Widely recognized for their Ettore Sottsass-designed Valentine typewriter, one of Olivetti’s less celebrated design accomplishments is the company’s Venice showroom and store. Architect Carlo Scarpa spent two years conceiving the space with a focus on transparencies and materials after commissioned by Adriano Olivetti in the late ’50s, leading to what became one of the most significant architectural achievements of the 20th century.
Located on Venice’s famed Piazza San Marco, 14 years ago the Olivetti store was turned into a novelty shop. Last year the space’s owner, Assicurazioni Generali, began working with the Venice Heritage office to painstakingly refurbish the shop to its original appearance, reinstating authentic materials, forms and color schemes. They also turned to the glorious Italian cultural institution, FAI to protect and manage the building, which is filled with a unique collection of typewriters and calculators donated by Olivetti that’s now open to the public for regular visits along with the rest of the space.
One focal point of the renovated store is Alberto Viani’s “Nudo al Sole”–a sculpture that the architect put above a black Belgian marble plinth covered by water. To achieve the right amount of light, Scarpa increased the number of windows, illuminating the irregularly-shaped mosaic glass floor which changes color in each area. The main entrance is red, the central section almost white, the side entrance blue and the rear yellow.
Olivetti Showroom and Store, Venice, by Carlo Scarpa, via: Cool Hunting
This house was the location of the Hollywood movie: Laurel Canyon. After the film, the director decided to have the original Neutra House, built in 1934 for the Sten-Frenke family, reconstructed and redecorated. The architects Marmol-Razinger were responsible for the renovations. James Biber of Pentagram took care of the interiors. The result is a grand combination of a historical building with a contemporary interpretation of a fifties interior.
Sten-Frenke House, Santa Monica, California, by Richard Neutra, via: OWI
Originally designed for Sir Basil Goulding, a great gardener and art collector; He was so concerned about his beautiful gardens along the Dargle Valley that he wanted the new building to take up as little of the garden as possible. The resulting design cantilevered over the river, and is supported on the only rock outcrop available without disturbing the natural vegetation of the river gorge. Diagonal bracing effectively converts the side elevations into beam structures, and a steel column support at the second bay from the rock face below together with rock anchors make possible the three-bay cantilever over the river.
The summerhouse was listed for preservation in 2000 and we were subsequently commissioned to restore it. Internationally, it is considered a modernist icon and continues to inspire with its recent inclusion in The Iconic House by Thames & Hudson.
Goulding Summerhouse, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, by Scott Tallon Walker Architects
The Space Needle was designed for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair Exhibition. Set on the only section of the fair grounds that was not owned by the city, the site did not have the height restrictions of other exhibits/pavillions at the fair. The lot, 37-by-37 m, was purchased by private investors for $75,000 and is still privately owned. Standing 605 feet (184 meters) in the air on massive steel beams that form its slender legs, the Space Needle has since become the internationally recognized symbol of Seattle. The Space Needle was completed in December 1961, and officially opened four months later on the first day of the World’s Fair, April 21, 1962. Although there is much contention surrounding who came up with the final design of the Space Needle, John Graham is widely acknowledged as its architect. Edward Carlson and Victor Steinbrueck are also credited with having come up with elements of the design.
Space Needle at 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, by John Graham, Edward Carlson, Victor Steinbrueck, via: University of Washington Library
Anna Sten, the Ukrainian film actress, and her film producer husband Dr. Eugene Frenke, came to Hollywood under the aegis of Samuel Goldwyn. Goldwyn thought he had found his “Russian Garbo,” but had failed to reconcile that hope with Sten’s inability to speak English in the age of talking pictures. Just after their arrival, the couple hired fellow émigré Richard Neutra to design a house for them in the hills of Santa Monica.
The house Neutra built for Sten and Frenke was a simple European style modern house washed a light grey cement color. Sited on a double lot, it occupied only one, and was surrounded by a wall of rough cast “California” blocks. Although the house looks like modern concrete houses in France and Germany, it is remarkable for the amount of continuous glass ribbon it supports on its wooden “balloon frame” construction.
