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
Architects Krueck & Sexton recently completed restoring one of legendary Modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s most celebrated commissions: 860-880 Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago.
860-880, which was built between 1949 and 1951, consists of two 26-story, exposed steel and glass apartment towers set at right angles on an irregular travertine plaza. Based on ideas and theories Mies had been perfecting since his earliest days as an independent architect in 1920s Berlin, the buildings redefined highrise living for the post-war generation.
Many architects and critics believe 860-880 is the closest Mies ever came to achieving his goal of less is more “skin and bones” architecture. According to the American Institute of Architects’ Guide to Chicago, “No other building(s) by Mies had as immediate or strong an impact on his American contemporaries, and the influence of these structures was to pervade much of modern architecture.”
860-880 is the third and largest Mies commission Krueck & Sexton, a firm more noted for its original work, has completed in recent years. The other two, all are in Chicago: Crown Hall on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology and the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.
860-880 Lake Shore Drive, by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe,
Restoration by Krueck & Sexton Architects
Sometimes ordinary photographs of the Farnsworth House leave you wanting more. Peter Guthrie has filled the gap, by creating a set of beautiful 3D renderings of the iconic house, originally designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for his client, Dr Edith Farnsworth in 1946.
Farnsworth House, Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe,
3D Renderings by Peter Guthrie, Flickr Set
Mirage.studio.7 has a collection of fictional architects in movies. Our favorite is Gary Cooper in The Fountainhead, an adaptation of the novel by Ayn Rand.
The Johnson house, Pierre Koenig’s only building in Northern California, was built on a 20-by-20-foot grid. Glass curtain walls open the house to the landscaping and expansive views. A see-through central fireplace forms the centerpiece of the open-plan living-dining area.
Koenig’s additions in 1988 included two new bedrooms, filling the former carport and entry, and providing a new carport in an added wing. The project also involved stripping away a dropped ceiling, wood veneer paneling that hid the steel siding, bay windows, and Victorian-style beveled-glass doors.
“It’s absolutely, completely functional and complete and honest in the delight of its revealed structure. It’s so simple and beautiful, so unadorned. It’s direct and a joy to live in,” Cynthia Riebe says of the house. “I love the night light and how it changes, and the reflections through the interior and the exterior. There’s no boundary between the two.”
The house was restored and expanded by Cynthia and Fred Riebe during the 1990s with the help of Koenig himself. Structure: Steel-framed and steel-sided. The ceilings and exterior walls are unadorned, corrugated steel decking. Laminated wallboard sheathes the interior walls.
One of two free attractions at Disneyland sponsored by Monsanto was this walk-through tour of a plastic house with plastic furnishings and fascinating modern appliances such as dishwashers, microwave, intercom system, and closets filled with polyester clothes. Designed by Marvin Goody & Richard Hamilton, the house only existed for the 10 year length of Monsanto’s lease, at which time they moved on to the Adventure Thru Inner Space attraction. Goody & Hamilton were MIT architecture faculty members sponsored by Monsanto to find new markets for their plastic products. They took 2 years to design the 1,280 sq. ft. home, at which time they formed their own private firm to take over the commercial planning of the project.
When it was dismantled, the house was so indestructible that the crew gave up and left some of the support pilings in place (they can still be seen in Neptune’s Grotto between the Tomorrowland entrance and Fantasyland). Supposedly the planned one-day demolition ended up taking two weeks as the wrecking ball just bounced off the exterior. Workers cut the house into pieces with hacksaws.
Monsanto House of the Future, 1957–1967, by Marvin Goody & Richard Hamilton, Disneyland, Anaheim, California, USA.
The Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói (MAC) is a landmark of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Oscar Niemeyer designed this museum perched on the cliff in the city of Niterói. The disk stretches out over the massive reflecting pool underneath. Similarities to a UFO is entirely intentional. The visitor approaches the disk in a snaking, red-carpet path through the air. The museum opened in 1996 after a huge scandal
Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by Oscar Niemeyer
Recognized by Frank Lloyd Wright as the earliest ‘Usonian’ house, La Miniatura is also the first residence to utilize Wright’s highly inventive textile block building system. The Millard House is internationally recognized as one of the world’s most important works of architecture. Now, following a multi-year restoration, the complex offers one of the most romantic, and creative living spaces anywhere. Sited on nearly an acre of gardens within the Prospect Historic District of Pasadena, the residence and studio include: 4 bedrooms, and 4 baths, 2 kitchens, living room, formal dining room, and semi-attached garages. The Millard House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The only house that Gordon Bunshaft designed is the Travertine House, built in 1963 for his own family. After his death, he left it to the Museum of Modern Art who sold it to Martha Stewart in 1995. Her extensive remodelling led to acrimonious disputes with neighbours so she sold it to Donald Maharam in 2005, who declared it decrepit and demolished the house.
Bunshaft was a partner in the New York office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), and his earliest work, Lever House in New York, was SOM’s breakthrough.
Travertine House, Georgica Pond, New York, by Gordon Bunshaft, (demolished)
Read more: Arch News Now