Modernist Architect R.M. Schindler Designs Homes meant to be Lived
“The sense for the perception of architecture is not the eyes—but living. Our life is its image.” –Rudolph Michael Schindler (1887-1953)
A visionary who helped develop the cornerstones of not only California Residential Modernism but also Modernism in general, R.M. Schindler created beyond structure, allowing life itself to take the main stage in the intimate setting of the home.
Schindler quickly developed his own style separate from the “International Style” of Modernism quickly sweeping the country with a very distinct look: steel framing, heavy glazing and prefabricated construction. Instead, Schindler’s works married the indoor and outdoor in a thoughtfully articulated manner. Instead of using structure as a barrier to keep one inside, he used it as a vehicle to bring the outdoors in. His desire to connect the home to nature is quite evident in all his projects, including one standout home, the Walker Residence (1935-1936).
Located in Silverlake, the Walker Residence is located on a hillside. Schindler enjoyed developing hillside homes, and each one fell into one of three different “form schemes” he created. The three form schemes are: “balancing above the hill, cascading down with the slope, and rising up in a counter motion.” The Walker House utilizing the second scheme, cascading down with the slope, actively reminds you of it. And yet, the subtlety of The Walker House demonstrates an elegant restraint. From the street, the house appears simple and subdued. Yet, from the back view, the home follows the topography of the slope, expanding as it takes full advantage of the beautiful view.
A motif throughout his projects and one of the best-known features of the Walker home is the row of eight concrete columns. The columns simultaneously elevate the volume of the house, while also creating a large living porch underneath the home, open to the view and a fresh, relaxing breeze. One critic notes, “The house is simultaneously introverted and in harmony with the surrounding natural and urban environment” (84).
Just as each space was created for a designated purpose of daily life, so was each view framed in a sensitive way, “giving each room a different relationship to the outside: some open widely onto outdoor terraces while others are closed-up, barely lit by the clerestory light.” Schindler manipulated light to transform a space and he also used interior personal touches to set the stage of life inside the home. He designed built-in furniture that still exists today and gives an even more detailed view of his vision for the home and life inside of it.
The home is less a promotion of its own magnificent stature and more so a conceptually crafted pathway in which life ought to be enjoyed, and therefore, truly lived. The beautiful view of the reservoir below certainly makes life a little simpler.
For the first time in a generation, the Walker Residence is currently being offered for sale. For more information, please contact Chris Morrow with RE/MAX Estate Properties.
The Walker Residence
2100 Kenilworth Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90039
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