Francisco Artigas was a man of order. The many modernist houses he designed in the 1950s and ’60s were as strict and exacting as his wardrobe, as tidy as his soap dish. The majority of these were in Mexico City, at the Gardens of El Pedregal subdivision developed after World War II by Mexico’s most acclaimed architect, Luis Barragán. 3 Artigas reportedly designed and built more than fifty houses there, making him the Pedregal’s most prolific architect by far. 4 (By contrast, Barragán produced no more than a half dozen buildings for the Pedregal, and only one of these, the Prieto López House, remains intact.) The houses Artigas built were occupied by top professionals, business leaders, powerful political families, film stars, and other native and foreign elites. They were featured in popular Mexican movies of the era and reproduced in newspapers and magazines around the country and beyond. 5 These cool, crystalline pavilions represent the glamour, optimism, and excess of their time and place much as the Beaux-Arts mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, or the modernist villas of Palm Springs, California, embody theirs. Their architect, however, though admired by well-informed mid-century modern enthusiasts, remains essentially unknown to a larger public. He is well worth a look.
A promotional movie has been released to entice potential buyers for a massive ranch in New Mexico that features buildings by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
Read more: Tom Ford’s New Mexico Ranch
Located in Rancho Palos Verdes, an affluent suburb of Los Angeles known for it’s expansive views of the pacific ocean, the Henbest House is a rejuvenation of a California classic. The existing structure was built in 1966 and originally designed by the iconic mid-century modern Architect Pierre Koenig, who is most notable for his case study houses.
The new design upgrades the building envelope, MEPs, updates finishes and gently renovates and expands the floor plan to accommodate the current owners program, while paying special attention to respect the homes architectural roots.
Originally one arrived at the interior of the house via an exterior walkway which circumnavigated a courtyard. The entry path was flanked on either side by a 10′ tall wall, physically separating it from the courtyard. The new design removes this separation and incorporates the courtyard into the entry sequence. A dilapidated perimeter wall is repaired and surfaced with ipe wood siding which meets the areas current fire code. A new board formed concrete wall is offset from the ipe wall, creating a layered opening into the courtyard. A new swimming pool which was inspired by Koenig’s original site plan, but never realized replaces a koi pond and pergola that were added later and not part of Pierre’s design. The swimming pool overflows into a shallow reflecting pool which serves as a moat for the entry path that leads to the interior.
Walls are removed to provide greater views throughout the house towards the Pacific Ocean. A compartmentalized kitchen and service core are gutted to create an open kitchen / dining / living space. The master suite is expanded, replacing a small enclosed patio for livable square footage. A new guest wing is added, connecting the once detached garage to the main house. All of the fenestration is upgraded to meet current standards including new, fully retractable multi-panel sliding glass walls. When completely open the house becomes a pavilion, truly blurring the indoor / outdoor boundary that exemplifies California modern.
Henbest House, by ras-a, inc.
Photography by Chang Kyun Kim
Australian photographer Tom Blachford presents the latest instalment of his series of modernist architecture photography Midnight Modern, a body of work that captures iconic Palm Springs mid-century residences in the chilling light of a full moon.
Midnight Modern, Palm Springs, USA, Photography by Tom Blachford
The Barcelona show is something of an intervention, with a diagonal walkway slashing across the famously rectangular floor plan to set up a dialogue with the solitary existing sculpture in the Pavilion, Georg Kolbe’s ‘Alba (Dawn)’, which stands on a small plinth in the smaller of the building’s two reflecting pools. Veilhan has reinterpreted Kolbe’s figure in four figures of descending scale, using different materials in a homage to Mies’ simple, rich palette of glass, steel and marble. The pools have been partly built over, offering visitors new perspectives on spaces made iconic through photography, reproduction and imitation.
‘My curatorial role was focused on researching together with Xavier Veilhan about the history of the pavilion, the characters and conditions that defined its design and how we could connect with that through our project,’ Gonzalo Herrero Delicado explains. ‘It was also important for the Barcelona installation to create a conversation with the rest of the exhibitions.’ The architect oversaw all aspects of the project, from liaising with the MvdR Foundation to secure permissions to finding the local architects, MAIO, to build the final design.
