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Pick Six: Vacation Houses
With summer officially beginning on Monday, it as appropriate to make vacation houses the theme for the first Pick Six.
This week's images are culled from Karl Kaspar's 1967 survey, "Vacation Houses: An International Survey." Judging by the selections presented here, which are representative, the book might well been called "Vacation Houses: Themes and Variations." In terms of scale, siting, and materials, the projects depicted share much in common. Humble abodes rather than lavish villas, constructed of wood planking, stone, brick, and plaster, and perched on lakes, shores, and mountains, most if not all of the houses in the survey look comfortable, informal, warm, and rustic--real vacation homes, not show houses, appropriate for families of relatively modest means, appropriate also for landscape, climate, and regional building traditions.
This is not to say that the survey is lacking in visual drama, modernist elegance, or architectural star power. Works by I.M Pei, Marcel Breuer, Harry Seidler, Serge Chermayeff, Charles Gwathmey, Angelo Mangiarotti, Eliot Noyes, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, and Alfred Altherr are featured. I chose to showcase interiors, befitting a post for an interior design magazine. This emphasized similarities, even between flat roof and pitched roof structures, and showed the degree to which expressive elements were subsumed to the living requirements of the inhabitants.
Showing the exteriors would dramatize the formalistic differences--pitched roof vs. flat roof, vernacular vs. international style, glass walls vs. planking, blending into surrounding vs. standing out, etc.
So, without further ado, the six vacation houses I'd most like to crash in this summer:
• I.M. Pei's house for his family in Westchester County. I didn't realize Pei designed a glass house, a la Philip Johnson. Here, Asian spareness perfectly complements modernist minimalism-the house looks both beautiful and livable.
• House in Southern Finland by Bertel Saarnio. An all-timber international style structure, basically a large box cantilevered atop a smaller box. Inside, brick, wood, wood planking, and textiles create a graphically arresting yet harmonious play of shapes, textures, and colors. I like the raised plane of the rail-less seating nook, with the floating built-in bench.
• Mountain lodge in New South Wales, Australia, by Harry Seidler. The structure is stepped going up, with more floor space toward the top, and is constructed within the support beams, which become the most visible aspect of the house.A very spacious top floor interior, with adjoining decks, clean and organized looking but hospitable.
• Cottage in Trento, Italy, by Angelo Mangiarotti. A stone house in the mountains, probably more of a ski cabin, but I'd spend the summer there. The shot here shows the plaster fireplace column, the round beams, flat planks, white lattice screen, and stone wall. A beautifully orchestrated vista of rustic modernism, balancing vernacular and de Stijl elements, wood tones and whites.
• House on the coast of Denmark by Ole Hagen. An A-frame structure with a cantilevered deck. The interior living space shows the high pitched ceiling, and the attic sleeping area on the right. I like the brick set against the wood flooring and roof planking, the built-in cabinet, and the domestic touches: the Jacobsen table and chairs, the hanging lanterns, and the ceramic pots on the beams.
• House at Rovio, Switzerland, by Tita Carloni and Luigi Camenisch. A staggered modernist structure set atop a hill. Shown here is a child's bedroom, with views of the Swiss countryside, and a ladder leading to two loft beds. I don't have children, but I'd stay in this room in a heartbeat.