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AD Classics: Kings Road House - A Masterpiece of Modernist Architecture

CEO Khai Intela
Image: © Joshua White Secluded behind a lush screen of towering bamboo in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, stands a house that revolutionized the world of architecture - the Kings Road House.[^1^] Designed by Rudolf Schindler...

AD Classics: Kings Road House / Rudolf Schindler - Windows, Facade, Forest Image: © Joshua White

Secluded behind a lush screen of towering bamboo in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, stands a house that revolutionized the world of architecture - the Kings Road House.[^1^] Designed by Rudolf Schindler in 1921, this iconic building marks the birth of Modernist residential design, setting the stage for decades of architectural innovation. Let's delve into the story behind this remarkable masterpiece.

A Dream Inspired by Taliesin

During his architectural studies in Vienna, Austria, Rudolf Schindler became determined to work alongside the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright in the United States. In 1914, he sailed to New York,[^2^] achieving his goal just as the First World War drew to a close in 1918. A year later, Schindler, with his wife Sophie Pauline Gibling, visited Wright's Taliesin studio in Wisconsin, where they found inspiration in the harmonious coexistence of the house and its natural surroundings.[^3^]

A Meeting of Minds

After moving to Los Angeles in 1920, Schindler encountered architect Irving Gill, the only local designer attempting to break away from the prevalent Spanish Colonial revival style. Fascinated by Gill's tilt-slab construction technique, Schindler envisioned a collaboration that would blend the pastoral serenity of Taliesin with the industrial efficiency of tilt-slab concrete.[^4^] This vision laid the groundwork for the design of the Kings Road House.

AD Classics: Kings Road House / Rudolf Schindler - Image 6 of 10 Image: Courtesy of The United States Library of Congress

Designing a Cooperative Dwelling

The Kings Road House was not conceived as a typical single-family residence. Instead, it was designed to be shared by two couples, Schindler and his wife, and Marian and Clyde Chace. Schindler served as the architect, while Chace acted as the builder, enabling both couples to save money on labor and materials.[^5^] The house, constructed on a small lot, featured individual studios, communal living spaces, and several distinct garden areas, creating a harmonious blend of privacy and natural beauty.[^7^]

Construction and Evolution

Groundbreaking took place on February 15, 1922, with all future residents actively participating in the construction process. Schindler further refined Gill's tilt-slab system, employing four-foot long units that could be tilted into place without a crane. The use of glass seams between concrete slabs added a touch of light and elegance to the unfinished structure.[^9^] The house was completed by June 1922 and continued to evolve as the residents added fixtures and furniture over the next two years.[^10^]

AD Classics: Kings Road House / Rudolf Schindler - Door, Windows, Beam Image: Courtesy of Flickr user collectmoments

Changing Residents, Preserving Legacy

Financial difficulties led to the departure of the Chaces in 1924. Architect Richard Neutra and his family subsequently moved in, while Schindler's marriage crumbled. Neutra's presence facilitated Schindler's architectural career, but their relationship grew cold over time. In the late 1930s, Schindler's ex-wife, Pauline, returned to the house, and the two lived there as a divorced couple until Schindler's death in 1953. In 1980, the Friends of the Schindler House nonprofit organization acquired the property, ensuring its preservation. Today, the house is known as the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, a public exhibition gallery in West Hollywood.[^13^]

AD Classics: Kings Road House / Rudolf Schindler - Image 3 of 10 Image: © Luke Fiederer

A Testament to Timeless Design

Decades have passed, and the Kings Road House has witnessed immense change in its surroundings. What was once open land is now dominated by towering apartment buildings. However, the house's core principles and design philosophy have stood the test of time. Hidden behind the verdant bamboo curtain, it continues to merge indoor and outdoor spaces seamlessly, creating a serene and harmonious sanctuary.[^13^]

References: [^1^]: Smith, Kathryn. Schindler House. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2001. [^2^]: Smith, p7-14. [^3^]: Smith, p16. [^4^]: Smith, p17-18. [^5^]: Smith, p18. [^7^]: Sweeney, Robert and Judith Sheine. Schindler, Kings Road, and Southern California Modernism. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012. [^9^]: Sweeney and Sheine, p18. [^10^]: Sweeney and Sheine, p20. [^13^]: "Schindler House."

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