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

Interior

NOTE  I make my models to show designs, spaces and ideas. They are not intended to be photo realistic. The interiors of the Kaun House are all wood, stained yellow. Schindler’s stains are typically semi-transparent and allow the wood grain to show through. I chose not to show that grain in this model-it was distracting and unpleasant looking. So when you see the interiors, imagine that the flat yellow walls and ceilings have a faint wood texture showing through.

Schindler’s interiors are known for his sculptural cabinets. The Kaun House, all wood on the inside, is like being inside one large cabinet. The walls are covered with ¼” plywood, the ceiling is exposed wood beams and roof planks, the floor is wood. The only thing that isn’t wood is the plaster finished fireplace.

The interior of the house (Figure 1) is a simple volume formed by the single slope shed roof (Fig 2-cross section at the living), with a lower volume to the front. The bath is the only fully enclosed room, the rest of the spaces flow into each other over partial height furniture-the bookshelves at the kitchen and the closets at the dressing area (Fig 3).

The entry, in typical Schindler fashion, is at the corner of the living room (Fig 4). Directly ahead you can catch a glimpse of the Bay through the kitchen French doors. The major entry view is diagonally across the living room (another typical Schindler touch) and out an open corner of large windows and rolling french doors (Fig 5).

A desk just to the left of the open corner becomes partial height bookshelves that wrap around the kitchen. The living room opens to the kitchen above these bookcases, through a glassed-in corner opening (Fig 6). The fireplace frames the open corner on the right. The long, low, built-in couch in the low volume (a modern inglenook) is just to the right of the fireplace (Fig 7). The tiny kitchen breakfast nook has an open corner to the terrace and the Bay (Fig 8).

Looking down the house from the fireplace, a double sided bank of closets ends the living/dining space (Fig 6). The dressing room is on the other side of the closets (Fig 9). The bathroom, with its rolling door made from a single sheet of 4’x8’ plywood, is to the right. The living room space continues over the partial height closets and out the large, southeast facing windows above the dressing area (Fig 6).

The detached studio has a shed roof interior similar to the house. The high windows, french entry door and large side window make the corner feel completely open. The studio has a terrific Bay view out the corner, past the house (Fig 10). The studio was probably for Mr. Kaun, who was an artist as well as a writer.

A few Details

Lights What are those rectangles up on the ceiling, visible in the original photo (Fig 11)? Digging into the construction drawings, I found that they are built-in lights (Fig 12). A piece of ground glass is set between the roof beams. A light bulb and tin reflector are above the glass. Very simple and cheap, but also very nicely designed. They take advantage of this house’s structure-6” deep beams spaced 2’ apart. Schindler designed similarly simple and cheap built-in lights, integrated into the structure, in all of his houses.

Desk/bookshelves  Schindler’s built-in furniture helps create the intricate interior spaces of his houses, they become sculpture. The desk and shelves are a wonderful example (Fig 13). The right end of the desk extends beyond the door jamb-into the open corner and the Bay view-a typically dramatic Schindler cantilever. The desktop is spaced away from the wall by a bookcase. The bookcase ends about 15” back from the door jamb, creating a pocket for curtains-curtains to shade the afternoon glare off the Bay to the west. The left end of the desk rests on more bookshelves. These shelves then wrap around the kitchen corner. The shelf horizontals are deeper than the verticals, emphasizing the horizontal lines-particularly when books would hide the shallower verticals. The corner of the shelves has no vertical support, a Schindler open corner (like the living room and studio corners) that also emphasizes the horizontal. The shelves are 5’-4” tall (four 16” modules), a partial height divider between the kitchen and the dining. Not bad for some nailed together 1x lumber and plywood.

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