Archives par mot-clé : Case Study Houses

Case Study House Program: References

List of books:

  • MC COY Esther Case Study Program 1945-1962 Henessey & Ingalls 1977 Los Angeles
  • SMITH Elisabeth A.T. Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses MIT Press 1998
  • STEELE James, JENKINS David, KOENIG Pierre Pierre Koenig Phaidon Press 1998
  • MC COY Esther, BLAKE Peter Craig Ellwood Architecture Hennessey & Ingalls 1997
  • ALBRECHT D. The Work of Charles & Ray Eames
  • COLOMINA Béatrice The Work of Charles and Ray Eames, A Legacy of invention 1997
  • STEELE James Eames House, Charles and Ray Eames Architecture in Detail Phaidon 1995
  • HINES Thomas S. Richard Neutra and Search for Modern Architecture University California Press 1994
  • MC LAMPRECHT Barbara Richard Neutra Complete Works Taashen 2000
  • SACK M. Richard Neutra Gustavo Gili 1994 Barcelone

List of articles:

  • Baboulet, Luc; “Le Case Study Program et la tradition américaine”; AMC (France); n°98; 05/1999;
  • ; “On the Mies Edge”; Domus (); n°614; 02/1986;
  • Goldstein B.; “The Entenza Years”; Art and Architecture (Etats-Unis); n°; 1990;
  • ; “”; Architecture d’Aujourd’hui (France); n°; 02-03/1966;

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Case Study House Program, Problems and Solutions – Relation with the site

There are three types of reports to the site and the environment developed in the Case Study Houses. These three types of reports are usually completely dissociated. Each report is a ladder to a particular set distance between the site and the villa. They are: environmental entering the house, in direct and internal relationship with the house the immediate environment and in direct connection with the outer and Villa; Finally the distant environment, landscape. Ellwood perfectly illustrates these three types of relationship to the environment in terms of its Case Study House # 16, where it designates and distinguished: the “child short,” the “living terrace” and “view terrace”.

The “inside” environment the current and patio

The Case Study Houses are systematically locate lightweight way to the site. Always posed, suspend in or slightly above the ground, their locations never require heavy excavation. This type of implantation induces a minimal impact on the ground. This is perfectly illustrated by Case Study House # 21 of Koenig, of which we see the attached structure.
This method of implantation naturally allows a multitude of games with the site. Spontaneously may emerge in the house remained untouched natural soil and rub nature in the heart of the house. It is thus are widely used in the Case Study Houses patios and outdoor-indoor spaces. The villas of the Case Study House are placed in the site but unlike the Villa of the Modern Movement is to melt it.

The close environment: the importance of the garden

The villas of the Case Study Program are implanted mostly in residential suburban neighborhoods. Therefore, they generally occupy a limited land that they can not yet handle limits. The work of the Case Study House program designers, therefore, is to limit and qualify this place generally undifferentiated and deformed that fits between the bounds and those of the house. The garden is treated either as a buffer zone from creating distance between the public space and of the house is truly as an extension of the living space. The architects of the Case Study Houses manage to qualify these spaces by a multitude of original treatments. This is, for example, treatments extensions and exterior walls. This treatment can be done in a completely innovative way: for example in the use of translucent panels or by Ellwood Killingworth.

The distant environment, the landscape:

The Case Study Houses are often in the bénéficiants sites privileged views. These sites correspond to residential areas high in the hills surrounding the major California cities. The villa # 22 of Koenig is the archetype. When they have such possibilities, the architects of Case Study Program generally treat areas of the villas so create a framing the landscape. Ie the spaces are worked to erase overshadow see the immediate environment to create a direct relationship between the interior of the villa and the landscape. This treatment creates a total floating feeling of the villa on the landscape. They create a singular continuity between these remote areas and the interior of the villa. This is particularly noticeable in the achievements of Ellwood and Koenig.

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Case Study House Program, Problems and solutions – Spaces and spatial diversity

Continuity :

Continuity is a widely used theme in the Case Study Houses. It can be of two types: continuity of living spaces and continuity between interior and exterior spaces.

