaving it to be one of the most memorable stops on our fieldtrip for me.

M. E. N.

Richard Neutra: Lovell Health House, 1927-29, 4616 Dundee Lane, Los Angeles, CA

Driving up the Hollywood Hills for quite some time before finally arriving at our destination made me understand why it was so difficult to plan and build houses in this area. Personally, when reading about ‘difficult subsoil’ and ‘steep slopes’, I was not able to conceive the real size of this architectural problem. Naturally, the on site experience made me appreciate the innovative techniques even more than before and left me excited to finally see Neutra’s Lovell Health House, due to its pioneering construction technique.

Accessibility of the house through the top floor.

It was known prior to the trip: there was no public viewing available for this house and thereby limiting the real life experience to an observation from street level, as the property was private and trespassing was permitted. Consequently, the top floor was most of what was to be seen. Even though knowing about the house being build downwards from the street level because of the difficult subsoil, the visual experience alternated quite drastically from what was shown on Shulman’s photographs. Most of the images were taken looking up to the building and thereby presenting and emphasising its monumentality. From street level however, it appeared much less imposing. Additionally, this experience leaves one to reflect about the accuracy of images in books. As I do not recall one that actually showed the view from the street level, highlighting the fact, that the so-called ‚bel étage‘ was in exception to the norm found to be downstairs.

Outside view of the famous staircase.

Sadly, as our view was limited to the exterior, we were only able to catch a glimpse from the outside at the famous staircase with its out of context Ford headlights. And there is no way for me to comment on any of its interior, except for the fact of its subsequently added wheelchair-accessibility.

The closest we could get to Shulman’s images.

It furthermore seemed to be not taken care of at all, as the plaster was coming off and generally was in a very poor condition. All this leads me to the conclusion, the Lovell Health House is in the hands of a person who either is not capable of restoring the building or – even worse – does not see its historical and artistic substance.

Retrospectively the visit to Neutra’s famous house for the Lovell family turned out to be quite disappointing, as it could not hold up to the expectations made prior to the visit. Nevertheless is it an exceptional piece of architecture and definitely worth a short visit. Besides the building itself you’ll be rewarded with an exeptional view  of the Hollywood Hills and the Griffith Observatory. If you keep your expectations low, you’re not going to be disappointed, even though what you’ve seen on Shulmans images is nothing close to what you’re actually going to encounter.

M. E. N.

Richard Neutra: Lovell Health House, 1927-29, 4616 Dundee Lane, Los Angeles, CA

Lovell Health House

When looking at Richard Neutra’s Lovell Health House, built from 1927 – 29 for Philip Lovell and his family, the wildly used “machine in the garden” motif becomes easily comprehensible. As it raises above one of the Hollywood Hill’s precipices, with its spiderleg steelwork and the light concrete walls contrasting the roughness of the seemingly untouched subsoil, there is something truly futuristic about it’s appearance. But even more than the houses’ exterior, the construction technique turned out to be pioneering. Settled on subsoil this difficult – impossible even – Richard Neutra not alone was to design a dwelling for an avant-garde client, but furthermore had to come up with the actual way of construction to implement his vision into reality (Lamprecht, p. 23).

Lovell Health House (overview)

For the first time in (Western) American residential building Neutra  exclusively used prefabricated structural steelwork, which enabled the base framework to be set-up within only four days (Wandel-Hoefer, p. 188). Additionally, by tying the steelwork to the escarpment and adjusting it to the uneven surface, Neutra was able to leave most of the subsoil untouched (Lamprecht, p. 23). Because of the use of prefabricated elements the actual quantity of material used for the dwelling could be minimised drastically (Sack, p. 13). Altogether Neutra did not only work out the most economic method for his clients, but also found a way to represent both the Lovell family’s ecologic mindset and the general health and hygiene reformation found particularly in the Californian Modernism in his project.

Especially this last point is crucial in describing Richard Neutra’s architectural approach: As part of his cutting-edge methods, he analysed the Lovell’s behaviour and lifestyle patterns; for planning the kitchen he even talked to their chef, all in order to gear the residence to their individual needs, as his overall aim was creating a harmonic habitat; ideally with some sort of “psycho-physiological and therapeutic depth effect” (Exner, p. 7) on his clients. Retrospectively Neutra’s so-called “biorealism”, “his own […] philosophy, a mixture of psychology and physiology, of biology and ecology” (Sack, p. 25) assorted incredibly well with Dr. Lovell’s nature-oriented mindset, revealing them to be a perfect match for one another.

Inside the Lovell Health House, view on the famous staircase with Ford automobile headlight

Turning towards the structural steelwork for one last time, it is important to add that Neutra was not primarily about showcasing it as an aesthetic element. By mostly hiding it behind concrete panels and balustrades and additionally not visibly including it in the interiors, it is easily observed that he was prioritizing modularity, regularity and a puristic simplicity (Wandel-Hoefer, p. 188f.).

