Anthology of Houses – Part III

As we discussed in part II of anthology of houses series about maturing of an earlier experimentation, in part III we shall discuss the variations of modernist manifestos , bold tectonic operatives and complex formal architectural discourses that has influenced the academics and practices around the world.

The formation of New York Five in early seventies led by Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmy, John Hejduk and Richard Meier brought about some provocative thoughts. The intent of the group was to discuss and critic the work of architecture. All of them associated with teaching and practice of architecture, especially houses. All five of them believed in rejection of representational historicist imagery and ornamentation with Spatial and geometric complexity,  transparency and ambiguity and representation  as a means for architectural interpretation. The Ney York Five was originally called as “Whites”

Michael Graves works loosely related to the New York Five in later years, but he initially engaged with quotational elements, layered façade, conceptual homage to the design program of white. The later period he moved away from purist and cubist syntax by influence of pop culture in his later practice. This house remains one of the critical works of the time. The static cubic volumes set in dynamic state by letting long bridge and stair takes you on the first floor. The cubic volume is tentative due to nature of skin and structure which are maneuvered to form a layered fenestration and spaces.

Eisenman’s work lies in syntactic model of interrelation of tectonics without external reference. It has dialectic relation between writing (transformation) and reading (implicit and explicit relation). It denies any concession of space experience in traditional sese, that is static perspective but rather clinching the thought that sway between how it is written and how it is to be read. Architectural meaning is suspended between these dialectics of thought. Eisenman work represents a radical confession of faith in an autonomous architecture, which entirely frees itself from criteria of habitability. The emergence of form is solely depending on the formal process and methodical transformation or systematic decomposition of cube. Eisenmann developed house series by numbers hence defying any associational values in its conceptualization. The architecture is de-clutched from its metaphorical association and dwelt on self -absorbed metaphor of space. The house VI is perhaps the most celebrated house among the architectural fraternity. The series of moves and transformation of cubic volume left with spaces that are incidentally called as habitable spaces with compromised functionality.

The attention of that generation of architects were attracted by the rigidly white buildings arose from a combination of mathematical play of mass and void with an artistic manipulation for aesthetics, almost like an extension to Corbusier’s villa, and programmatically remote from everyday building practice. Charles Gwathmy works dwelt on Whiteness that allows stark contrast of light & shadow, solid & void, it heighten the purity of visual form. Richard Mier’s work demonstrated the criteria of program, site and circulation within Corbusien syntax. The external references are minimal, however inner organization are complex through exaggeration of program by means of ramps, vistas, levels and connect to outside.

Anthony Ames houses are depiction of familiar object entangled in to a landscape, physically as well as culturally. His work dwells on juxtaposition, superimposition and ambiguity of scale. His work is like an artist on canvas, allowing multiple reading, fostered through compelling observation. The house is a parody of Villa Savoy,  re-contextualize and juxtaposed with newer landscape. The familiar pilotis and ribbon windows are not escapable from one’s scanning, rather it compels the viewers to imagine the house as canvas of time representation. His drawing uses Corbusier spectacles, James Stirling watch and other several objects of famous architects and brings about composition of melting identity.

The house designed by Richard Neutra, brings about compositional qualities of form that resonates the need of the client,  fostered within streamlined aesthetics. The plan of the house is enveloped by screen, terraces and larger void. The stark white composition of horizontality, stands out in wooded context of site.

This house is designed by Australian modernist “Harry Seidler”. This house daringly exploits the site with double cantilevered steel frame. The plan constitutes composition of various function imagined out of structural and formal quality of house. The program is almost becoming homogenous and singular, yet architecturally this house reinforced the modernist manifesto in newer forms of construction.

The article attempts to brings about understanding of variation in modernism in early sixties till late seventies and its impact of articulating how a house form of newer society emerged and ready for such experimentation where meanings and context are secondary to the primacy of architect’s desire. In next lecture we discuss the contextual gestures that were imagined within the modernist idiom.

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