WHAT IS A HOUSE FOR住宅所为何

Raphael Zuber: I’m constantly thinking of buildings I like, and since a while John Lautner and Vilanova Artigas are very present in my thoughts. Thinking of a house I would like to live in, Sheats-Goldstein Residence is the first one that comes to my mind at this moment. It’s a very grand house, but it’s also nothing else than a platform covered by a tent-like roof and a space under the platform to sleep. This represents an elemental concept of human existence.

Is there any order at all, or is it rather a hierarchy of things that come together and create a certain tension between themselves?

Many houses designed and built by Lautner follow a similar principle: one enters the building through a rather long corridor-like path, leading directly to the fireplace in the main space. This main space is usually an outside space in character and one cannot see any other buildings from there. So, entering the house, one moves from outside space to outside space - which in fact is the same space –  but by once being public and once being private, the quality of this space is radically changed. 

This change of perception creates the amazing sensation of the whole world being the house, or, to put it even more dramatically, the house being everything.

This experience is strongly emphasized by the fact that all the other rooms are usually not present in the house. They are rather used to form this transition from public into private. This also means that these rooms are often oriented towards the street, which is the most vulnerable and exposed place. But accessing them from the dense interior of the house, even there one feels very private and protected.

 In the case of Sheats-Goldstein Residence, one goes around the house and enters in its middle. The master bedroom is hidden under the platform. It is cantilevering and can be entirely opened on two sides towards the city. Contradictory qualities, like in this particular case feeling protected and exposed at the same time, I think are essential. They create an ambiguity which is not only intellectual, but also very directly experienced physically. This is thought-provoking and creative.

It doesn’t give you a clear idea of how the building looks like from outside. What quality do you see in conceiving and experiencing a building from the inside?

Sheats-Goldstein Residence is surrounded by dense vegetation and is hardly visible from the outside. 

Also, it doesn`t have any façade. This is of course the consequence of the idea of the house being everything. If the house would be an object, it would be disconnected from its surroundings. What stays in ones memory is rather a secret spot to access a constructed, fantastic world.

This is good for a house, but is it possible for other types of buildings to have this quality?

I could imagine it for every building. For example, imagine a National Parliament Building without any external physical presence! An impressive appearance is the most direct way of representation and of producing an impact, but maybe not the one that lasts longest.

What fascinates us about this house is that the connection between interior and exterior is accidental and unexpected, how do you think this interplay happens?

Approaching the main space by the entrance path, it’s hard to tell where the house starts. Already there, the border between interior and exterior is blurred. After walking a bit, suddenly one feels protected and elegant, and this is exactly the moment of finally being in the house, even though still being in that same, infinite outside space.

There are many different factors making this happen. First of all, walls and glass don’t follow the geometry of the roof and walls do not always touch the roof. Then, there are openings in the roof where one cannot see any frame of the glass and there are mirroring surfaces, including water. In contrast to the very clear initial gestures of platform and freestanding roof, the climatic border is freely composed between these two elements and sometimes even natural elements like rocks. One could call that accidental or improvised, but in fact it’s of course intentional and controlled. I would rather call it unacademic. Often when I experience architecture that is thought through so called correctly, in an academic way, I don’t feel comfortable anymore. Lautner’s houses usually have a genuine looseness which even sharpens their basic idea. 

Another aspect I like a lot about Sheats-Goldstein Residence is the fact that I think one would feel comfortable and great there both alone and with a crowd. This is very difficult to achieve!

How do you think this can happen?

I would say that such a place or space needs moments of exposure as well as moments of protection. In a rather big space with freedom to move, one might easily feel lost or have difficulties to find a place where to sit. Usually we like to sit where we feel save, close to a solid element like a column, a wall or a ceiling, and rather in the dark. In that way we might be less seen or surprised. And we like to have an open view towards a point of interest. The opposite is the stage, where we get attention and attack or seduce. In this aspect we are very much alike animals, for different actions we instinctively chose different spatial conditions.

Sheats-Goldstein Residence is one single space with an extremely well balanced variety of all possible spatial conditions. And still, it’s not just a collection or a collage of many different things. It’s a basic idea, which in its consequence and virtuosity creates a oneness containing all these qualities. I think that John Lautner as well as Frank Lloyd Wright were both masters in designing such spaces.

If you compare FLW with Lautner, what similarities and differences do you see?

