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Case Study House n°20′, by C.Buff, C.Straub, D.Hensman

Constructive options:

  • In this villa, architects use a wooden structure. They still retain the idea common to all of the Case Study Houses of this period is the use of factory-prefabricated elements.
  • The basic structural element of this home consists of scales-beams (box-beam …) against light in plywood. These beams are covered with waterproof panels made themselves to base plates against plywood. They also use to cover the common areas of curved panels. These panels are entirely prefabricated in the factory … The architects will speak about the use of these vaults “They are an important visual aspect, but the beauty of the spaces does not depend upon them. They add the richness of curved space, and the sensuous satisfaction of curved volumes, but what was more pleasing were the vistas from every point. As in the piazza system of European cityspaces, you move around a bend and the spaces are revealed. You wander rough space. “
  • The panels and vaults were taken and assembled on site. Assembling the set of “panels-vaults” of the central area of the home require half past one …
  • This unconventional and light build, has made it difficult to obtain various permits required for construction. The services are very skeptical about the viability of the project and require prototypes testing …
  • These reasons and others related to the scale have not really helped to make substantial savings compared to traditional construction, although the villa was partially industrialized … This is generally the case in all experimental approaches.
  • Another point that is worth noting is that the construction of the villa required no hoist, crane etc …
  • “The character of the space was very precise, and there no overhangs. Overhangs were omitted because of the numerous trees on the property and adjoining lots, while the preciseness is a consequence of the engineered house ”. (Straub)

Figure 1:

  • The plan is organized around common rooms: living room, kitchen, dining room formal and informal.
  • A first extension includes the children’s bedrooms, a second one of the parents. Finally, a third more isolated extension includes a desk. – All the main rooms open onto courses or outdoor terraces.
  • The space of this villa consists of parallel strips highlight continuities. In the center, a life strip is surrounded by either side of two strips of circulations. Other areas are distributed sequentially around these two bands.
  • The structure is composed of a spaced scales beams frame eight feet. It is organized perpendicular to the horizontal distribution of the house as described above. The structure is in pre-existing building. It exists all over the square, or is part of the villa. She has slipped between the many large trees that make up the field. The perimeter fence, opacities and then coming translucencies Sign on freely in this frame …
  • The house is limited on three sides: north, south and east by large continuous opacities. (In fact, it is completely opaque the north and east with some south side openings). It is completely focused on protected areas: the patio and garden.
  • The architects have treated this villa in this way, thinking that sooner or later the adjacent land would be occupied by other villas. It is therefore to treat a common ownership “in advance” …
  • The location of the poles is determined by the meeting of the first frame (East-West), which is the frame with the second operation (North-South), which is the structural frame.
  • The game of opacity, transparency, translucency next, freed from all functional or structural constraints, define spaces, trapping voids or leaving free outdoor spaces.

Figure 2:

  • Figure 2 shows the east-west spatial sequence of the plant life band. When the cross in its length is known a very varied course.
  • The rear garden of the house, which separates it from the street is happening in overcast but outdoor space that allows to park cars.
  • Then crosses an opaque screen, while passing a covered non-enclosed space (porch) with an open area closed (the patio). This situation is recurrent in the Case Study Houses: the symbolic and spatial entrance of the house actually corresponds to an output to an outside area. This will toggle a covered area and not closed to an open area and closed, closed to the inside of the house. The physical and symbolic entries are separated.
  • Continuing our journey, we finally entered the house physically by dragging a covered and enclosed space. This space symmetrical but covered patio is in continuity. It corresponds to the dining room. This space is separated from the next by a fabric filter, translucent. So there has two separate areas but the translucency of the filter introduce some porosity.
  • Continuously our journey by another covered area and closed but resolutely open to the outside, the abode.
  • Finally, in a last time one enters a covered outdoor area: terrace; then discovered the garden.

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Case Study House n°22, by P.Koenig

Koenig designed for the Case Study Program two villas. It designed in 1959, takes advantage of the remarkably specific site that was imposed. The land is 150 feet by 86 feet, it is situated on the edge of a cliff overlooking the city of Los Angeles.