Continuity of the living spaces

  • The partition between the public areas of life and individual spaces have been clearly defined, we note that in most cases public areas are treated and lived only as a single space. This uniqueness makes them user-friendly.
  • This spatial continuity does not necessarily pass through complete transparency of space but rather by treating its fluidity.
  • Paradoxically, in Cases Study Houses, the issue of the treatment of the living areas is to successfully occupy and qualify the while maintaining their full fluency.
  • In most cases, the space is occupied by objects that are generally different services or facilities: fireplace, kitchen units, storage units etc … These objects have a completely floating position in space. Sometimes suspended, they do not touch the ceiling or the limits of space. Although it irremovable, he conferred the status of their furniture. Their positions to structure informal space delimiting: circulations, living, living room etc …

Example: CSH # 22 of Koenig # 18 of Ellwood

Continuity between indoor and outdoor spaces

  • Systematically, the spaces of the villas are worked to rendering uncertain, or even erase completely disintegrate the boundary between inside and outside.
  • This continuity is obtained by different treatments. This is achieved by processing the material of course, but also by different spatial treatments.
  • Most times it is the creation of spaces to the statutes completely ambiguous and unexpected: Exterior or interior parts gardens, courtyards … These spaces usually have a spatial quality and use unusual.

Examples: HSC Soriano # 25 of Killingworth, # 21 Koenig etc …

Covered & uncoverd, closed & unclosed :

The systematic use of a frame structure allows absolute decoupling components of the different elements the villa. The roof, the fence and the structure can operate completely independently of each other. The architects of the program make use of this freedom radically new and original way. They differ on this point completely European architects of the same era that have become used to treat it differently..

A floating roof …

  • The roof is usually the first element of the Case Study Houses.
  • It exists by itself as an independent single element. If the frame system allows a system of modular panels, the roof remains monolith. It is most often the unifying element of the project.
  • While the shape of the villas can be very cut, roofing in general keeps shape and simple geometry, it is always flat. This flat slab may however breakthrough in some places, thus occasionally causing light.
  • Independence and importance are highlighted in different ways. This can be done through the use of contents. It may also underlined by great advances outside. These advanced mitigate the perception that one has of the facade. This is especially true as the roof of the Case Study Houses are usually very close to the ground, the ground floor villas beings. Finally, it makes great use openings transom further strengthening effect this separation and independence of the roof.

Examples: CSH # 16 of Ellwood # 22 of Koenig. / Counter example: # 20 Buff, Straub & Hensman

A structure that rhythm and releases

  • However, the slight fence and released is used here so completely original. The use made by the closing opposes a European vision (Le Corbusier …). The latter deals with the released end of the structure by detaching while remaining a hard element. It comes freely separating the spaces between the structural points.

Closings as screens …

  • If the roof is designed as a completely flat element and monolith, fence system, on the contrary is always completely free and lightweight.
  • Fences are treated here as screens. Lightweight, they hang or cling to the structure. They come and hide in full or in part spaces.
  • These fences are heterogeneous and separated.
  • Heterogeneous, as the Case Study Houses are working on a whole range of variable screens. This panel has a multitude of qualities of materials and areas: opaque, translucent, textile, smooth, textured etc …
  • Dissociated since the closing of the villas can be stripped in several layers, each bearing a closing quality: Climate fence does not necessarily coincide with the visual fence or light etc …
  • The roof dissociation – fence is the source of all the spatial richness of Case Study Houses. The house always extends by a multitude of spaces with multiple and different spatial qualities. These spaces are qualified in their uses, partitions and structure the project in its composition.

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Case Study House Program, Problems and solutions – Partition, composition and hierarchy


From public to private …

  • Systematically the Case Study Houses adopt vis-à-vis protection attitude of the street or public domain.
  • Each time, they refuse any guidance on the street and turns her back systematically.
  • The side of the house facing the street is generally completely blind. The villas refuse any effect of openness and appear on the street in that they have no façade.
  • The villas are often separated from the public domain by a rear garden.
  • The dividing line between public space and the interior of the house is always clearly drawn.
  • This dividing line marking the boundary between the interior and exterior of the house never matches from end to end with the physical limit defining interior and exterior spaces of the house. Thus, some outdoor spaces can be found back towards the inside of the house (thus forming yards, patios etc …), others can be discharged to the outside though covered (such as porches for example). This issue will be thorough about the “spatial diversity”.

