#Lecture 7

Frederick Kiesler (1890 – 1965)

Frederick Kiesler first gained recognition in 1925 when he designed City in Space.  It was a large grid like construction for the International Exposition of Decorative Arts in Paris.  “Its straight lines and flat planes joined at right angles embodied the utopian belief that simple geometric forms in art would help facilitate a more rational and egalitarian society.” 

A hanging suspension of space really does exploit steel construction.  It is panels suspended and beams without supports…Kiesler described it as “…System of tension in open space”.  Through this exhibition Kiesler was able to express his ideas on ‘mega city’ visionary:

“The country city: the division of city and country will be abolished
The time city: time is the measure of organisation of its space
The space city: it floats freely in space in a de-centralised federation
dictated by the ground formation
The automatic city: the processes of daily life are mechanised.
[…] we want:
1. Transformation of the surrounding area of space into cities.
2. Liberation from the ground, abolition of the static axis.
3. No walls, no foundations.
4. A system of spans (tension) in free space.
5. Creation of new kinds of living, and, through them, the demands which will remould society.”

[From: Frederick Kiesler, Vitalbau-Raumstadt-Funktionelle Architektur, typescript]



Maison De Verre 1928 – 1932

Maison De Verre was designed by three architects, Pierre Chareau who was known for furniture and interior design, Bernard Bijvoet, an Dutch architect and Louis Dalbet who was a craftsman metalworker.  What is most striking about this house is the facade and the material choice.  It is very dominantly made up of translucent glass blocks, seemingly stacked up upon one another forming the a wall.  Of course some selected areas are just clear.

The location of this site, what that of between structures which did block natural light which is why the facade transparency is to this degree.  Orriginally, the building which stood before was a much older building which was initially meant to be destroyed, however there was already an occupying tenant living on the top floor.  So it was in the best interest of all parties to completely demolish the bottom floors to create the Maison De Verre whilst simultaneously keeping the top floor in tact.  This is another story I find really interesting!!

On the interior, it is spatially divided up with the use of sliding, folding or rotating screens in glass, perforated metal.  This is seen below in the photograph where a concrete sliding door seperates the living space to the domestic study.  There is somethings quite mechanical about these materials, and with this we start to get a sense of the technical aspects to the house.   Other mechanical devices, as they can only be described, are features such as, a retracting stair from the private sitting room to the elderly tennant’s, Dalsace’s bedroom and many complex fixtures.


One things that I truly find ironically quite tasteful is the fact that the materials are raw.  In the sense that they are not plastered over, or have any varnishings or finishing touches applied to them, they just are what they are… and maybe this is what gives them a real industrial feel…?   I feel this peice of architecture really celebrates this feature.


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