RM Schindler’s Elmer House, 1952 (unbuilt), Conclusion part 5 of 5

Loose Ends miscellaneous things worthy of comment


The windows in the Elmer House are an unusual late Schindler design. They are unframed pieces of glass, with glued-on handles, that slide in grooves in the frame like the doors of a china cabinet. (fig 1) I first noticed this Schindler window in the original Shulman photos of the Erlik House, at the Getty Institute web site. I was excited to see them, still in use, in the Skolnick House.(fig 2, handles have fallen off) An interesting way to radically simplify window construction.


The playroom was probably included because it is almost free. It is built between the house supports, using the space below the living room floor and above the slope. There is a rolling door at the bottom of the stairs, the playroom itself is entirely open-air. (figs 3 and 4) A future bathroom is shown on the plans (and in my model). A wonderful idea for a house and site that are short on useable outdoor space, I’m sure it would have been quickly enclosed for more living space.


There are Schindler’s built-in fluorescent soffit lights throughout this house.(fig 5) Every room, except the secondary bedroom, has extensive built-in lights. The living and bedroom areas, with built-in lights on one side only, would have required additional free-standing lights.


The view and the major windows in the living room and back bedroom face north. North light is soft and changes slowly throughout the day. The south facing clerestory introduces south light, which is bright and changes more quickly throughout the day with the sun’s position. Bright shafts of sun light move through the living room. In the early morning, light comes in from the east facing window at the couch corner. (fig 6) As the sun moves higher towards the south, bright patches of light from the clerestory move across the living/bedroom space. (fig 7) In the late afternoon the light is mostly the soft north light. (fig 8 ) The sunset sky is visible through the high glass in the bedroom’s west wall at the end of the day.(fig 9)

Even the Plaster Skin kitchen/laundry and second bedroom have lots of light, with windows on at least two sides.  The laundry (fig 12) and bedroom have south facing, high horizontal Plaster Skin windows. The kitchen and laundry also have east facing windows. (fig 10-11) In addition to the south facing horizontal window, the second bedroom has a huge window and French door facing north. A western window creates another Schindler open corner.(fig 13)

At night, the extensive built-in light soffits reinforce the single volume of the living and back bedroom. (fig 14)

The house is filled with light, light that changes character throughout the day.


It would have been a strange and wonderful house.

What If?

Where would Schindler’s work have gone, if he had lived longer? I think he would have continued in the same way he always had. Not by following a particular style, but by developing new construction techniques such as the Schindler Frame and the unframed windows, recalling previous forms such as the rotated frames and Plaster Skin design, and mixing them all together with new ideas – creating highly original buildings that surprise and delight.