The Lovell Health House is internationally recognized as one of the most significant examples of Modernist architecture.
For the Lovell House, Richard Neutra chose a technique used to build skyscrapers learnt in New York and Chicago; this would have been the first American house built using this method. But, the site was so impervious that Neutra had to adapt the building process creating a completely new one.
Attached to a steel grid, Neutra placed metal floors and floating decks, the terraces are also partially hanging by the decks. This revolutionary system allowed him to complete the framing in 40 working hours. The foundation also support the pool in a steel and concrete cradle that reduces the number of labor-intensive footings needed.
Visitors enter the house from bridges made of concrete, ending in a small and wood-panelled space that plunges down in to a bright modern living room from a glass-enclosed staircase.
From the living room, the house extends to the swimming-pool at the lowest level, which protrudes on the valley from one side while attached to the house from the other, so that a swimmer can go from the clouds to the reassuring protecting building.
The house is further bounded to the slope by the pergola and garage that hugs the hill from the southern side. Placing it perpendicular to the hill, ensured an amazing view from all angles. Neutra also included a relaxation and exercise area with porches, for resting and eating.
The Lovells are remembered as mid-century architecture patrons, but they were firmly against some structural choices adopted in this project as Neutra’s decision to locate the bedroom facing southwest (more exposed to the sun but with a better view), which they considered too warm, and the connection between the private rooms, in their opinion, awkward.
They first asked Rudolph Schindler, a family friend, to design their beach house in Newport and then Neutra to design Lovell’s office in downtown Los Angeles. It’s still not clear why they didn’t chose Schindler for this residence. Probably they believed that Neutra’s ‘airy’ approach to architecture was more suitable for the project.
Despite the criticisms raised by his clients, Neutra’s work brought thousands of admirers to the Lovell House, making it a mid-century architecture icon.
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