Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Not sure if I remarked on this before, but here goes... Aluminaire House

New Life in Palm Springs

In 1931, a house was built for an industry trade show. The Aluminaire House was small and daring, small enough to fit into the exhibition hall's space. It was intended to last nine days. 93 years later, it was just reassembled in Palm Springs at the Art Museum.

Typical house of the era

In between, it sat on Long Island for use as a weekend house - purchased at the end of the expo for $1,000 (bout $20,000 today - still, nothing). When it was found, in a dilapidated state it was moved to the campus of the New York Institute of Technology, where various classes of students rebuilt it using original materials.

When NYIT closed the local campus, the Aluminaire House was ultimately sent to Palm Springs, already a living history of Bauhaus, Modern, and Post-Modern architecture. I haven't seen it, but I cannot wait.

Here is a bit of CNN's write up

The house was small — it had to fit inside an exhibition hall in Manhattan, after all — and entirely clad in corrugated aluminum panels over a steel frame. Elevated on pylons, it seemed to float lightly on the landscape. Very unusually for the time, large areas of glass let inhabitants connect with the outdoors, and the upper level housed an outdoor garden. Frey’s designs were fresh, precise, beautiful, and rigorous in their use of basic, off-the-shelf materials. This simplicity belied the genius of the man that created them.

But it was the ideas that the house embodied that made it so important in the canon of Frey’s work: The style was European but the construction was all American in its assembly-line nature, using off-the-shelf materials. It showed the public in three dimensions how ideas put forth by Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus movement — simplicity in design and honesty in construction — could be translated into a new and modern way of living. It had an inventiveness and optimism that had not yet been seen in the US, and offered a solution for low-cost housing so prescient for the times.

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