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
Located near the largest park in São Paulo, the Casa Corten site is long and narrow. The facade of the house is made of Corten weathering steel. The dialogue between the rusty texture on the outside and the stone, wood, white mortar and the glass build the space. The front door of the garage is made of vertical wooden strips and opens entirely onto the street. The main entry door to the house is also made of wood and, despite being of a color similar to metallic plates, the texture and the presence of the material itself, distinguishes the suspended steel box of the frontal façade. The back façade is composed of a glass curtain that confers transparency to the opaque steel box and a suspended volume which contains movable wooden brises. The interior walls of the lot are made of Stone.
The interior plan for the ground floor is simple: an ample room with a ceiling height of 5.2m and four folding doors that completely open out to the deck and external fireplace, dissolving the limits between interior and exterior; in the living room, a free wooden volume houses the kitchen and utilities program; between this volume and the entrance door there is a staircase that leads to the mezzanine.
The mezzanine, on the wooden volume, is a singular area for the home-theater. From here there is another staircase leading up to the third floor, to the private program of the house, the three bedrooms. The master bedroom, in the back, has a wooden panel of brises to filter the light and can remain completely open.
“The plan was to build the villa around the big fir tree as the center of the site, with a row of pine trees as the main view. Initially, we had planned to build a shell structure with three dimensionally curved surfaces, and the C shaped section was to surround the fir tree and the plan of the building resembled the letter J. The scenery conjures a SF film-like image, in which locals inhabit over an abandoned spacecraft. With time, trees start to grow encircling the spacecraft, harmonizing it into the landscape.”
“Being in sync with nature isn’t about yielding to nature – it’s about coexistence. The existence of the structure depends on its power to endure nature”.
- Kotaro Ide of ARTechnic
Holiday Villa, Karuizawa, Japan, by Designer, for ARTechnic
“I wanted to wrap one material around the entire house—as sort of an architectural lingerie,” explains Matthew Trzebiatowski, about the rusted wire mesh and corrugated steel swathing the exterior of his Xeros Residence in Phoenix, Arizona. In designing under the name the one-bedroom, 2,200-square-foot home for his wife, Lisa, and himself, Trzebiatowski, seized on a lacy, if gritty, mesh to enclose open sitting areas and screen the glazed walls…. “The impulse was primarily aesthetic,” Trzebiatowski says, noting, however, that the wire mesh both cuts the sun’s glare and affords privacy, while the corrugated steel – with insulation, affords warmth when temperatures drop.
Xeros Residence, Phoenix, Arizona, USA by Matthew Trzebiatowski, at Blank Studio.
More here: dwell
Located in the heart of the historic neighborhoods of downtown Phoenix, this residential remodel and addition demonstrated a common predicament within historic district neighborhoods, which have become ideal locations to live; however, the home sizes are not conducive to modern family requirements and amenities. The clients expressed a desire to remain in their current home but required a dramatic increase in living space. With this in mind, [merz]project developed a new 1400 square foot addition that creates a dialogue with the existing house through experiences of thresholds, courtyards, and manipulation of light. By utilizing similar structural systems and proportions, but clearly different materials, the resulting zinc-clad structure possesses a pre-patina’ that provides an aged appearance that contrasts with the older structure.
The Openhouse is embedded into a narrow and sharply sloping property in the Hollywood Hills, a challenging site that led to the creation of a house that is both integrated into the landscape and open to the city below. Retaining walls are configured to extend the first floor living level into the hillside and to create gardens on two levels. The front, side and rear elevations of the house slide open to erase all boundaries between indoors and out, connecting the spaces to gardens on both levels.
On the banks of the river Mur, on the corner of the Südtirolerplatz and the Lendkai. Graz has a new architectural landmark, an extraordinary exhibition hall designed by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier. Kunsthaus Graz, better known as the “friendly alien”, is meant to inspire its curators with an interior as a “black box of hidden tricks”, its outer skin is a media facade which can be changed electronically.
Kunsthaus Graz, by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier.
We have the perfect spot to erect this tiny house. The concept is from the Polish architectual company Front Architects. The design was inspired by highway billboards. The house is very small at only 27 square meters, but perfect for that weekend get-away.
Single Hauz Concept, by Front Architects
The Gardiner Museum is one of the world’s pre-eminent institutions devoted to ceramic art, and the only museum of its kind in Canada. It is also one of the major projects in Toronto’s cultural renaissance. The Gardiner renewal, together with the Royal Ontario Museum across the street and the Royal Conservatory of Music around the corner on Bloor Street West, will form a new cultural precinct for the city.
Framed between the neoclassical Lillian Massey building to the north and the Queen Anne-style Margaret Addison Hall to the south, the renewal creates a bolder, more welcoming urban presence for the Gardiner. Inside, the interior is completely transformed to prioritize the display of the museum’s collections and to create a memorable, inviting visitor experience.
This is a library for an art university located in the suburbs of Tokyo. Passing through the main entrance gate, the site lies behind a front garden with small and large trees, and stretches up a gentle slope.
“The characteristic arches are made out of steel plates covered with concrete. In plan these arches are arranged along curved lines which cross at several points. With these intersections, we were able to keep the arches extremely slender at the bottom and still support the heavy live loads of the floor above.”
- Toyo Ito