RM Schindler’s Kaun Beach House 1934-35, part 2 of 3

Exteriors

The most striking feature of the exteriors is the green roll roofing. It covers the roofs and wraps down in horizontal bands over all the walls-even the garage doors (Figure 1). The bottom edge of each band is installed over triangular wooden strips that angle the roofing out from the wall (Fig 2 with notes from CD’s). This creates ridges and shadow lines that further emphasize the horizontal. Schindler used this same system of horizontal bands of roofing on part of another home, the De Keyser House 1, at about the same time. The roofing was a response to the extremely small budget of both houses 2.

The horizontal ridges occur every 16” (1/3 of 4’), a favorite module for Schindler. Where houses such as the Buck, McAlmon and Oliver were also designed using a 16” grid, here the grid (or at least the horizontal part of the 16” grid) is made visible. Both the house and the garage have the 16” strips, and the CD’s call for the garage floor to be precisely 16” (one row) higher than the house. The ridges of the two buildings align-the grid extends out into space and connects the two buildings.

The house is a long rectangle with a shed roof (roof slopes in one direction). A lower flat roof volume projects beyond the shed, just to the right of the front door. This volume contains a built-in couch, book shelves and coat closet. A long row of windows, just below the roof, separates the roof from the walls. From the front, the house and the garage appear to have flat roofs (Fig 3 & 4). The house faces the street and the angled roof isn’t seen, the garage has a flat roofed volume that hides most of the angled roof behind. The house’s entry, with its dramatically projecting overhang, high windows and low projecting volume reminds me of the McAlmon House entry, wrapped in green (Fig 5).

In typical Schindler fashion, the sides and rear are unexpected-they look different from the front. The angled roof is clearly visible on the sides, where the horizontal bands are bent up. Large windows fill the gap between the angled roof and the horizontal bands on the left (southeast) side (Fig 7). The right (northwest) side is a wonderful composition of the vertical plaster chimney, angled roof and flat sunshade (Fig 6). Schindler must have liked this chimney/sloped roof/flat roof composition, because he repeated it in the 1945-47 Presburger and 1945 Roth Houses.

The garage/studio repeats much of the house massing, without the chimney (Fig 11). The roofs of both buildings slope up towards the patio, creating two high walls to define and shelter it.

The rear of the house has a projecting flat roof sunshade (it doesn’t extend inside as a flat ceiling) that, like the front, makes the building look like it is entirely flat roofed (Fig 8). The terraces, walls, stairs, rows of trees and lines of bushes extend the geometry of the house out into the site. From the beach below, this tiny house commands its site (Fig 9 & 10, and animation).

Overall, this house looks very different from other Schindler houses built at this time. The Plaster Skin houses he was building during the 1930’s and early 40’s, such as the McAlmon, Buck and Oliver Houses, are smooth forms that minimize details and structure. Later in his career, Schindler turned his focus more to materials and structure in his Schindler Frame houses of the late 1940’s and 50’s. This 1934-35 house, with its emphasis on materials and structure, is a preview of the later Schindler Frame houses.

Next article: interiors

Footnotes

1  Special thanks to Martin Schall and his site You-are-here.com for letting me link to his photo of the De Keyser house.

2 Judith Scheine, R.M. Schindler (London: Phaidon Press, 2001), 178.

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