The individual and shared…

  • This partition is also systematically established in HSCs.
  • Usual, this partition is not in the case of the Case Study Houses, treated as a true separation day – night; but rather as a boundary between usability spaces, social, individual spaces and personal life.
  • This score is expressed in different ways. Distribution and typology of the project are used to establish a clear distinction between these spaces. The boundary between these two types of space is usually treated radically different from that between the public and privately. This limit is not usually treated as a line of thin and opaque but sharing via internal or external buffer spaces.

Examples: CSH # 3 Wurster & Bernardi, # 4 Rapson # 20 of Neutra

Equipment and functional living spaces…

  • This partition is similar but different from a partition type used – served.
  • This organization between amenities and living areas are generally treated by the Case Study Houses differently from usual spatial partition. Because it does not refer to a line between two types of space but rather between what is about space and what the order of the function. So this is finally a partition distinguishing what is around the area of what is not.
  • And services are covered here often completely minimum and condensed manner. They are either dense, opaque cores, or they take into space a completely floating status and furniture.

Examples: CSH # 22 of Koenig # 16 of Ellwood…

Protected ou exposed…

  • This differenciation means the spaces according to their relations with the outside.
  • It distinguishes the open spaces to the outside of protected areas and declined.
  • This is a radically different designation of the physical boundary between interior and exterior spaces.
  • This partition is not systematically addressed in all the Case Study Houses. Protected areas are available along the limit private – public.
  • It thereby provides a typical organization in the Case Study Houses based on the sequence of spaces: Street / outdoor areas / Protected areas / spaces exposed / Environment.

Examples: CSH # 22 of Koenig, # 20 Buff Straub and Hensman, # 16 of Ellwood


Grid :

  • The Case Study Houses are mostly from a composition screened.
  • The frame is not used as a systematic and binding tool. It refers to a process. Instead of using a form that is creating broken symmetry, axes, inversions, work is more in an additive logic around elements structuring the project.
  • The frame is resilient, it spreads endlessly. It is egalitarian, does not favor any a priori point, no convergence.
  • The frame is ad hoc and repetitive. System applied to the structure gives the frame. All Case Study Houses use a structural frame system.

Examples: All CSH / Counter-example: Eames & Saarine

  • The frame supports the modules use.

Axes :

  • In most cases, the composition of the villas are structured around one or two axes.
  • All spaces are articulated on these axes by hanging onto it.
  • These axes composition then generally carry the traffic. But this is completely implicitly because most often in the Case Studies, circulations are not characterized, the space being completely worked smoothly and continuity.
  • It should be noted that in most cases the villas are on one floor. Thus all of these partitions are marked only in one plane and the houses of the composition is completely horiz

Example: CSH # 16 Ellwood Ellwood # 18, # 24 Jones & Emmons / Counter-example: Koenig