Xavier Veilhan. Architectones, at The Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Barcelona Spain
Photography by Florian Kleinefenn
This 1960’s Hugh Kaptur ranch house was in quite a state of disrepair when it was purchased as a foreclosure. It had been “remuddled” several times, featuring electrical wiring run on the outside of walls, awkward closets added in every room, and poor design choices highlighted throughout. It was stripped of all finishes and some minor layout work was implemented. It was restored to its mid-century glory with modern, but period-appropriate, finishes and materials. Furnishings are a mix of vintage and new, mostly sourced from eBay and local Palm Springs vintage boutiques. It’s intended use as a vacation home provided some extra latitude for whimsy and use of color. The original architect came to view the home at the end of the project and was highly complimentary.
Richard Pare’s fascination with modernist architecture shines through his vast collection of images taken over several decades. Living Laboratory will illustrate how he photographs buildings, taking care to reveal both their many subtleties and magnificent monumentality. Pare’s perceptive point of view brings into play dramatic use of light, (always achieved with no supplemental lighting) as well as varied weather conditions and seasons.
To achieve his images he deploys a wide range of technical approaches, combining conventional film and a view camera with the latest advances in digital image making. These state-of-the-art aspects of his work serve to highlight the majesty of his subjects without in any way overwhelming the purposes of the undertaking. He is also attentive to the effects of the passage of time and changing social conditions on the works he chooses to portray. The absence of human beings, coupled with signs of wear and decay, including creeping vegetation and the lingering evidence of past eras, emphasise the impermanence of seemingly solid structures and their struggle for survival.
While Pare’s work covers many subjects, Living Laboratory reveals his admiration for Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov, two of the finest and earliest proponents of modernist principles in architecture.
Living Laboratory: Richard Pare on Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov, March 21 – May 11, 2014, PM Gallery & House, London, United Kingdom
Photography by Richard Pare
Italian architect and illustrator Federico Babina has recently unveiled a new project, this time taking a look at the connection between architecture and the visual arts. Titled ‘Archist’, the project comprises a series of illustrations of imaginary buildings inspired by famous works of art. Beginning with the question: what would a house designed by Dalí or a museum by Miró look like, the resulting images demonstrate what Federico Babina believes is the ”implicit partnership between Architecture and Art.” They sometimes treat the facade as a canvas decorated with a well-known piece of art, while in other cases, they draw inspiration from the artist’s overall output to create an inventive architectural composition. Quite interestingly, and probably unbeknownst to the artist himself, the project also shows how the visual arts world is just as male-dominated as the world of architecture, as only two women (Jeanne-Claude – Christo’s partner – and Anne Truitt) made it onto Babina’s list of 27 ”most popular artists.”
List of artists: Keith Haring, Sol LeWitt, Anish Kapoor, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Joan Miró, Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Piet Mondrian, Ernesto Neto, Ellsworth Kelly, Josef Albers, Antoni Tàpies, James Turell, Frank Stella, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Anne Truitt, Lucio Fontana, Tony Smith, Peter Halley, Kazimir Málevich.
Over the course of… four years, George Nelson, along with his associate Gordon Chadwick, would execute a highly personalized design-a home tailored to the members and lifestyle of the Kirkpatrick family. This itself is not remarkable-it could be said of any architectural commission. What makes the Kirkpatrick House so special-then and now-are the universal qualities that transcend the specifics.
The best Nelson designs, be it a clock, chair, or in this case, home, share that same elusive trait. His view of design allowed for both modular system and mannerist quirk. As an “architect in industry” (as he categorized himself in the introduction to the 1948 Herman Miller Collection catalogue), Nelson was responsible for creating-and making salable-consumer goods. In the Kirkpatrick House, it becomes clear that this mentality affected his practice of architecture in equal measure. A product had to be unique to stand out in the market, but it also had to appeal to a wide array of people to be successful. Even in the execution of this private home for personal friends, Nelson’s brand of modernism embraces this duality fully.
Kirkpatrick House, Kalamazoo, Michigan, by George Nelson, Gordon Chadwick
via: Herman Miller
Dutch designer Richard Hutten has been invited to guest curate the interior of the Sonneveld House by altering the original layout with his own product designs.
The Sonneveld House Museum stands adjacent to the NAI on the corner of Jongkindstraat and Rochussenstraat in Rotterdam. Built in the early nineteen thirties, it is one of the best-preserved houses in the Nieuwe Bouwen style, the Dutch branch of the International School of Modernism. It was designed by the architecture firm of Brinkman & Van der Vlugt, also known for the Van Nelle Factory and Feyenoord Stadium. The Sonneveld House opened to the public as a house museum of the NAI in March 2001, following a period of intensive restoration and refurbishment. As a visitor, you can see for yourself what it was like to live in a hypermodern home in 1933.