Case Study House 28. Conrad Buff and Donald Hensman

The only house of its kind to be built in Ventura County, California, Case Study House #28 was the last single-family home designed and constructed by renowned architects Conrad Buff and Donald Hensman of the firm Buff, Hensman and Associates (now Buff, Smith and Hensman).

Covering almost 5,000 square feet, #28 is one of the largest projects in the Case Study House program and is now, alongside many other of these fascinating constructions, protected by the National Park Service.

case study house #28

case study house #28

Consisting of just one expansive floor, the house itself is designed as a hybrid in which the steel frame structure, left exposed in many of Buff and Hensman’s previous domestic designs, is concealed by clay bricks.

This change in the design process allowed the Janss Development Corporation and Pacific Clay Products to demonstrate the advantages of using brick in modern architectural design.

The use of heavy steel and brick is alleviated by over 4,000 square feet of clerestory glass windows that work to seamlessly integrate the interior areas of the house with its multiple courtyards and impart on Case Study House #28 the notions of classic mid-century modern architecture.

The overall periphery of the house approximates a square composed of two rectangles which are separated by a garden court and linked by two glass-enclosed galleries.

By creating two separate wings and placing them physically apart from one another, the architects were able to divide the areas of the house used for everyday family activities from those used for rest and relaxation. This split design permits the family privacy and flexibility in their everyday lives whilst enabling a togetherness and intimacy that results from spreading the house over a single floor.

case study house #28

The area inside the square, occupying the space between the two parallel wings of the house and their perpendicular glass corridors, consists of an expansive courtyard which houses a swimming pool and garden area.

The placement and design of Case Study House #28’s courtyard, an area enclosed by the structure of the house but permeated by shaded glass windows and transparent walkways, works to define the area as the physical and visual focal point of the house while simultaneously communicating a feeling of security and privacy that only comes with structurally enclosed gardens.

case study house #28

Throughout the courtyard the architects included areas of shaded brick patio that offered relief from the direct rays of sunshine that affect the more central areas of the garden area.
These sections of slightly enclosed patio and the arrangement of the garden itself, create the impression that the pool, although in a central location within the structure and therefor able to be maximally enjoyed by the whole family, is somewhat in the background and not the soul dominant feature of the garden and subsequently the house itself.

Buff and Hensman wished to emphasize the importance and positive effect of using similar materials throughout a design and this is indicated in the design of Case Study House #28 by the continued use of brick in both interior and exterior areas of the house. By using the same brick for the external patio areas as the interior walls and floors, the architects created a continuity of texture that integrates the house with its related outdoor courtyards and increases the harmony garden and home.

To soften the hard brick effect throughout the home, the architects used rugs, upholstery and wall-hangings to subtly accent the brickwork in much the same way a plants and vegetation are used to soften the external brickwork.

case study house #28

With Case Study House #28, Buff and Hensman focused on creating a functional and stylish home that encouraged the marriage and harmony of external and internal spheres of family life.

By heavily permeating the consistently used brickwork with large glass windows, Case Study Home #28 invites the outside in while maintaining a comfortable and private living space that suits family life and provides a calm, stress-free atmosphere.

Photos via Modernism Rediscovered.