haiku for the book "Cabin Porn"

lurking in shadows
there is something in the woods
a homemade something

I was prepared to love this book because I love the website and its politically incorrect name. However, I was underwhelmed. The book is a series of vignettes about building cabins in the boonies, including the authors' story. The primary focus of the vignettes is on do-it-yourself outdoorsmen cabin building. Between the vignettes are photos of, presumably, the authors' fave cabins from all over the world.

The vignettes are interesting but oddly dispassionate; oddly oddly dispassionate in the same style as Anais Nin's erotica (for example, see Little Birds) or a biologist describing the dissection of a field mouse. The writing thoroughly describes who and what, but doesn't sparkle. And while I know that river-bottom hardwoods are used to produce those fine glossy photo books you see and that perhaps a book about cabins in the woods shouldn't tax the woods (too much), the rough pages feel cheap and don't adequately convey the photos. There is some Modernism among the pages, but not enough for required reading for an outdoorsy Modernist.

If you want to build your own rustic cabin out in the middle of nowhere, the book may be a good buy. Otherwise, surf the site.


european (architectural) vacation: punch list

Next month we are heading to Europe to see art and architecture in France, Belgium, The Nederlands, and West Germany. The key architectural stops are various Corbusiers in Paris (Villas Savoye, La Roche, and Jeanneret), the Schoder-Rietveld House in Ultricht, and the Weissenhof in Stuttgart. Everything else is gravy sopped up along the way. If everything goes well, that groovy gravy includes Robert Mallet-Stevens, Theo von Doesburg, Adolf Loos, Henri Sauvage, Gustave Perret, Bernard Bijvoet, Hector Guimard, Victor Horta, J.J.P. Oud, Mart Stam, Willem Marinus Dudok, Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Behrens, Max Taut, Scharoun, and Bruno Taut. 


If you have any suggestions, please let us know. Here's a Google map of our plans at this point.

paris (mon, tues, wed, thurs)

A walking tour of Le Corbusiers to consider.

MUST SEE: Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye (1928-31; photo at top; the photo below is of the absolutely freaking adorable gardener's quarters): tourable; closed Mondays:

MUST SEE: Le Corbusier's Villa la Rouche and Villa Jeanneret: tourable; closed Sundays:

maybe: Robert Mallet-Stevens' Villa Poiret (1924-5): gawkable (somewhat near Villa Savoye)

maybe: Le Corbusier's Villa Stein de-Monzie (1927): gawkable

maybe: Le Corbusier's studio apartment: tourable; only open on Saturdays till 5 pm (probably won't be in Paris on a Saturday, but could make it on the 24th...)

MUST SEE: Theo von Doesburg's studio (1930): tourable by appointment

maybe: Le Corbusier's Villa Cook (1925): gawkable

MUST SEE: Rue Mallet-Stevens (1925; an amazing street of five villas by Robert Mallet-Stevens): gawkable; possibly visitable

MUST SEE: Le Corbusier's Ozenfant Studio (1922): gawkable

maybe: Swiss Pavilion (1930-1); gawkable (may be visitable)

maybe: Bijvoet's Villa de Verre (1928-32): gawkable?

MUST SEE: Adolf Loos' Villa Tristan Tzara (1926): Gawkable

maybe: Le Corbusier's Maison Planiez (1928): gawkable

maybe: Henri Sauvage's Flat at Amiraux (1922-7): gawkable

maybe: Auguste Perret'Church of Notre Dame du Raincy (1922-3): gawkable, may be vistable

paris to lille (fri)

~ 3 hour drive

lille (sat)

We'll be in Lille to visit an old friend. Not much of early-Modern architectural interest in the area except for this interesting wee bit of Art Nouveau:

maybe: Guimard's Coillet House (1898): gawkable, possibly visitable:

lille to utrecht (sun)

~2.5 hours

Because the Rietvelt-Schroeder house is closed on Mondays, we need to hightail it to Utrecht to catch the last tour of the day at ____. If we get up early enough may stop in at Brussels to see:

maybe: the Victor Horta Museum (1898-1901); tourable; 2 to 5:30 pm [yikes on the opening hours; may kill the visit...]

