Saturday, December 8, 2012


Set back from the street and overlooking a generous courtyard, La Maison de Verre is removed and sheltered from the commotion of city life. Approaching the house, one must pass through the courtyard and approach a solemn but impressive facade. Made of translucent blocks of glass, the face of the building gives little indication of the spaces that lay beyond. The courtyard and iron gate over the door are the first layers one must pass upon entering the dwelling.
The spaces in La Maison de Verre are defined by layers. The skeleton of the house is made up of nothing more than two and a half floors and eleven pillars. The divisions of space inside the house are dictated not by load baring walls, but by partitions -- many of which are moveable. The furniture defines the space. Stripped of furnishings, the large two storey height living room possesses the aesthetic of a factory or artist's studio over the social space of a home. However, once the grand piano, double height bookshelves, and custom furniture are added to the room, it becomes the modern, dramatic space that Chareau designed it to be. The Dalsace's were social and hospiatable, and the living room became an important salon where many intellectual gatherings were held.

At the back of the living room is the doctor's second office, which has a sliding wall that can be fully opened, creating one large space with a view from the front of the house through to the back, or closed to conceal the office and make for a quite space.

Under the staircase leading from the first to the second floor is a cylindrical broom cupboard. Made of iron and possessing a strong structural character, the cupboard hides in plain sight. located beneath the triangular silhouette of the staircase, the two together combine to form a seemingly cubist composition. Chareau blurs the boundary between architecture and decoration as he uses furniture as much if not more than structural elements to define the space.

Above the living room is the most intimate space of the house where the families bedrooms are located. As the most private space in the house, the rooms are located at the back of the building and overlook the garden, each with access to the large terrace. The rooms are divided by metal partitions that serve to both separate the spaces as well as provide storage. The cabinets have double access from inside the rooms as well as from the hallway, allowing for the servant to stock the shelves without disturbing the family in their rooms. Even the bathrooms do not have solid walls. They are defined by metal cabinets with the character of a ship locker. They divide the space while again serving as storage.

Carla Gruber

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