With it’s an octagonal design that’s part Jetsons, part Bond, John Lautner’s Chemosphere House is considered a masterpiece of California Modernism. Perched on concrete poles, the home is reached via an inclined cable railway. The landmark Chemosphere home in the Hollywood Hills and its owner, publisher Benedikt Taschen, were profiled in a 2005 Home cover story. “What was great about Lautner is that he had this dualism about nature and the city,” Taschen said at the time, noting that one side of the house was “pure nature,” with skunks, bobcats, coyotes and deer, while the other side was “pure city,” the vast San Fernando Valley.
The career of the maverick architect John Lautner (1911-1994) spanned more than six decades, yet he is little known outside the architecture world, even though his buildings have starred in movies like “Diamonds are Forever” and “Charlie’s Angels.” Man’s relationship to nature and the universe intrigued Lautner and informed his designs, from coffee shops to plans for endless cities. Unfolding from the hills, nestled in canyons, or hovering above city skylines, Lautner’s residential projects have had influence on some of today’s most important architects — Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas, among them.
Chemosphere House, 1960, Los Angeles, USA, by John Lautner
Long overshadowed by modernist contemporaries Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra, John Lautner and the homes he built in Southern California are set to receive unprecedented attention thanks to the publication of a book published by Rizzoli. The book details Lautner’s inspirations, philosophies and legacy, not the least of which is the Chemosphere, originally derided by some critics as a silly fantasy.
Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner, Edited by historian Nicholas Olsberg
Buy it here: Amazon