The Schindler House
Each house needs to be composed as a symphony, with variations on a few
R. M. Schindler, 1926
The Schindler studio-residence was built between February and June 1922 on
Kings Road in Hollywood, California. The houses design addressed and even
resolved architectural problems involved with new methods of construction, a
low budget, organization of living space, aesthetics, and a new life
philosophy in a revolutionary manner. In many respects, the Schindler house
marks the beginning of modern architecture in California.
The house was built according to the life philosophy of Pauline
Schindler and a rather optimistic appreciation of the usually mild Southern
Few materials were used: concrete, wood, glass, and canvas. It was
important to Schindler to integrate the natural properties of the materials
into the design of the building. Architectural functions remained visible,
and the natural color and texture of the materials were not covered by
layers of paint.
The house was designed for 3 households consisting of
2 couples and one bachelor without children. The floor plan consists of
three L shapes spinning out from a central fireplace.
The building sits directly on a concrete slab which serves as foundation
and floor, avoiding the expense of excavation. Concrete was poured into
wooden molds to form panels that were then tilted up to form
walls. Three inch (7.5 cm) glass strips separate the
panels. A wooden frame solidified the structure.
Each adult disposed of a private studio for work and play. Each studio
is enclosed on 3 sides by concrete walls with one open side facing a patio
serving as a living and dining room. The garden opening is controled by
three translucent sliding canvas panels. The floor level is the same as
that of the patio minimizing the transition from indoors to outdoors. The
ceilings are of wood with skylights between different ceiling levels.
Roofed sleeping baskets were the only living quarters above ground level.
In the hopes that shared cooking duties would reduce their drudgery,
a common kitchen was shared by the occupants.
The buildings plans extend outside the enclosed structure to the property
boundaries. Living areas are delimited by hedges and differing garden
levels which are no less complexly conceived and structured than the
Schindler's own description of the house:
Each room in the house represents a variation on the constructive architectural
theme. This theme corresponds to the principle requirements for protecting a
tent: a protected back, an open front, an open fireplace and a roof. Each
room has a concrete wall at the rear and a large front opening onto the
garden with sliding doors. The shape of the rooms and their relationship to
the patios and various roof levels creates a totally new spatial concept
between the interior and the garden.