Women and the Making of the Modern House
Today’s blog, introduces the idea that women played a big role in the origins of the modern house. We will explore a few modern houses and look at why were the clients, independent females, such powerful catalysts for innovation in the modern house?
Women and the Making of the Modern House, written by Alice T. Friedman, is a thoughtful book that explores two seemingly unrelated topics: gender roles, and architecture.
Specifically, the book discusses 6 innovative projects, involving female clients and well-known architects. It combines social and architectural history to look at the roles played by both the architects and the clients, and explores the processes of collaboration and negotiation from which decisions about design were made.
A conviction shared by modern architects and their women clients was that the essence of modernity was the revolutionary re-thinking of the concept and function of home – its construction, materials, and interior space.
“Not only did women commission avant-garde architects to provide them with houses in which to live out their visions of a new life, but these visions rested on a redefinition of domesticity that was fundamentally spatial and physical. A powerful fusion of feminism with the forces of change in architecture thus propelled these projects into uncharted realms of originality” (Alice T. Friedman)
The 6 innovative houses are:
Hollyhock House, Los Angeles, 1919-21, by Frank Lloyd Wright for Alice Barnsdall
House 2: The Schroder House, Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1923-24, by Gerrit Rietveld for Truus Schroder
House 4: Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Plano, Illinois, 1945-51
House 5: The Constance Perkins House by Richard Neutra in Pasadena, California, 1952-55
House 6: Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, 1961-64
Stay tuned to learn more about these houses and how their women patrons of architecture were the catalysts for innovation.
All photos are from Alice T. Friedman’s book.