An obvious difference is that Wright’s buildings usually are very carefully designed into the landscape. Lautner’s buildings often relate brutally to the landscape, do not have any façade and look ugly from outside. They are less objects in a landscape but rather create new worlds within another one. 

But both Wright and Lautner were definitely extremely inventive and radical, and both of them built a lot. In Frank Lloyd Wrights work one can see a development from rather classical ideas of space towards more and more totally independent creations. Lautner, having learned from Wright, started at a different point of course. His work, already quite early in his career, was absolutely free of any conventions or references. 

I would argue though that Wright’s houses are more elegant and cultivated than the ones designed by Lautner. At the same time, they are a bit more stubborn or formal. Even though I conceptually completely understand a hexagonal bed in a certain context, I once hardly managed to sleep in a house designed by him because I couldn’t figure out in which direction to lay myself down. I would have preferred a round bed, for example, with no direction. Lautner therefore was known for telling to his clients that he could deal with all of their requests, at least that is what I heard. One can read such an attitude in his buildings, and it seems that he really managed to strengthen the overall character and quality of his buildings by doing that, rather than compromising them. But both, Wright and Lautner, are definitely amongst the very best architects we have known.

From what you say, it doesn’t seem very intellectual, rather it’s a generous and playful response to the basic needs of a person. 

Lautner’s buildings are not like a mathematical formula with only one correct result. His buildings are usually based on ideas - like for example the idea `the house is everything` - which causally determine some very clear criteria.

But at the same time they also leave space to and require personal imagination and virtuosity of the author. I think it’s mainly the basicness of ideas on which Lautner’s buildings are based that lead to this freedom of composition and ultimately to buildings of such enormous generosity. But of course without talent and joy one could very easily fail working in that way.

 If you physically feel good, do you need to understand a house?

Anything without content is in the best case good craftsmanship. All the great things are based on a speculation or an idea. And both, speculation and idea, we can rationalize and discuss. If there isn`t anything challenging our minds, a building might get boring quite soon.

Do you think Lautner’s buildings work only in the context of rich private clients, or can they also deal with low budget situations?

The kind of architecture Lautner did is not dependent on budget or any other imposed restrictions. Rather the opposite, I think he was able to deal with any kind of circumstances. As far as I know he started out working with extremely low budgets. His first house he built for himself, and he didn’t have any money. He got a loan from a friend to buy the plot and another loan from another friend to build the house. So he went full risk. For quite a while he built houses with low budgets, sometimes on plots considered unbuildable. When potential clients didn’t have enough money to build he would recommend them to buy one of these problematic plots, for example on the rocks or by a steep slope, and invent a way of building there. These houses turned out to be quite spectacular sometimes and would attract richer clients over time. But I would argue that the quality of his architecture didn’t gain or lose by that, and I argue in general that the quality of a piece of Architecture is not related in any sense to money.

In the end his houses are also very pragmatic. If a client would have wanted a wall with windows instead of a huge glass in a specific case, do you think this is something he could have dealt with?

This is a very extreme scenario (laughing)! I am convinced he would have found a solution to almost every problem of this nature. And if not he would probably have changed the basic layout or even the idea of the house.

Still, you need to be open mentality to accept what he proposed. If we made a survey about Lautner’s work, probably 70% of the people would call it insane. 

Today, I would say that 99% would not dare to build as much out of conventions as he did! At least not in Europe. Probably this is also partly due to the American spirit, where people are used to bet on a lot of things. I am not an expert, but American Modernism dealt a lot with the new cheap technologies of prefabrication: after WW1 they needed to build a lot and fast. This, together with the fact that the USA have a thin history and tradition, definitely helped to form a more experimental and pioneering general attitude. Today this mindset is probably moving ever closer to the European one of conserving and administrating.

Going back to his own house: he obviously built it with basically no money, risking everything he had including his future, and he built it as an example. It was not as extreme as later projects, but it was uncommon for the time. Lautner himself writes that after seeing the house built, people from the neighborhood would start to get interested in his work. We are usually afraid of the unconventional, we like what we know. With this I want to say that a certain effort and willingness to risk are required to possibly create or get something exceptional!

Does a Lautner style exist?

There are certain ideas and qualities being essential to his works, and he kept developing them during his entire career. I’m thinking now for example of the connection of interior and exterior, of the relationship between public and private or of the position of the fireplace. But in terms of taste he was totally free and didn’t follow any formal language or preferences. Seeing some of his buildings, without studying them deeper, one would think they were designed by different authors. By comparing for example Sheats-Goldstein Residence to Schaffer or Harpel Residence II more carefully though, it becomes obvious that these buildings are quite similar in essence, but extremely different in visual appearance and in lifestyle. In Lautner’s work, everything not being a crucial consequence of the basic idea could completely change.