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Complete list of the CSH


Année: Num.: Architecte(s): Surf.: Construit: Materiaux: Adresse: Plan (Cliquer sur l’image)
1945 #11 (#1)* J.R. Davidson 167 m² N Ossature Bois
Eléments de Sapin / Plâtre
540, South Barrington Avenue West
Los Angeles
1945 #4 Ralph Rapson 167 m² N Ossature Bois ou Métal
Panneaux Standardidés
1945 #5 Whitney R. Smith 167m² N Ossature Métal
1945 #6 Richard Neutra 167 m² N Ossature Bois
Panneaux ondulés en ciment
1946 #1 (#11*) JR. Davidson 102 m² O Ossature Bois
Eléments de Sapin / Plâtre
1946 #12 Whitney R. Smith 153 m² N Ossature Bois
Plâtre, Lattes de bois
1946 #13 Richard Neutra 167 m² N
1947 #10 Nomland and Nomland 176 m² O Ossature Bois
Panneaux de Contre-Plaqué
1947 #15 JR. Davidson 102 m² O Ossature Bois
Eléments de Sapin / Plâtre
1947 #16* Rodney A. Walker 185 m² O Ossature Bois
Brique & Panneaux de contre-plaqué
1947 #17* Rodney A. Walker O
1947 #2 Spaulding and Rex 167 m² O Ossature Bois
Panneaux de Contre-Plaqué
1947 #21 * Richard Neutra 185 m² N
1948 #18* Rodney A. Walker 148 m² O Ossature Bois
Panneaux de Contre-Plaqué
1948 #20* Richard Neutra 116 m² O Ossature Bois
Eléments de Séquoia / Plâtre
1948 #7 Thornton M. AbelI 167 m² O Blocs de Béton x
1949 #3 Wurster and Bernardi 167 m² O Ossature Bois
Elements d’Aluminium
1949 #8 Charles Eames 139 m² + 92 m² O Ossature Métal
Panneaux Acier / Plâtre
1949 #9 Eames and Saarinen 148 m² O Ossature Métal
Panneaux Acier
1950 CSH Raphael Soriano 148 m² O Ossature Métal
Plâtre et Panneaux de Verre Ondulé
1952 #16* Craig Ellwood 148 m² O Ossature Métal
Briques, Plâtre
1955 #17* Craig Ellwood 306 m² O Ossature Métal
Briques, Eléments de Sapin
1956 #19 Don Knorr 213 m² N Ossature Métal & Brique
Panneau en bois
1957 #18* Craig Ellwood 213 m² O Ossature Métal
Panneaux de Contre-Plaqué
1958 #20* Buff, Straub and Hensman 167 m² O Ossature Bois
Panneaux de Contre-Plaqué
1958 #21 * Pierre Koenig 122 m² O Ossature Métal
Panneaux Acier
1959 #22 Pierre Koenig 213 m² O Ossature Métal
Panneaux Acier
1960 #23 House A Killingsworth, Brady and Smith 253 m² O Ossature Bois
Panneau de Sequoia
1960 #23 House B Killingsworth, Brady and Smith 209 m² O Ossature Bois
Panneaux de Pin
1960 #23 House C Killingsworth, Brady and Smith 206 m² O Ossature Bois
Panneaux de Pin
1961 #24 Jones and Emmons 162 m² N Ossature Bois
Panneaux de Contre-Plaqué
1963 #25 Killingsworth, Brady and Smith 185 m² O Ossature Bois
1963 #26 Killingsworth, Brady and Smith 306 m² N Ossature Béton préfa
Panneaux de Beton Poli
1963 #27 Campbell and Wong N
1964 Case Study Apartments #2 Killingsworth, Brady and Associates N
1945 #5 Whitney R. Smith 167 m² N
1963 #26 David Thorne O
1964 Case Study Apartments #1 Alfred M. Beadle O
1966 #28 Buff, Hensman and Associates O

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The Case Study Houses program: presentation & history

The Study Houses program was launched in January 1945. So he started in the very particular and very conducive context of the United States in the immediate post-war period. A man, John Entenza was able to see that it was a key moment. He was able to take the lead in maximizing its benefits. This context and the personality of the latter are the elements that made ​​the success of the program.

a Specific context…


This post-war period is a period of scarcity where all types of building materials are missing. Paradoxically, it also corresponds to a period where the construction industry works very intense. This intensity is explained by the long period of inactivity that preceded it.

On the one hand due to the economic crisis of 1929, the building activity is very slow throughout the thirties.
On the other hand, the war of 39-45 marks a complete and total output any breakpoint. All economic activity is oriented to the “war effort” moment. There was then very little opportunitées construction except for purely utilitarian building structures

During all these years, and especially during the war , there has been a great technological development and many progress. These new technologies will finally be tested and applied to the building , so for example :
– New plastics make possible the construction of homes using panels and translucent screens .
– The invention and use of arc welding allows for welding of such quality that they can finally be exposed indoors .
– Improvement of synthetic resins, which make them more resistant than natural resins, serves to seal and develop jointings adapted to new light building panels .
– The emergence of new adhesives coming from the aviation industry allows the development of a wide variety of new composite materials .

Finally, the construction period was not slowed mean a total shutdown of architectural production . On the contrary, the period between the wars saw a multitude of flower theoretical projects . All its potientalités will finally be able to know a realization . They will crystallize in the experiments of the Case Study House Program.


John Entenza, a critic engaged

John Entenza is the man who has by his editorial work and critical to all these reflections to emerge . It opened a whole experimental area .

