Friday, 7 December 2012

Esther McCoy on Schindler, Space Architect

“Isn’t there anyone who understands that the main purpose of socialization is to eliminate any kind of profit? … Can any technician or artist overlook what it would mean for mankind if any act, any work, were to be only the result of a wish simply to fulfill this act for its own sake and not to earn anything from it? … As if the wish to express one’s self were not the strongest urge of a free human being, and as if it were beneath the dignity of man to do work which was not the direct expression of the individual! … Only when words like compensation, wages and competition become unknown, and only then, will true socialism begin.” 

Chicago, April 14, 1920. An excerpt from R.M. Schindler’s letter to Richard Neutra.

Schindler was an architect’s architect. While Wright may have been the most influential, Schindler was the most borrowed from. His conception of space and the construction methods that he developed was what set him apart. He was always looking for a more economic way to build, and did all of the contracting himself. He included (albeit in the former half of his career) very little detail and dimensions in the final blueprints; most of which was roughed in with a no. 1 pencil. However, he was incredibly meticulous. He spent most of the afternoon on the job site overseeing the construction. This allowed him the control of and to refine every last detail, and to make decisions on the spot. While designing, he works with two things, the contour map of the lot and the Los Angeles building ordinances. His reference books collected dust and he owned very few magazines. 
He was dismissed by many at the time because they saw him as only playing with architecture. He could not be serious about architecture, spending every afternoon at the job site. In fact, however, he was serious about both architecture and playing with it. His system was based on the building code, use, and necessity. He praised his draftsmen, but redrew their work on a new premises, and “playfully brought the spaces into dissident agreement” (Morgan, 123).
Schindler’s approach was primarily concerned with space. He developed this strategy as a student in Vienna, and incorporated it in all of his works. 

He designs and builds in terms of space rather than mass forms. His houses are wrapped around space. You can quickly see in his space forms how he has created a new definition for space; a Schindler house is in movement, it is in becoming. (Morgan, 73)

His style was dubbed Space Architecture, and was rooted in the character of the land and the client’s way of life. It was coloured by its surroundings. He had dug into Los Angeles and there his architecture settled.

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