The Schindler House

Each house needs to be composed as a symphony, with variations on a few themes.

R. M. Schindler, 1926

The Schindler studio-residence was built between February and June 1922 on Kings Road in Hollywood, California. The houses design addressed and even resolved architectural problems involved with new methods of construction, a low budget, organization of living space, aesthetics, and a new life philosophy in a revolutionary manner. In many respects, the Schindler house marks the beginning of modern architecture in California.

The house was built according to the life philosophy of Pauline Schindler and a rather optimistic appreciation of the usually mild Southern Californian climate.

Few materials were used: concrete, wood, glass, and canvas. It was important to Schindler to integrate the natural properties of the materials into the design of the building. Architectural functions remained visible, and the natural color and texture of the materials were not covered by layers of paint.

The house was designed for 3 households consisting of 2 couples and one bachelor without children. The floor plan consists of three L shapes spinning out from a central fireplace. The Schindler house floor plan

The building sits directly on a concrete slab which serves as foundation and floor, avoiding the expense of excavation. Concrete was poured into wooden molds to form panels that were then tilted up to form walls. Three inch (7.5 cm) glass strips separate the panels. A wooden frame solidified the structure.

Each adult disposed of a private studio for work and play. Each studio is enclosed on 3 sides by concrete walls with one open side facing a patio serving as a living and dining room. The garden opening is controled by three translucent sliding canvas panels. The floor level is the same as that of the patio minimizing the transition from indoors to outdoors. The ceilings are of wood with skylights between different ceiling levels. Roofed sleeping baskets were the only living quarters above ground level.

In the hopes that shared cooking duties would reduce their drudgery, a common kitchen was shared by the occupants.

The buildings plans extend outside the enclosed structure to the property boundaries. Living areas are delimited by hedges and differing garden levels which are no less complexly conceived and structured than the enclosed spaces. A view of the Schindler House circa 1922

Schindler's own description of the house:

Each room in the house represents a variation on the constructive architectural theme. This theme corresponds to the principle requirements for protecting a tent: a protected back, an open front, an open fireplace and a roof. Each room has a concrete wall at the rear and a large front opening onto the garden with sliding doors. The shape of the rooms and their relationship to the patios and various roof levels creates a totally new spatial concept between the interior and the garden.