Entenza began the publication of the ” Arts and Architecture ” magazine in 1938. Context Californian has certainly always been in favor of Modern Architecture . But it is necessary at the time to communicate through a media suppport to the general public. It is thus promote an understanding of new approaches to construction of individual houses emerged during the postwar period . The magazine has become the indisputable leader to win public acceptance of a good design and work on architectural quality . Entenza is who was the initiator.
Essentially teacher, he is convinced that all living with architecture , work on the quality of the built environment affects us all. It keeps a democratic faith in the ability of the public to understand qualitative work on our built environment when making an effort to submit it .

In 1944, he has a good idea of the course will take the modern architecture after the war. The weather is favorable for experimentation. Potential customers have never been so many …
Indeed, the low housing production during the years of depression has led to a shortage of housing that is deeply felt at the end of the war.
In addition, there is a real work to be done because some potential customers are already thinking about the time in terms of house key in hand . Moreover, the term ” Architecture ” seems a big word for families who want , in an emergency, fit comfortably and economically .
While the West Coast has always been a great place for experimentation and innovation in contemporary architecture ; Entenza sees the risk that the architectural quality of the houses built regresses due to the strong post-war production. It is indeed to be feared and that the quality is up to the quantity …

It certainly there has customers who can wait patiently for the architect completes the plans , which are in a demanding approach to architectural quality . It is also at this time that sponsorship organizations can fund experimental work.
But Entenza to realize that despite all many existing innovative ideas on the drawing board or in the minds of designers may not be able to materialize and be permanently lost.

History of the program

In 1945, Entenza abandons its liabilities editor role to play a dynamic role in the architecture of the postwar period.
He committed eight agencies including the magazine ” Arts and Architecture ” becomes the client. Each of these agencies is responsible for the design of a house. Thus begins the program will continue after the departure of Entenza magazine in 1962. The Case Study House Program ends in 1967 to stop the publication of ” Art and Architecture” .

The success and longevity of the program is due to its simplicity. The only stated goal is the development of an environment of well-being without any ideological bias. Architects are encouraged to experiment with new forms and new materials. But the materials should not be used or only selected according to their objective qualities . There is no question of using a material only because it is new .
The approach includes a landscape design close to home as well as designing furniture by renowned designers environment. During the first three years of the program , six houses are fully completed , furnished and landscaped and open to the public .

Approximately 500,000 people visit the first dozen houses . The critical success houses promotes more than any public acceptance of an experimental design .

Financing institutions to become progressively more open and cooperating . Banks are gradually fund contemporary homes . It should be noted that up to this time they refused fairly systematically fund houses with glass walls, open without dining room , kitchen facing the street, a flat roof and concrete slab floor plans; convinced that it was a risky investment without resale value … However, all the houses of “Case Study House Program” were excellent investments and they prove their resale prices …

In the 50s , after 13 houses either completed the program continues at the rate of one house per year. Selected architects are usually young and little known outside of Southern California . Koenig and Ellwood authors of five projects in two of them have both barely thirty when they are asked to design a Case Study House . Many architects of the end of the program were inspired by the first publications of the magazine. Koenig and decided to study architecture after the interest inspired him reading the newspaper .

By throwing a look at the achievements of the program over the last eleven years Entenza takes stock of the Case Study Houses program :

“ We like to think that these houses have been responsible for some remarkably lucid thinking in terms of domestic architecture. While it is true that not all have been every man’s dream cottage, they have, nevertheless had a demonstrably wide influence in the sound use of new materials and in re-use of the old, and had attempted, with considerable success, to suggest contemporary living patterns.”

The analysis of these documents allow us to identify three distinct periods in the program of the Case Study Houses:

1945-1950 , the program proved its worth.
In those first years , priority is given to the economics of the projects . In these early years of the program of Case Studies, 13 houses were built and 7 projects presented. The period begins in 1945 with the announcement of the program and ends with the completion of the house of Eames and Saarinen for Entenza .
All the architects of this period are already confirmed and recognized professionals. They each have a personal style already widely proven …
Any houses built during this period, that of Eames and Saarinen was the first to play with the layout and structure. It is also the first in the program to focus on the use of industrial materials and techniques in the field of architecture. Homes # 8 and # 9 are halfway house between the more traditional villas of the first period and purely experimental houses the following years .

