Wednesday, April 20

Glass houses again: meet one of the most influential homes in 20th century architecture

Glenn Walls, How to Avoid Modernism, 2008 (video installation) 
This is an exact scale model of the amazing glass house below

The Glass House by Philip Johnson,1949 is considered a mid-century architectural masterpiece. 
(image via archdaily) It sits upon a rural estate in New Caan, Connecticut. Johnson lived there with his partner, modern art curator David Whitney ( I like to imagine it all very Tom Ford's A Single Man) until he died at the age 98 in 2005. Luckily, he bequeathed it to The National Trust for Historic Preservation. 
You can take tours and read a lot more about it here at the official site

A model of The Glass House on display in MOMA in NYC

A different angle via here: reflective, transparent, minimalist. 
  Inside and out merge. I really do love glass houses.

The house was also featured in Vogue's US October 2009 edition. 
Shot by Annie Liebovitz and featuring Phoebe Philo's (love you phoebe) first collection for Celine, 
you can really see the house's transparency and reflectiveness. The reflections impart so much energy and movement against the static models (image via here)

The director of the glass house (it's now open to the public) explains that although 
they field hundreds of requests to shoot there, they have only approved 3. All non-paid. 
Annie Liebovitz commented on shooting at the site:
"because the architecture is a major player in the dialogue - it is not submissive or passive - 
it has an active voice in the picture"   

I appreciate that Johnson often referred to the house as a viewing platform to look out over landscape. 
I find it such an inspiring and exciting concept. As you may have gathered, I am slightly obsessed about our garden and daydream a lot about it from over here (often while stuck in crazy world-famous Jakarta traffic jams). It doesn't take much to trigger my longing and I only have to glance at a property like Johnson's to start swooning. The way he blurs the line between solid structure and all that surrounds it really takes my breath away. While the house is dramatic, it is also transparent and unassuming and modest, blending into it's surrounding with ease. If I could execute 1/10th of what he does in our garden one day, I'd be very very happy. It's properties like this that inspired me to search for a really special space of our own. 

....and here it is. ok, I feel some poetry coming on - this place is poetic so it's hard not to break out in a ditty! Round the corner and down the gently winding path.....

and boom - my eyes came to rest upon a great big expanse of space (excuse this sound effect and lack of rhyme). In my dream I would put a glass box right here. Alternatively, and more feasibly,  I would love for our house (will get some images of it up soon) to dissolve as much as possible into the garden. For the boundaries between inside and out to be blurred and to create views from as many windows as possible.. 
(the ground cover needs work - the two images above are from the original listing. (This is the same image as above taken from a slightly different angle - in Spring)

As if it couldn't get any better, Johnson's property also includes this unusual and amazing pool. I've already documented my love of pool reflections here and here, so I was very excited to see this image, looking like some sort of lunar landscape. I just took a photographic course this weekend and 
dream about taking a shot like this one above

 I love how the pool has been sunk right into the ground, almost like a natural pond, with no obvious boundary. You can also see it through the window in the next photo.

"The only house in the world where you can watch the sun set and the moon rise at the same time. 
And the snow. It's amazing when you're surrounded at night with the falling snow. It's lighted, which makes it look as though you're rising on a celestial elevator." Philip Johnson describing his home. sigh

Far from a glass house but certainly a house with a serious view, it will be hard to put up curtains or obscure it in any way. I took this photo on the house inspection last year (aka love fest '10 - the one where I had an affair with the house via the computer screen and then had to convince my husband that it was worth flying from Jakarta to see it in person. I really do have so much love for this house. 

Another view. One of the many I took on a beautiful Autumn day 

And finally, more of the MOMA model. 
Imagine playing with this as a doll's house! It definitely would have given my Barbie townhouse a run for it's money. p.s I tend to play 6 degrees of separation with our new house. Maybe because we are not living there yet (and won't for a while longer) has mean't that I tend to 'visit' it via these sorts of images. I can pretty well find some point of reference to this place in every post I make ha! Whatever the reason, the house is like a gateway to a corner of my mind that likes to take regular vacations there. A holiday to a place where I can have a picnic on the lawn, fantasize about building a tree-house, and sip martinis with Philip Johnson by his pool.


Emma at The Marion House Book said...

It really is such an inspiring house. I hope one day to be able to visit it! Your post was also really inspiring. I could feel the love!

sarah said...

Thanks Emma - Yes I hope to visit too one day. In the mean time I take a virtual trip right here.

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