Actually, the more I’m thinking about how I would like to live, the more a certain robustness, in every sense, becomes important to me. It’s nice and generous to know that your house doesn’t need much maintenance and you don’t need to clean it too often. Or that you could even simply clean it with a hose from time to time. It’s also nice to know that one could have a party with many people and that nothing could destroy the essential qualities of the house.

The generosity you are talking about is given mainly by the dimensions of space, right?

I’m rather thinking of a generosity as a consequence of robustness, both physically as well as intellectually. Telmo Porto House by Vilanova Artigas for example is not a big house in size. But the material concrete and the directness of construction gives it the same indestructible presence that also Sheats-Goldstein Residence has. And, both houses are based on the quite simple, but grand and powerful idea of creating an infinite, private space. They are both houses that can’t be destroyed by personal taste or a slightly inappropriate proportion.

06.12.2020

拉斐尔・祖伯: 我总在思考自己喜欢的建筑,一段时间以来,约翰-劳特纳和维拉诺瓦-阿蒂加斯(Vilanova Artigas)总存在于我脑海。考虑到我愿意居住的住宅,当下第一个会浮现的是谢兹-戈尔茨坦住宅。这是一座非常宏伟的住宅,但它也不外乎是一个由类似帐篷的屋顶覆盖的平台和平台下的睡眠空间。这代表了人类生存的一种基本概念。

究竟是有什么秩序,还是说由各种事物间组成的等级制度,使得它们聚集在一起,并于其间形成了某种张力?

劳特纳设计和建造的许多房屋都遵循类似的原则:人们通过一条相当长的走廊似的路线进入建筑,直接通向主要空间的壁炉。这个主要空间通常有着一个外部空间的特征,人们从那里看不到任何其他建筑。因此,进入住宅,一个人从外部空间移动到外部空间——事实上是同一个空间——但由于一度是公共的,一度是私人的,这个空间的质量就发生了根本性的变化。这种感知的变化创造了整个世界就是这座住宅的惊人感觉,或者更夸张地说,住宅就是一切。

这种体验由于所有其他房间通常不在住宅内呈现而得到了有力的强调。它们反而被用来形成这种从公共到私密的过渡。这也意味着,这些房间通常是面向街道的,而街道是最脆弱和暴露的地方。但是,从住宅密集的室内进入这些房间,即使在那里,人们也会感到非常私密和收到保护。

就谢兹-戈尔茨坦住宅而言,人们围绕着住宅,从中间进入。主卧室隐藏在平台下。它是悬臂式的,可以完全朝向城市的两面打开。我认为矛盾的品质是至关重要的,比如在这个特殊的案例中,同时感觉到被保护和暴露。他们创造了一种模糊性,不仅是智识上的,也是非常直接的身体体验。这是发人深省和具有创造性的。

它没有给到一个清晰的概念,让你知道建筑从外面看起来是什么样的。从内部构思和体验一个建筑,你会注意到怎样的品质?

谢兹-戈尔茨坦住宅被茂密的植被所包围,从外面几乎看不到。此外,它没有任何立面。这当然是 "住宅就是一切 "这一理念的结果。如果住宅是一个物体(object),它就会与周围的环境脱节。留在人们记忆中的是一个秘密的地点,可以进入一个构建的、奇妙的世界。

这对房子来说是好的,但其他类型的建筑有可能具有这种品质吗?

我可以想象它适用于每个建筑。例如,想象一下一个没有任何外部实体存在的国家议会大厦吧!这是很重要的。令人印象深刻的外观是最直接的代表和产生影响的方式,但也许不是最持久的方式。

这座房子让我们着迷的是,室内和室外的联系是偶然的、意想不到的,你认为这种相互作用是如何发生的?