1950-60 The experimental period.
In a second time, during the decade of 50, the focus is on innovative dimension villas, the true economic dimension from the background without , however, be lost sight of. This period extends from the summer of 1950 when Soriano started working on his house in the summer of 1960 , with the completion of the second house Koenig.
Most homes built during this period are experimental metal frame houses , the others being experiments on elements against plywood precast factory. For a century and a half the industry has been used for building materials but the house construction has resisted industrialization. Architects believe at the time that we must change that. Steel promises to bring domestic architecture to industrialization after the end of World War II . But the fundamental difference between houses wood frame and steel frame houses is that in the case of a steel frame all the details should be set at design unlike the wooden frame where you can leave a number of details to the discretion of the manufacturer …
The priority of this period is the development of projects that can serve as prototypes for manufactured homes .

1960-65 , Change of scale.
Finally, one last time , the program has a broader focus. The Case Studies developed during this period no longer interested only in experiments on one house. Reflections extend over a larger scale. You work on groups of houses and their integration to the environment and the city.

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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.

Les Villas expérimentales du Case Study House Program

Le “Case Study Houses Program” est lancé en 1945, par un jeune éditeur californien John Entenza par l’intermédiaire de son journal “Arts & Architecture”. Dans le cadre du programme, le magazine fait appel à différents architectes pour étudier un projet de maison individuelle. Les projets est construits, puis meublés. Il est ensuite porté à la connaissance de tous: d’abord publiés dans les pages de “Arts and Architecture”, les villas sont ensuite ouvertes au grand public pendant une certaine période et finalement vendues.

Cette initiative a plusieurs objectifs désignés par Entenza. Il s’agit tout d’abord de promouvoir auprès du grand public une nouvelle manière de concevoir l’architecture domestique. Il cherche également à provoquer cez le public une nouvelle exigence de qualité architecturale pour leurs propres maisons.

Le programme des Case Study Houses: présentation & historique

Le programme des Study Houses a été lancé en Janvier 1945. Il a donc débuté dans le contexte très particulier et très propice des Etats-Unis de l’immédiat après-guerre. Un homme, John Entenza a su voir qu’il s’agissait d’un moment clef. Il a su prendre les devants pour en tirer les avantages. Ce contexte ainsi que la personnalité de ce dernier sont les éléments qui ont fait le succès du programme.

Un contexte particulier…

Cette période d’après-guerre est une période de pénurie où tout les types de materiaux de construction sont manquants. Paradoxalement, elle correspond également à une période où l’industrie de la construction fonctionne de manière très intense. Cette intensité s’explique par la longue période d’inactivité qui l’a précédé.

D’une part suite à la crise économique de 1929, l’activité constructive est fort ralentie pendant toutes les années trente.
D’autre part, la guerre de 39-45 marque un point d’arrêt complet et total à toute production . Toute l’activité économique est à ce moment orientée vers “ l’effort de guerre ”. Il y a alors très peu d’opportunitées de construction excepté pour construire des structures purement utilitaires…

Pendant toutes ces années et notamment pendant la guerre, on assiste à un très grand développement technologique et à de nombreux progrès. Ces nouvelles technologies vont enfin pouvoir être expérimentées et appliquées au bâtiment, ainsi par exemple :
– Les nouveaux plastiques rendent possible la construction de maisons utilisant des panneaux et des écrans translucides.
– L’invention et l’utilisation de la soudure à l’arc permet d’obtenir des soudures d’une qualité telle qu’elles peuvent être enfin exposées à l’intérieur des maisons.
– L’amélioration des résines synthétiques, qui les rendent plus resistantes que les résines naturelles, permet d’étancher et de développer des jointements adaptés au nouveaux panneaux de construction légers.
– L’apparition de nouvelles colles provenants l’industrie aéronautique permet le développement d’une très grande variété de nouveaux matériaux composites.

Enfin, cette période de construction ralentie n’a pas été synonyme d’un arrêt total de la production architecturale. Bien au contraire, la période d’entre-deux guerre a vu fleurir une multitude de projets théoriques. L’ensemble de ses potientalités vont enfin pouvoir connaitre une concrétisation. Elles vont se cristalliser dans les expérimentations du Case Study House Program.