In 2005 the Sten-Frenke House was photographed by legendary photographer Julius Shulman. Although Shulman’s career began the same year the house was completed, in 1934, he didn’t photograph it until the 2005 restoration was finished. Post-restoration, the house had never looked better and with all the passion of a man half his 95 years, Shulman spent two remarkable days scouring the site for photographs. His images will forever define the house.
Sten-Frenke House, Santa Monica, California, by Richard Neutra, Pentagram Architects
AD has unearthed some rare photos of the Miller House by designed by Eero Saarinen. Completed in 1957 for industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller and his family in Columbus, Indiana, the Miller House and Garden embodies midcentury Modernism in it’s fullest. Architect Eero Saarinen‘s steel and glass composition has held together very well, proving the quality and use of materials to be worthy of time. Not the first building designed for these clients by Saarinen, the initial intention of Miller and his wife was to create a year-round dwelling that could be used to entertain business guests from around the world, also doubling as a good environment to raise their children. As head of Cummins Engine, was to create civic and institutional buildings in their town located 45 miles from Indianapolis, hoping to transform and reinvent into a hub of inventive design. Eero Saarinen worked with interior designer Alexander Girard and landscaper Daniel Kiley to best fulfill the ideas he had in mind for the house and garden.
An architectural tradition developed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, this house encompasses some of the most fundamental aspects of the international Modernist aesthetic, including an open and flowing layout, flat roof and vast stone and glass walls. Saarinen also included ideas of the main walls of public areas extending from floor to ceiling and cut out of marble several inches thick. The exposed edges eliminate a sense of separation between interior and nature through use of huge panes of glass.
Miller House, 1957, by Eero Saarinen,
Photography © Indianapolis Museum of Art, Garden Visit, via: arch daily
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 design of the Hotel and Restaurant Astoria in Trondheim included the entry area with the cloakroom, the day restaurant with the wintergarten, an evening restaurant with dance floor as well as a self-service restaurant. Verner Panton used the textile design Geometry I to IV for floors, walls and ceilings in order to give the room a uniform image. The chairs are various versions of the Panton Cone Chair and the Heart Cone Chair. The chairs grouped around the tables and the Topan lights work together to divide the large room into individual seating areas with an intimate note.
A 17-minute film by Marcel Meili and Christoph Schaub unviels the story of ‘Il Girasole’ the rotating modernist house built into the Po Valley hillside in northern Italy. Affectionately termed ‘The Sunflower’, the house was built in the 1930s by architects Angelo Invernizzi and Ettore Fagiuoli, with the help of their artist, sculptor, furniture-maker and architect friends. Powered by an electric motor, Il Girasole is able to rotate a full 360 degrees on its circular base, highly radical in the way that all the components of the house (including its courtyard) are part of the structure’s rotational sphere. The film is simple and direct, juxtaposing the unveiling of the imposing house’s engineering detail and history with intimate re-enactments of the architect and his wife interacting with the space, narrated throughout by the architect’s daughter.
Il Girasole House, by Angelo Invernizzi and Ettore Fagiuoli, via: Wallpaper
Legendary Brazilian modernist Oscar Niemeyer, architect of the capital city Brasília, has built only one residential structure in the United States, where he was long banned because of his leftist political associations. Despite his global fame, the Santa Monica house he designed in 1963 was hardly known even to Southern California’s Nikon-strapped aficionados of midcentury modernism.
Now owned by Michael and Gabrielle Boyd, the Strick House (built for film director Joseph Strick and his wife) is T-shaped in plan. The one-story dwelling is capped by a flat roof and is sheathed in glass, brick, and stucco. One of the most prominent features is the row of tall, narrow exposed rafters that cover the entire roof in a serrated pattern and project beyond the overhangs of the front and rear of the home.
Strick House, Santa Monica, California, USA, by Oscar Niemeyer
via: Architectural Digest