Architecture Is at a Curious Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Elements like "exposed concrete beams, flat roofs, and large metal windows" are signature elements of both Villa Tegendhat and the Eames House (Neumann 88). What these structures do is to reduce the gap between commercial and personal, between home space and work space. After all, the Eames House was erected as a working studio by its own architectural team. It is a literal fusion of form and function; it is both work house and living space. The concept of blending industrial and domestic elements of design was quintessentially modern. With Villa Tegendhat, Mies would "revolutionize the aesthetics of the bourgeois interi- or by adopting materials and visual elements from the commercial architecture of store displays and exhibition spaces," (Neumann 88). In fact, Mies had revealed the multiple uses for chrome plating, which would be used in domestic architecture for the first time concurrently with uses in the automotive industry (Neumann).

If Villa Tegendhat represents the architectural counterpart to Futurist art, then the Eames House is even more clearly a tribute to the De Stijl aesthetic and especially to Mondrian. The royal blue, red, and yellow plates on the window panes, with their thick black lines framing them and the alternating white spaces, are the Eames' homage to the Dutch painter. Strict angularity, unrelenting vertical and horizontal lines, make the Eames House qualitatively different from Villa Tegendhat mainly in that the latter has a more organic feel due to its use of at least some curvilinear elements. On the outside, though, the Villa Tegendhat is as angular and stark as the Eames House.

The Modernist style and its presumption of internationalism is a primary subject of Frampton and other critical regionalists. In Part 2 of "Toward a Critical Regionalism," Frampton argues that the emergence of the avant-garde, represented by architects like Mies, "is inseparable from the modernization of both society and architecture," (18). According to Frampton, modernism arose out of the ashes of the First World War, from where it was necessary to distinguish artistic enterprise from capitalism. In the pursuit of a liberated artistic spirit came revolutionary forms. This is theoretically present in the Mies construction, but a far more obvious manifestation of the separation of capitalism and art can be seen in the Eames House. Both the Eames House and Villa Tegendhat encompass the paradoxes of modernism: there is simultaneously convergence and divergence of technology and art.

The Eames House was designed a generation later, and its structural elements reflect post-World War Two industry rather than post-World War One industry. There are many structural and material similarities between the two buildings, even though they were constructed a continent and a generation apart. Both are built on a hill, and a strategic vantage point. The architect used the position and the irregularity of the geophysical features to the advantage of the homes. Entrances are not at their most obvious or "central" spaces. Privacy and seclusion are secured, while allowing the residents to interact with the environment surrounding the home. Although the Eames House is more self-consciously integrated with its environment, at least based on the architects' philosophies, both the Eames House and Villa Tegendhat exist in harmony with their surroundings and encourage residents to do the same. The presence of many windows is a unifying element between these two structures, and the windows do allow light as well as visual imagery from the outside world to penetrate perpetually to the indoor space.

Although the Eames House was designed with a live-work space concept in mind and the Villa Tegendhat was not, there are other structural similarities that reveal the universalism and internationalism that were hallmarks of Modernism. For one, both the Eames House and Villa Tegendhat have spiral staircases. The organic shape of a spiral staircase offers counterpoint to the otherwise angular forms of the two structures. Those angles, especially evident in the Eames House due to the eye-catching colors of the exterior glass panels, and the checkerboard effect, are in ironic contrast with nature even as they seem to blend in well. Both the Eames House and Villa Tegendhat boast features that were becoming critical to modern domesticity, such as utility rooms. Both the buildings use a steel frame, and both happen also to use linoleum flooring at least partly throughout the interior.


Modernism celebrates the burgeoning industries that symbolized liberation from non-intellectual pursuits. In the wake of two world wars, Modernism also rejoices in unifying elements that represent harmony rather than conflict between different cultures. Although Modernism had yet to be considered part of the arriere-garde, as Frampton would put it, its avant-garde spirit was meant to encourage a new relationship between person, place, and thing. Modernism meant that materials and aesthetic sensibilities could be detached from culture and even from geography. Similar lifestyles, habits, customs, and materials reflected a global aesthetic that would later become complicated by regional differences.


Correia, K. & Ngo, a. (2008). Eames House. Retrieved online:

Eames Foundation (2013). Eames House History. Retrieved online:

Frampton, Kenneth (1987). Ten points on an architecture of regionalism: A provincial polemic. Retrieved online:

Frampton, Kenneth. "Towards a Critical Regionalism." Retrieved online:

Neumann, Dietrich. "Can One Live in the Tugendhat House?"

Paterson, Scott. (1995). Critical Analysis of "Towards a Critical Regionalism" by Kenneth Frampton." Retrieved online:

UNESCO. "Villa Tugendhat in Brno."

United States Department of the Interior (n.d.). National Historic Landmark Nomination.

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