John Entenza, un critique engagé…

John Entenza est l’homme qui a permis par son travail d’éditeur et de critique à toutes ces reflexions de voir le jour. Il a ouvert tout une aire d’expérimentation.

Entenza débute la publication du magazine «Arts and Architectures» en 1938. Le contexte Californien a certes toujours été favorable à l’Architecture Moderne. Mais il est nécessaire à l’époque de communiquer au travers un suppport médiatique auprès du grand public. Il s’agit de favoriser ainsi une bonne compréhension des nouvelles démarches de construction de maisons individuelles apparues pendant cette période d’après-guerre. Le magazine est devenu l’indiscutable leader permettant de gagner le public à l’acceptation d’une bonne conception et d’un travail sur la qualité architecturale. C’est Entenza qui en a été l’initiateur.
Essentiellement pédagogue, il est convaincu que vivant tous avec l’architecture, un travail sur la qualité de l’environnement construit nous concerne tous. Il garde une foi démocratique en la possibilité du public de comprendre un travail qualitatif sur notre environnement bâti quand il est fait un effort pour le lui présenter.

En 1944, il a une bonne idée du cours que va prendre l’architecture moderne après la guerre. Le temps est favorable à l’expérimentation. Les clients potentiels n’ont jamais été aussi nombreux…
En effet, la faible production de logements pendant les années de dépression a entrainé une pénurie d’habitations qui se fait durement ressentir au sortir de la guerre.
De plus, il y a un véritable travail à effectuer car une partie des clients potentiels pensent déjà à l’époque en terme de maisons clef-en-main. Qui plus est, le terme d’«Architecture» semble un bien grand mot pour des familles qui veulent, dans l’urgence, se loger confortablement et économiquement.
Même si la côte Ouest a toujours été un grand lieu d’expérimentation et d’innovation en matière d’architecture contemporaine; Entenza entrevoit le risque que la qualité architecturale des maisons construites régresse du fait de la forte production d’après-guerre. Il est, en effet à craindre que la qualité laisse ainsi place à la quantité…

Il y a certes des clients qui peuvent attendre patiemment que l’architecte achève les plans, et qui sont dans une démarche exigente de la qualité architecturale. Il existe également à cette époque des organismes de mécénat qui peuvent financer des travaux expérimentaux.
Mais, Entenza se rends compte que malgré tout beaucoup d’idées innovantes existants sur les tables à dessin ou dans l’esprit des concepteurs risquent de ne pouvoir se concrétiser et d’être définitivement perdues.

Historique du programme…

En 1945, Entenza abandonne donc son rôle passif d’éditeur pour jouer un rôle dynamique dans l’architecture de l’après-guerre.
Il engage huit agences dont le magazine «Arts and Architecture» devient le client. Chacune de ces agences est chargée de la conception d’une maison. C’est ainsi que commence le programme qui se prolongera après le départ de Entenza du magazine en 1962. Le Case Study House Program s’achève en 1967 à l’arrêt de la publication de “ Art and Architecture ”.

Le succès et la longévité du programme sont dues à sa simplicité. Le seul but annoncé est le développement d’un environnement de bien-être sans aucun préjugé idéologique. Les architectes sont encouragés à expérimenter de nouvelle formes et de nouveaux matériaux. Mais les matériaux ne doivent être sélectionnés ou utilisés seulement en fonction de leur qualités objectives. Il n’est pas question d’utiliser un matériaux seulement parce qu’il est nouveau.
La démarche inclut une conception paysagère de l’environnement proche de la maison ainsi que la création de mobiliers par des concepteurs reconnus. Durant les trois premières années du programme, 6 maisons sont totalement achevées, meublées et paysagées puis ouvertes au public.

Environ 500 000 personnes visitent la première douzaine de maisons. Le succès critique des maisons favorise plus que tout l’acceptation du public d’une conception expérimentale.