从入口处的小路走到主要空间,很难说这座住宅从哪里开始。已经在那儿了,室内和室外的边界是模糊的。走了一段路后,突然间,人们感觉到了庇护感和一种优雅,而这正是最终进入住宅的时刻,尽管仍然处于那个相同的、无限的室外空间。

有许多不同的因素使这种情况发生。首先,墙壁和玻璃并不遵循屋顶的几何形状,墙壁并不总是接触屋顶。然后,在屋顶上有一些开口,人们无法看到玻璃的任何框架,还有一些镜像的表面,包括水面。与平台和自立式屋顶非常明确的初始姿态相比,气候边界在这两个元素之间自由的构成,有时甚至是岩石等自然元素。人们可以说这是偶然的或即兴的,但事实上它当然是有意的和受控的。我宁愿称它为非学术性的。通常当我体验到那些经过所谓正确思考的建筑,以一种学术的方式,我就不再感到舒服了。劳特纳的房子通常有一种真正的松散性,这甚至使他们基本的想法更加尖锐。

我非常喜欢谢茨-戈尔茨坦住宅的另一个方面是,我认为一个人在那里无论独处的还是和一群人一起都会感觉很棒且舒适。这一点是很难做到的!

你认为这怎么可能发生呢?

我想说,这样一个地方或空间需要暴露的时刻,也需要保护的时刻。在一个相当大的自由移动的空间里,人们可能很容易感到迷失或难以找到一个可以坐下的地方。通常,我们喜欢坐在我们觉得有安全感的地方,靠近一个坚实的元素,如柱子、墙壁或天花板,而且是在黑暗中。这样我们就不会被人看到或惊讶。我们喜欢有一个开放的视野,朝向一个感兴趣的点。与此相反的是舞台,我们在那里获得关注,并进行攻击或诱惑。在这方面,我们非常类似于动物,对于不同的行动,我们本能地选择不同的空间条件。

谢茨-戈尔茨坦住宅是一个单一的空间,具有极其平衡的各种可能的空间条件。而且,它不只是许多不同事物的集合或拼贴。这是一个基本的想法,它的结果和精湛的技艺创造了一个包含所有这些品质的统一体。我认为约翰-劳特纳和弗兰克-劳埃德-赖特都是设计这种空间的大师。

如果你把赖特和劳特纳进行比较,你会发现有什么相同和不同之处?

一个明显的区别是,赖特的建筑通常是非常仔细地设计在景观中的。劳特纳的建筑通常与景观粗暴地联系在一起,没有任何外墙,从外面看很丑。他们不是景观中的物体,而是在另一个世界中创造新的世界。

但赖特和劳特纳肯定都是非常有创造力和激进的,而且他们都建造了很多。在弗兰克-劳埃德-赖特的作品中,人们可以看到从相当古典的空间理念向越来越多的完全独立创作的发展。劳特纳,在向赖特学习后,当然开始在一个不同的点上。他的作品,在他职业生涯的早期,已经完全没有任何惯例或参考。

但我想说的是,赖特的住宅比劳特纳设计的住宅更优雅,更有修养,同时,也更倔强或正式一些。尽管我在概念上完全理解在某种情况下的六边形床,但我曾经在他设计的房子里几乎无法入睡,因为我不知道该朝哪个方向躺下。我宁愿选择一张,比如圆床,没有方向。因此,劳特纳以告诉他的客户,他可以处理他们所有的要求而闻名,至少我是这样听说的。人们可以从他的建筑中读到这样的态度,而且似乎他真的能够通过这样做来加强他的建筑的整体特征和质量,而不是妥协。但是,赖特和劳特纳两人,绝对是我们所知道的最好的建筑师之列。

从你所说的情况来看,这似乎不是基于智识的,相反,它是对一个人的基本需求的慷慨和俏皮的回应。

劳特纳的建筑不像是只有一个正确结果的数学公式。他的建筑通常是基于想法——例如 "住宅就是一切 "的想法——这些想法因果地决定了一些非常明确的标准。

但与此同时,他们也为作者留下了空间,并要求作者有个人的想象力和技巧。我认为主要是劳特纳的建筑所基于的基本思想导致了这种自由的构图,并最终导致了如此慷慨的建筑。但当然,如果没有天赋和快乐,人们很容易以这种方式工作失败。

如果你对一个住宅体感良好,那还需要了解它吗?

任何没有内容的东西在最好的情况下都只是好的工艺。所有伟大的东西都是基于一种猜测或想法。而猜测和想法,我们都可以合理化并进行讨论。如果没有任何东西挑战我们的思想,建筑可能很快就会变得无聊。

你认为劳特纳的建筑只在富有的私人客户背景下发挥作用,还是也能处理低预算情况?

