ARCH 3308/4408/6308/6408
SingleHousing: The Architect's Home

extravagant bedroom with a white fur bed cover

Bedroom in the Lina and Adolf Loos apartment, 1903 (reconstruction). Exhibition MAK, 2014. photo / Peter Kainz/MAK

  • Instructor: Rubén Alcolea
  • Time: F 10:10 a.m.–12:05 p.m.
  • Location: 142 East Sibley Hall
  • Credits: 3
  • Territory of Investigation: Architecture and Discourse, Architecture and Representation

"To be free at least once in my life! To combine in one person the function of architect and client, I decided to build myself a house . . ."

~Konstantin Melnikov

The houses the architects have built for themselves are simultaneously a self-portrait, an experiment, and a manifesto. The single house typology has been in the very center of the battlefield to address the ideals of modern and contemporary architecture. And the private residences the masters have designed for their own use are even more critical to understand how these universal topics are developed along their intimate architecture goals. Starting with Sir John Soane's house in London, built between 1792 and 1837, the houses of the architects are a very particular typology, where extraordinary accomplishments coexist with many other failures. Those homes combine the self-absorbed daring of the painter while looking at himself at the mirror and the insatiable curiosity of the physician who uses his own body as a test for a new cure. This built and narcissistic self-portrait of the architect has been developed by many of the great architects, such as Asplund, Barragán, Broner, Bottoni, Coates, Dieste, Eames, Eierman, Erskine, Gehry, Gray, Jacobsen, Johnson, Kikutake, Loos, Melnikov, Moore, Navarro-Baldeweg, Neutra, Niemeyer, Prouvé, Schindler, Tange, Venturi, Williams, or Wright.

These and many others will be discussed, as clear examples of intense rhetorical experiments both functional and inquisitive. This theory class, SingleHousing: The Architect's Home, will address the specifics of those desires for the designers to build their own private spaces. Theory lectures will present in deep the houses, and will also address the concept of defining a client or who the architect really is while trying to distinguish how architecture differs when architect and user merge into a unique soul. The houses will be studied and arranged by topics instead of by author, so the buildings would be somehow dispossessed of their authorship to be part of a common body of architecture places. In addition, students will research the houses by focusing on their very specific parts and elements, which define the intimate scale of human interaction within the built nature of the space.

View a PDF of this class description.