Les institutions de financement deviennent au fur et à mesure de plus en plus ouvertes et coopérantes. Les banques commencent peu à peu à financer les maisons contemporaines. Ils faut préciser que jusqu’à cette époque elles refusaient assez systématiquement de financer des maisons avec des murs en verre, plans ouverts, sans salle à manger, une cuisine faisant face à la rue, une toit plat et des dalles de béton au sol; convaincues qu’il s’agissait d’un investissement hasardeux sans valeur de revente… Or, toutes les maisons du “ Case Study House Program ” furent d’excellents investissements et elles le prouvent par leurs prix à la revente…

Dans les années 50, après que 13 Maisons soit complétées le programme continue au rythme d’une maison par an. Les architectes sélectionnés sont habituellement jeunes et peu connus hors du Sud de la Californie. Koenig et Ellwood auteurs de cinq projets à eux deux ont tout deux à peine trente ans quand ils sont sollicités pour concevoir une Case Study House. Beaucoup d’architectes de la fin du programme ont été inspiré par les premières publications du magazine. Ainsi Koenig décida d’étudier l’architecture suite à l’intérêt que lui inspire la lecture du journal.

En jettant un regard sur les réalisations du programme au cours des onze dernières années Entenza tire un bilan du programme des Case Study Houses:
“ We like to think that these houses have been responsible for some remarkably lucid thinking in terms of domestic architecture. While it is true that not all have been every man’s dream cottage, they have, nevertheless had a demonstrably wide influence in the sound use of new materials and in re-use of the old, and had attempted, with considerable success, to suggest contemporary living patterns.”
(Nous aimons à penser que ces maisons ont été responsables de quelques réflexions remarquables dans le domaine de l’architecture domestique. Même s’il est vrai que toutes ne représentaient pas la maison rêvées de tout homme, elles ont en revanche eu une très large influence dans l’utilisation de nouveaux matériaux et dans la réutilisation de l’ancien et ont tenté avec un succès respectable de suggérer les voies d’un mode vie contemporain.)

L’analyse de ces documents nous permettent de dégager trois périodes distinctes dans le programme des Case Study Houses:

1945-50, Le programme fait ses preuves. Dans ces première années, la priorité est donné à la dimension économique des projets. Dans ces premières années du programme des Case Studies, 13 maisons furent construites et 7 projets présentés. La période débute en 1945 avec l’annonce du programme et se termine avec l’achèvement de la maison de Eames et Saarinen pour Entenza.
Tout les architectes de cette période sont déjà des professionnels confirmés et reconnus. Ils ont chacun un style personnel déjà largement éprouvés…
De toute les maisons construites au cours de cette période, celle de Eames et Saarinen est la première à jouer avec le plan et la structure. Elle est également la première dans le programme à se concentrer sur l’utilisation de matériaux et de techniques industrielles dans le domaine de l’architecture. Les maisons #8 et #9 sont des maisons de transition entre les villas plus traditionnelles de la première période et les maisons purement expérimentales des années qui suivent.

1950-60, La période expérimentale. Dans un deuxième temps, au cours de la décennie 50, l’accent est mis sur la dimension innovatrice des villas, la dimension véritablement économique passant au second plan sans cependant être perdue de vue. Cette période s’étend de l’été 1950, quand Soriano commence à travailler sur sa maison à l’été 1960, avec l’achèvement de la deuxième maison de Koenig.
La plupart des maisons construites au cours de cette période sont des maisons expérimentales à ossature métalliques, les autres étant des expérimentations sur des éléments en contre-plaqués préfabriqués en usine. Depuis un siècle et demi l’industrie a été utilisée pour les matériaux de construction mais la construction de maison a résisté à la l’industrialisation. Les architectes pensent à l’époque que l’on doit changer cela. L’acier promet d’amener l’architecture domestique à l’industrialisation après la fin de la seconde guerre mondiale. Mais la différence fondamentale entre maisons à ossature de bois et les maisons a ossature acier est que dans le cas d’une ossature d’acier tout les détails doivent être réglés au moment de la conception contrairement à l’ossature bois où l’on peut laisser un certain nombre de détails à la discrétion du constructeur…
La priorité de cette période est le développement de projets qui peuvent servir de prototypes pour des maisons industrialisées.

1960-65, Changement d’échelle. Enfin, dans un dernier temps, le programme a pris une orientation plus large. Les Case Studies développées pendant cette période ne s’intéressent plus seulement à des expérimentations sur une seule maison. Les réflexions s’étendent sur une plus large échelle. On travaille alors sur des groupements de maisons et sur leur intégrations à l’environnement et à la ville.