劳特纳所做的那种建筑并不依赖于预算或任何其他强加的限制。恰恰相反,我认为他能够处理任何种类的情况。据我所知,他一开始的工作预算极低。他的第一座住宅是为自己建造的,他没有任何钱。他从一个朋友那里贷款买了地,又从另一个朋友那里贷款建了住宅。所以他完全是在冒险。在相当长的一段时间里,他以低预算建造房屋,有时在被认为无法建造的地块上建造。当潜在客户没有足够的钱建房时,他就会建议他们购买这些有问题的地块,例如在岩石上或在陡峭的斜坡上,然后发明一种方法在那里建造。有时这些住宅会很壮观,随着时间的推移吸引来更多富有的客户。但我想说的是,他的建筑质量并没有因此而得到或失去,而且我认为一般来说,建筑作品的质量在任何意义上都与金钱无关。

最后,他的房子也是非常务实的。如果在一个特定的情况下,客户希望有一堵带窗户的墙,而不是巨大的玻璃,你认为这是他可以处理的事情吗?

这是一个非常极端的情况(笑)! 我相信他几乎会找到解决所有这种性质的问题的办法。如果没有,他很可能会改变房子的基本布局,甚至是想法。

不过,你还是需要以开放的心态来接受他的提议。如果我们对劳特纳的工作做一个调查,可能70%的人会说这是疯狂的。

今天,我要说的是,99%的人不敢像他那样跳脱常规来建造! 至少在欧洲是这样。可能这也部分是由于美国的精神,那里的人习惯于在很多事情上打赌。我不是专家,但美国的现代主义在很大程度上与新的廉价预制技术打交道:一战之后,他们需要大量快速的建造。这一点,再加上美国浅薄的历史和传统,肯定有助于形成更多的实验性和开拓性的普遍态度。今天,这种心态可能正在向欧洲的保护和管理的心态靠拢。

回到他自己的住宅:他显然是在基本上没有钱的情况下建造的,冒着他的一切包括他的未来的风险,他把它作为一个范例来建造。它不像后来的项目那样极端,但在当时是不常见的。劳特纳自己写道,看到房子建成后,附近的人就会开始对他的作品感兴趣。我们通常害怕非常规的东西,我们喜欢我们知道的东西。我想说的是,要想可能创造或得到一些特殊的东西,需要一定的努力和冒险的意愿!这就是我的观点。

存在一种劳特纳风格吗?

在他的作品中,有一些想法和品质是很关键的,而且他在整个职业生涯中不断发展。我现在想的是,例如室内和室外的联系,公共和私人之间的关系或壁炉的位置。但就品味而言,他是完全自由的,没有遵循任何形式语言或偏好。看到他的一些建筑,如果不深入研究,人们会认为它们是由不同的作者设计的。不过,通过更仔细地比较例如谢兹-戈尔茨坦住宅和谢弗住宅(Schaffer House)或哈珀尔住宅II(Harpel Residence II),就会发现这些建筑在本质上非常相似,但在视觉外观和生活方式上极其不同。在劳特纳的作品中,所有不是基本概念的重要成果的东西都可以完全改变。

事实上,我越是在考虑我想如何生活,一定的稳健性,在各种意义上,对我来说就越重要。知道你的住宅不需要太多维护,你也不需要太经常打扫,这很好,很慷慨。或者说,你甚至可以简单地不时地用水管清洗它。知道一个人可以和很多人一起开派对,而且没有什么可以破坏住宅的基本品质,这也很好。

你所说的慷慨度主要是由空间的尺寸给出的,对吗?

我更倾向于认为慷慨是稳健的结果,无论是身体上还是智识上。例如,维拉诺瓦-阿蒂加斯的泰尔莫-波尔图住宅(Telmo Porto House)在尺寸上不是一个大房子。但是,混凝土材料和建构的直接性使它具有和谢兹-戈尔茨坦住宅一样的不可摧毁的存在感。而且,这两座房子都是基于一个相当简单,但宏大而有力的想法,即创造一个无限的私人空间。它们都是不能被个人品味或稍微不合适的比例所破坏的房子。

2020126

Raphael Zuber

Raphael Zuber studied architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) and directly after opened his own office. His first building is the Schoolhouse Grono. In 2016 he completed his second one, the Apartment building in Domat/Ems. Among his important projects are the Ethnographic museum Neuchâtel, the University campus SUPSI in Mendrisio and the Funeral Chapel in Steinhausen. At the moment he is working on a Public Swimming pool in Gossau, Switzerland, which will be completed in 2026. Raphael Zuber has taught at several architecture schools including the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, the EPF Lausanne and the ETH Zurich.

www.raphaelzuber.com