The Case Study Houses
06/25/2011 § Leave a Comment
In post-war Southern California the residential housing boom inspired a group of prominent architects sponsored by Arts and Architecture Magazine to tackle what they saw as the current issues in the typical American home. Each architect was to deal with one of these problems and resolve it in the best way they saw fit using materials and methods that would be readily available and easily duplicated. The program that was to be known as the Case Study Houses ran from 1945 up until 1966.
The group of architects included many of the big names of Mid-Century Modern design. These included Richard Neutra, Pierre Koenig, Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, Rodney Walker, and JR Davidson. Many of the Houses (such as #22 on the left) were shot for the magazine by the now infamous photographer, Julias Shulman.
The Case Study Homes changed the way Americans lived and built their homes. These West Coast models were soon transported throughout the country. The Stahl residence (#22), probably the most well-known of the Case Study homes, became an icon of American design and the new optimistic “Modern” way of life.
The homes generally sought to blur the lines between inside and outside by using innovative curtain wall building technologies that would allow for wide spans of glass. By placing load-bearing steel columns on a grid on the interior of the home, the facades would be free of structural responsibilities. The floor plan of the American home was Modernized by opening up walls and blending functions into large spaces; thus the marriage of the living, dining and kitchen to create the Great Room. The architects also extended the living space to the exterior by incorporating elements such as pools, large overhangs and paved decks that would further encourage the use of the outdoor room.