“The house is lit­er­ally built into the hill­side with a large rock pro­trud­ing into the struc­ture”

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - Arts -

rock pro­trud­ing into the struc­ture which helps to define the space be­tween the liv­ing area and set-down sleep­ing area. The house’s form is quite dis­sim­i­lar to many of the other mid-cen­tury Palm Springs classics, in­clud­ing Frey’s pre­vi­ous house. The flat roof planes and rec­ti­lin­ear geom­e­try of those other houses here give way to a slop­ing cor­ru­gated steel skil­lion roof with wide, light­weight eaves, curvi­lin­ear and an­gled lines and use of more raw and or­ganic in­te­rior ma­te­ri­als such as ply­wood, con­crete and stone in its nat­u­ral form. The Frey House II is now owned by the Palm Springs Art Mu­seum and is lived in and main­tained by a staff mem­ber to pre­serve it as a liv­ing dwelling.

One com­mon thing the Frey house has that is seem­ingly ubiq­ui­tous for Palm Springs is a swim­ming pool. Pools, of course, have a prac­ti­cal pur­pose in pro­vid­ing in­stant re­lief on sear­ingly hot sum­mer days as well as a cool­ing evap­o­ra­tive ef­fect; how­ever, they have an al­most iconic sta­tus in Palm Springs. Pho­to­graphic and artis­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Palm Springs life through­out the 20th cen­tury al­most in­vari­ably in­volves the swim­ming pool, and there is some­thing en­chant­ing and idyl­lic about the syn­chronic­ity be­tween the colour of the wa­ter and the eter­nally blue sky.

So en­chant­ing it seems that in cir­cum­stances where a pool was not pos­si­ble its colour was in­cor­po­rated in other ways such as the fa­mous blue mo­saic tile wall on the City National Bank by Vic­tor Gruen & As­so­ciates.

Many houses such as the Frey House are pri­vately owned and ac­cess is gen­er­ally re­stricted to small group tours dur­ing Mod­ernism Week. How­ever, if you end up in town at other times of the year, there are plenty of ar­eas where sig­nif­i­cant houses can be seen by sim­ply strolling along the street. The Twin Palms Es­tate, for ex­am­ple, was an early sub­di­vi­sion by the Ge­orge Alexan­der Con­struc­tion Com­pany and fea­tures about 150 houses de­signed by Dan Palmer and Wil­liam Krisel. The floor plan of each house is prac­ti­cally iden­ti­cal; how­ever, the over­lay of dif­fer­ent fa­cade and roof de­signs means each house has its own char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity. One such roof de­sign is the but­ter­fly roof, a clas­sic mid-cen­tury form whereby an up­turned V-shaped roof ap­pears to float over a strong hor­i­zon­tal base.

For their next pro­ject, the Ge­orge Alexan­der Con­struc­tion Com­pany moved to the other side of town and be­gan a de­vel­op­ment that would be­come known as the Alexan­der Steel Houses, de­signed by Don­ald Wexler. As the name sug­gests, th­ese houses evolved struc­turally through their use of ex­posed steel frame­work and they had a con­se­quent light­ness of form that was less ev­i­dent at Twin Palms.

The char­ac­ter­is­tics of steel con­struc­tion also al­lowed the houses to be de­signed from a pre­fab­ri­cated 2.7m x 11m mod­ule, dra­mat­i­cally speed­ing up the process of con­struc­tion. De­spite the ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy, the in­creas­ing price of steel ul­ti­mately led to the demise of

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.