When the Hagerty House was built in 1938 along the rocky coastline of Cohasset, Massachusetts, the stodgy Yankee neighbors were appalled. The minimalist International Style structure may have sat in sharp contrast to the area’s traditional shingle, Federalist, and Greek Revival architecture, but it helped blaze a trail for the modern century to come. The story of the home begins in 1937, when Walter Gropius, the pioneering founder of Germany’s Bauhaus and a recent émigré to the United States, accepted a teaching position at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. After coming under increasing attack from the Nazi regime for his non-conformist, left-leaning ideas and spending almost three years in England with the modernist Isokon group, Gropius, with his wife, Ise, relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Harvard, Gropius would exert a profound influence over the minds of a generation of architects whose work would shape America’s built environment for decades to come.
Hagerty House, by Walter Gropius, via: dwell
The defining elements are the rock and the view. They dominate at every juncture. They resonate on first approach, through the migration from public to private space, in the living and in the family areas, in the gardens, in the bedrooms; and they continue to command respect down the tropical jungle steps that arrive at a secluded rock platform, flanked by the same seam that welcomed you 60m above. Constant reference to these elements instills a feeling of solidity that contrasts with the openness of the house, reinforcing the dynamism and vibrancy that pays homage to the magic of the location.
The home grows out from the rock; the bedroom element rests between it and the wing that strikes the perpendicular, rising vertically from the slope. This composition defines the open living and dining space that is simply a transition between two garden areas. It is intimate but open and the uninterrupted clear span creates a bridge under which the conventions defining indoor space disappear.
The Modernist summer house has a distinguished pedigree all its own. With its masonry construction, angled roofs, and organic cluster of one-room pavilions, architect Carlos Ferrater’s weekend house for a couple in Alcanar adheres partly to a tradition dating back to the first beach houses of José Luis Sert in the 1930s, and renewed by José Antonio Coderch in the 1950s and ’60s. Sert, in such works as his 1935 weekend houses in Garraf, explored a rugged Mediterranean alternative to the machine aesthetic of Northern European Modernists. Coderch reinvestigated the trend with his 1952 Ugalde House, where he used vernacular construction methods to create a fusion between the wild coastal landscape and his abstract, fluid forms.
Ferrater likes to say that the house is a kind of portrait of his client and his lifestyle. But like the vernacular techniques he uses, these concerns are also the raw material for the more personal creative project of his design, which comes to focus around the sophisticated formal play between the pavilions. Architecture is born from its circumstances, as he observes, but it can also dignify and transcend them.
The house is laid out across two plateaux. From the upper plateau, which was previously the site of a riding school, we can see that the countryside stretches right to the village. Three separate buildings are located on the upper plateau which contains the garage and bedrooms. The buildings are all accessible via a dual walkway along which screen walls are dotted which frame the views from the property and provide privacy for the respective patios. There is a forest on the other side. The rooms used for living purposes are located in an extremely large building, the height of which increases as the land descends towards the lower plateau. A vast bay window to the left reveals the surrounding landscape whilst the surface of the water located to the right on a lower level reflects the sky and the forest. The living room also has a stone terrace which goes as far as the swimming pool. From there, the view overlooks the countryside and the sea and the horizon beyond.
Can 9, Spain, by Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners
Photography by Jean-Luc Laloux
This house is limited to a single level, it is weightless on the water area that separates it from the entrance avenue. To the left, the entrance shows its gallery wall. Descend a level, the construction frames the view over the fields, the countryside is yours. To the left, behind you, a series of levels interrupted by stairs that stretch outside bring the profile of the site together. To the right, beyond the overhanging part that covers the dining room, the kitchen benefits from a lateral patio that bathes in the morning sun. Go down further, the garden continues right up to the old trees in front of a swimming pool that is so long that it takes the liberty to fold back into the building through the fault-line freed up under the built-up framework.
Genets 3, Belgium, by Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners
Todd Goddard and Andrew Mandolene have completed a restoration of the near-derelict 1957 home of architect Arthur Witthoefft. A few years ago, they were living in California modernist E. Stewart Williams’s 1957 Kenaston House, in Rancho Mirage, when they decided to move. They loved the West, but they loved mid-century architecture even more–and were prepared to relocate for it. Finding a house in the Los Angeles area equal to the Kenaston, a minor gem they’d impeccably restored, at an affordable price proved difficult. “So we decided to see what else was out there,” says Mandolene. “If there was something special, we would go for it.”
Arthur Witthoefft was an architect in the Manhattan office of corporate modernists Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and his design was a lapidary example of Miesian simplicity: a 25-by-95-foot rectangle, composed of a black exposed-steel frame, front and northern elevations clad largely in white glazed brick, and southern and western exposures enclosed by floor-to-ceiling glass sliders.
Goddard Mandolene Residence, Armonk, New York, by Arthur Witthoeff, via: dwell
“…a personal and updated version of a private dwelling in the spirit of the modern era and in an international style. The final result of the architectural design and the new interior design is a reserved and cultured private home with human proportions and spaces that together form a strong and clear form, free of unnecessary decorations and designer “chit-chat” with a clean and moderate form and ideas, that reflect the architectural and social principals that are so difficult to find in today’s modern world.”
BAK Architects have completed the JD House, located in the forest of Mar Azul, in the Argentinian province of Buenos Aires.
Madrid-born artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s latest work, Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With, realizes one of Mies van der Rohe’s unbuilt projects–albeit upside-down. The installation is an inverted, replica of Mies’ 50×50 House project from 1951. The small, house is completely enclosed in glass, with black leather Barcelona chairs, glass-topped tables, and a wood partition, containing a kitchen with a small range, countertop and a French Press with a teaspoon.
Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With, by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle
The house was built as a vacation home for a family living abroad. It is situated directly on the coast in the center of the country. The buildings architectural design is based on three central masses that surround a large internal courtyard with a swimming pool at its center. The masses comprise the border and the barrier between the street, the neighbors and the home’s interior and between the internal courtyard and those same spaces. The central theme was to create dynamic walls that allow, on the one hand, the elimination of the boundary between the central courtyard and the internal spaces, and on the other hand, the creation of a changing and dynamic facade that allows for the total closure of the façade or different levels of exposure or concealment.
The side the sea to the west, allows for a richer relationship between the exposed and the concealed. A partition created from six equal metal sections and adjustable wooden slats allows for the total closure of the façade or different levels of blurring between the inside and the outside. The dynamism of the large accordion doors and the adjustable wooden slats allows natural light that enters through them, to play a central role in the homes internal spaces and for the creation of geometrical displays of light against the vertical and horizontal areas and so enrich the material restraint in which the homes spaces are fashioned.