Constructive options…

  • Standard parts used by Koenig to build his house are the same as those used for the construction of commercial architecture. The idea of Koenig divert metal elements to build a house is that steel producers refused at first to adapt their range to the domestic construction. This is explained by the fact that the volume of sales they could achieve for the architecture of the houses seemed too small …
  • Only two metal beam sizes are used for home, I-beams 12 inches (about 30 cm), and H columns of 4 inches (about 10 cm).
  • This structure is disposed on a structural frame of 20 feet (6 m). – The roof is composed of T 5 inches which allows it to withstand 20-foot beam and between the false doors 7 feet.
  • Koenig :“ I have allways dreamed of using stainless steel, but it was prohibitive in price. The new steel will be truly stainless, there are no open pores on the surface. To patch a nail hole you simply apply vinyl paint of the same color ”.

Figure 1 :

  • The project consists of a grid of 10 x 10 feet.
  • The entire project is in a square of side 80 feet (about 24.5 meters).
  • The villa take the shape of an L occupying the northern and eastern sides of the square …
  • The house has a uniform thickness of 20 feet corresponding to the structural frame of the building and regular.
  • The partition functions and spaces is particularly clear: in the north wing are the individual spaces, rooms. In the east wing, public areas …
  • The house backs onto an opaque barrier. This continuous opacity and unique barrier insulates the house from the street.
  • This barrier actually forms the boundary between inside and outside the home. Thus, it returns some areas to the outside as the porch. Therefore, the real entry into the house is paradoxically when leaving the covered area of the “car-port”, we cross the wall to be on the terrace by the pool.
  • The living areas are common, are treated in complete continuity. Terraces, Living room, dining area … This continuity is designated in the figure by the shaded area points …
  • The spaces of closed life gathered in the east of this area. The boundary between inside and outside is as unobtrusive as possible. Completely transparent, with no opacity, it is treated by very large windows. The pace of these berries is completely based on that structure.
  • The few islands in the middle of the continuity of the zone are functional elements that cloud the living spaces. These are the kitchen cabinets, the fireplace … They are treated so that it does not impede absolutely felt continuity of space. Indeed, they are treated like furniture. They adopt a floating position in space, they are not related to any of its limits both vertical and horizontal. They thus come fully secondarily occupy space … (See photos below)

Figure 2 :

  • This scheme allows to understand the peculiar way in which Koenig discusses the living spaces in this Case Study House.
  • Basically the opacity of the wing, the rooms occupied by enabling lean back home and to separate it from the street.
  • Seen here in the foreground, the continuity of the common areas, rhythmic very broadly by the metal structure.
  • Only a few floating elements are opaque in places space …
  • This continuity is enhanced by the very high presence of the roof and the soil composition.
  • Roofing: it is completely overwhelming. By cantilever effects, it stretches completely the space. She totally blurs the boundary between reading the exterior and interior spaces.
  • Sol: the villa is situated on the edge of a cliff. The floor of the house comes in places slightly elevated above the slope and back to other places …
  • This soil decomposition is underlined by the presence and treatment of the pool.
  • This game between the floor and roof finishes to give the space character “suspended”. The only border that seems clear is that which separates the villa from the street. Any other limits whether vertical or horizontal fragment seem to completely disappear completely. Thus the interior of the villa seems to fly completely between heaven and earth.

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The experimental Villas of the Case Study House Program

The “Case Study Houses Program” was launched in 1945 by a young editor John Entenza California through his journal “Arts & Architecture”. Under the program, the magazine uses different architects to consider a draft house. The project is built and furnished. It is then brought to the attention of all: first published in the pages of “Arts and Architecture“, the villas are then open to the public for a certain period and finally sold.

This initiative has several goals designated by Entenza. It is first of all to promote to the public a new way of conceiving the domestic architecture. It also seeks to provoke the public cez a new requirement of architectural quality for their own homes.