Now to conclude this short perfunctory overview, looking back at the Lovell Health House, what is there to expect from the real-life experience in contrast to the reception of images? As Richard Neutra said himself, the documentation of an architectural phenomenon through photography reveals itself to be a restriction to the sense of vision (Wandel-Hoefer, p. 172). Precisely because photographers like Shulman manage to create remarkably aesthetic sceneries, architecture – just like sculptures – can only be fully experienced in person. Consequently by visiting the Lovell Health House I hope to not only gather impressions differing from Shulman’s quite specifically staged ones but to also develop a closer apprehension of Neutra’s “biorealism” philosophy. Additionally I’m interested to see if there have been any major changes since Shulman’s photographs were taken and to conclude with the most obvious, if what we can actually see of the Lovell Health House is in any way comparable to what we’ve previously seen in the media.




Exner, Hermann: Einleitung. In: Richard und Dion Neutra: Bauen und die Sinneswelt. Berlin und Hamburg 1980, S. 6 – 21

Lamprecht, Barbara: Richard Neutra 1892 – 1970. Gestaltung für ein besseres Leben, Köln 2016

Sack, Manfred: Richard Neutra. Zürich 1992

Wandel-Hoefer, Rena: Zur Architektur Richard Neutras. Eine Analyse seines theoretischen Werkes und der Umsetzung in seinen Bauten, Darmstadt 1989

– M. E. N.

Rudolph M. Schindler: Schindler House (Kings Road House), 1921/22, 833 North Kings Road, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

The Schindler House

“A Cooperative Dwelling for Two Young Couples” (E. Smith, p. 29) is what Rudolph Schindler described the Kings Road House as. Interested in exploring alterative ways of shared housing, Rudolph and Pauline Schindler allied themselves with Clyde Chase – an engineer working for Irving Gill, who was an architect that among others was  known for his tilt up beton method, which has also been used in the construction process of the Schindler house – and his wife Marian, who Pauline was friends with, to realize the architect’s first independent building (K. Smith, p. 30).

Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, CA-1939
The Schindler House (overview)

After spending some time at Wright’s Taliesin and being enthusiastic about “its organization as an artist’s studio where buildings and landscape were in harmony” (ibid.), Schindler embraced the studio scheme for the Kings Road House. Going hand in hand with his perception of “the family as a group of independent individuals with common goals” (K. Smith, p. 21), Schindler not only gave each of the members their own studio, but also arranged them around the corporately used utility room, which combined the functions of a kitchen, laundry, storage and sewing-room at once (K. Smith, p. 30). Additionally, in order to discard traditional concepts of room configuration, “sleeping-baskets” on the bungalow’s flat roof were used instead of actual bedrooms (Wilson, p. 124). Simultaneously, even though this relationship with nature is a recurring motif in Schindler’s architectural approach, it is especially highlighted in the Kings Road House: By replacing one of each of the studios walls with translucent sliding doors, made of glass and redwood-frames, the strict partition of interior and exterior was abolished (ibid.). Combining privacy and openness at once, the sliding doors not only optically resemble Japanese Shoji Screens, but also funcitoning sliding doors.

Regarding the dwelling’s construction, Schindler – with economic intensions – turned towards concrete as a well-priced material. By pouring the concrete into a mould, Schindler and Chase received even slabs to serve as walls, which easily were tilt up by the two men. For additional cost-reduction, the slabs narrow in direction of the ceiling. To separate the concrete panels, strips of transparent and translucent glass were inserted (K. Smith, p. 32).

Due to the mix of mostly untreated materials and the abandonment of traditional room configuration, the Kings Road House “looked completely different from any other house in the neighbourhood” (K. Smith, p. 7). Consequently after the Chases left, various kinds of people – mostly avant-gardists and people with influence – were interested in living with Schindler in his bungalow (i.e. Sweeny, p. 109).

When looking at images of the Kings Road House the first thought that comes to mind is how soothing it appears to be. Probably because of its fluent transition of interior and exterior, the house can easily be imagined as a place of harmony and serenity. Additionally the houses reduced furnishing may seem appealing to some and even though the concrete walls and floor in combination with the emptiness may appear cold to some people, it actually appears to be very warm and welcoming to me. With these underlying sentiments in mind, my expectations on visiting the Schindler House are accordingly high. As it is one of my favourites I’m eager to see if the reality lives up to the expectations generated by the consumption of media. Particularly the emotional effects (harmony, serenity, calmness, etc.) created through the photographs are interesting to examine – is it actually the houses energy or simply great photography skills? Generally, like with most three dimensional objects, real life experience is expected to vary from small to great extents from perception through photographs, but with Kings Road House especially, I’m hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.




Smith, Elizabeth A. T.: R.M. Schindler. Eine Architektur der Fantasie und Intuition, in: Elizabeth A. T. Smith und Michael Darling (Hgg.): R.M. Schindler. Architektur und Experiment. Ostfildern-Ruit 2001, S. 12 – 85

Smith, Kathryn: Schindler House. Santa Monica, 2010

Sweeny, Robert: Realität in der Kings Road. 1920 – 1940, in: Elizabeth A. T. Smith und Michael Darling (Hgg.): R.M. Schindler. Architektur und Experiment. Ostfildern-Ruit 2001, S. 86 – 115

Wilson, Richard Guy: Die Metaphysik von Rudolph Schindler. Raum, Maschine und Moderne, in: Elizabeth A. T. Smith und Michael Darling (Hgg.): R.M. Schindler. Architektur und Experiment. Ostfildern-Ruit 2001, S. 116 – 143


– M. E. N.