John Lautner - Elrod House - Palm Springs USA 1968

You have to admire someone bold enough to design a LA mansion with an entry that looks like a disused section of freeway infrastructure.  Engulfed in palms and creeper vines, this cold vast windowless wall says nothing about the richness of the interior beyond.  There's the sense that it's a modern ruin, the fortifying walls of a great modernist utopian colony long since disappeared.  There's no guards at the gate, no aggression.  You want to sneak in and explore, thankfully the interior doesn't disappoint.

There are a few reasons I feel the way about this building entry.  Lautner was a master and pioneer of 'free-form' modernism, and this is a very pure example (despite its geometric impurity).  Scale is a big part of it.  There are 2 objects made of concrete.  As you ascend the steep road from below the first object dominates, but as you pass the building the scale shifts dramatically and the second object takes the dominant position.  Both objects are perfect arcs in plan.  The first is a convex wall bulging out and up to the sky.  The second is a concave canopy, receding behind the first.  The entry to the house is the space between the two objects, and this space expands and contracts as you move past or through it.  It is extraordinarily complex and powerful yet at the same time exquisitely simple and understated.

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