Wednesday, November 16, 2011

18.36.54 House

A Vacation House built for a Powerful Art World Couple



In the journal entry dated November 11, 2011 I asked the following questions. Will the Metamodern influence domestic architecture, if not, why not? If so, what will the evidence of that influence look like? How will we identify that influence should it take place?*1

In order to answer the questions, I began by sifting through the Architectural Record Website, specifically the “House of the Month” section, and found a vacation house completed on a 56 acre site in Connecticut in July of 2010 by Daniel Libeskind.*2 The odd name for the house describes the 18 folded walls, 36 knife edged points, and 54 lines that include the folds and edges. The house looks as though a traditional domestic structure of wood and plaster had been converted into an extremely expensive metallic and mirrored fantasy, then folded through a time warp, something from a surreal dream. Thus, one of the criteria (a new romanticism) for a Metamodern presence has been met. *3 However, this expensive structure is not domestic architecture for the masses. Additionally Libeskind’s work has these unusual angles with walls, ceilings and floors that tilt creating a slightly disorienting kinesthetic feeling.

I know the criticism that is out there, and I find it irritating because Libeskind begins his work from a location outside our everyday experience. In short, Libeskind is the Jonathan Swift of Metamodern architecture because he puts into question, the very foundation of our daily lives. This architecture is designed to unsettle, not necessarily the best place to begin if one is designing a vacation house. However, looking at the interior photographs of this home - for it is exactly that – I see that the warm wood toned walls, furniture, book cases and books contribute to a space that is at once inviting and friendly. That Libeskind is able to achieve unity between the dichotomy - unsettling surreal architecture versus relaxing and warm vacation residence - is something of a minor miracle and reflects the needs and desires of his Art World client collaborators in this domestic architecture adventure. I might add that Libeskind designed the interior furnishings specifically to fit his goals and those of the couple who hired him, a project remeniscent of Frank Lloyd Wright.


Of course, this first example of Metamodern domestic architecture is not evidence of a major invasion of the housing market. These were clients with enough of the green stuff to pay for an extremely expensive architect to play with enormously expensive materials. However, it does make a mark. Perhaps others will follow. Perhaps they already have.

We shall see.


* Eberle, Todd, photographer in "18>36.54 Houser," Architectural Record, the Website, April 2011, viewed 9:10 A.M., EST, Wednesday, November 16, 2011. It is known that one time use of artwork to illustrate an article for intellectual purposes is within U.S. copyright law as long as it the origin is properly notated.

*1 The author bases reference to the Metamodern on Vermeulen, Timotheus, and van den Akker, Robin, “Notes on Metamodernism,” in Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 2, 2010 DOI: 10.3402/jac.v1i0.5677. On line at, visited 10:35 AM, EDT, Thursday, June 23, 2011.

*2 Stephens, Suzanne, "18.36.54 House," in Architectural Record, the Website, April 2011, viewed 9:10 A.M., EST, Wednesday, November 16, 2011.

*3 See the November 11, 2011 entry to this journal, “The Metamodern in Twenty-first Century Architecture” for the summarized characteristics of Metamodern Architecture.

1 comment:

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