Schindler’s McAlmon Guest House, part 2 of 3 – Analysis

Analysis, first part

I will try to restrict my comments to this one building. Schindler’s buildings can be very different. These comments are how I see the building, you may see it differently. I will try to keep my comments short.  

Schindler System 


It seems obvious, but it is important to note the look of the building. The (new) exterior is all stucco and all one color-white. There is no trim, decoration, eaves, different textures or colors. Window and door frames are minimized. The interior walls, viewed through the large windows, are the same color as the exterior and are extensions of the exterior planes. This emphasizes the building as a sculpture.  


Schindler uses a dimensional system based on a 4’ module, and simple divisions of 4′ such as 1/2 (2′) or 1/3 (1′-4″). This creates a 3 dimensional grid for locating planes and edges. Horizontal lines at key heights run through the building and things happen along these lines-door heads, horizontal planes, clerestory windows, roofs. Vertical edges and corners are positioned on this module. All edges are either horizontal or vertical, there are no diagonals. I think this creates a feeling of order and rationality in the building. It gives the impression that there is a rational system and a reason for things, even though the grid and the reasons are never made explicit.


The grid doesn’t dictate the shape of things, only where edges can occur. The choice of proportions is Schindler’s, and his choices are very horizontal. However, he doesn’t just create long horizontals, things are more complicated. Planes bend around – a horizontal turns into a vertical and then into a second horizontal, each in different proportions and going in different directions. This creates shapes that have a lot of movement and energy.

Next article: Analysis, second part
  Movement and Changing Interpretations

Top: left (entry) side

Two: 3D with 4′ grid

Three: plan with 4′ grid

Four: dynamic horizontal shapes