maybe: Victor Horta's Cauchie House (1905): gawkable

maybe: Gustave Strauven's Maison Saint-Cyr (1901-3): gawkable

MUST SEE: Rietveld-Schröder House (1924): tourable, closed Mondays, open 1100 to 1700, last tour at 1600; need reservations:

nederlands (mon)

maybe: Reitveld's Music School (1932) in Utrecht: gawkable 

MUST SEE: J.J.P. Oud's De Unie (1925) in Rotterdam: visitable (still a cafe!):

maybe: J.A. Brinkman's Sonneveld House (1933) in Rotterdam: tourable (but closed on Mondays)

maybe: G.W. Baat's Chabot Museum (1938) in Rotterdam: tourable (but closed on Mondays)

MUST SEE: J.J.P. Oud's Kiefhok (1928-30) in Rotterdam: gawkable

MUST SEE: J.J.P. Oud's Superintendant's House (1923) in Rotterdam: gawkable

maybe: Van Nelle Factory (1926-31) in Rotterdam: gawkable

maybe: J.J.P. Oud's Hotel Savoy (1923) north of The Hague: visitable

maybe: Bijvoet and Duiker's Aalsmeer House (1924): gawkable

maybe: Rietveld's Van Gogh Museum (1965): tourable (but closed on Mondays)

maybe: Rietveld's Pavilion (1965): tourable

utrecht to stuttgart (tues)

~5 hours

MUST SEE: Mies van der Rohe's Lange and Esters House (1927-30) in Krefeld, Germany: gawkable (only open for special events)

MUST SEE: Walter Gropius's Dammerstock Colony (1928-9) in Karlsruhe, Germany:

stuttgart (wed)

MUST SEE: The Weissenhof (1927): tourable 1100 to 1800

stuttgart to dijon (thurs)

~ 4.5 hours

MUST SEE: Theo von Doesburg's Aubette (1926) in Strasbourg: tourable, wed thru sat 1400 to 1800

MUST SEE (but may not be possible this time of year): Le Corbusier's Notre-Dame du Hait (1954): have to inquire from September 1st to December 31st please make enquiries at +33 3 84 20 73 27

dijon (fri)

dijon to paris (sat)

~3.5 hours

paris (sun)

paris to texas (mon)

crash (tues)



haiku for the book "Weissenhof 1927 and the Modern Movement in Architecture" by Richard Pommel and Christian F. Otto

go to Weissenhof
to see an amazing set
of Modern houses

This is a remarkable book, but not in the sense of you-need-to-rush-out-and-get-this-damn-thing-as-soon-as-possible but in the sense of where-the-hep-did-these-guys-find-so-much-information. It's clear that Germans don't throw anything away and that they protect their paperwork even during world wars.

Opened in 1927, Stuttgart's Weissenhof is the greatest single collection of early Modern architecture in the world. Chicago is great, Los Angeles is amazing, Paris is pretty in springtime, but for an individual development with nearly all the big names of the time, this is the real deal. Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Mart Stam, Walter Gropius, Scharoun, Bruno Taut, Max Taut, Behrens, J.J.P. Oud, and others contributed to the exhibition.

Mies van der Rohe was the grand architect of the project, laying out the development, recruiting and fighting for a Modern direction, and designing several of the buildings. When the housing development opened up, more than 500,000 visitors tromped through its streets to see the new architecture for themselves.

The project was a power of wills. The city wanted a humble demonstration of housing with an emphasis on local architect; Mies wanted an avant-garde display of international Modernism. Mies and the avant-garde won.

The project was not without its drama. Mies excluded Adolf Loos from the project, something Loos remained bitter about (although Loos blamed the mayor). The authors speculate that Loos' designs had become embarrassing, such as his goofy Post-Modern-before-there-was-such-a-thing-as-Post-Modern proposal for the Tribune building in Chicago. Loos was too much of a wildcard for the Weissenhof. Mies was attempting to consolidate the movement.

With many different architects designing so many different buildings, Mies needed to link the projects together visually. He did this by encouraging the use of an off-white paint for most of the surfaces with color allowed to highlight distinct parts of the architecture. And many of the architects used color to great effect. Even Gropius, recently influenced by van Doesburg's de Stijl movement, colored his work at the Weissenhof. Nevertheless, white remained the Modernists' color of choice, "...the tabular rasa reshaped only by pure form, space, structure, and function." The unifying use of white at the Weissenhof "led the way in the new direction" in the use of color (or lack thereof) in the International Style.

Besides collecting many of the best architects in a single place for public viewing and establishing white as the non-color of choice for Modernism, the Weissenhof is important for other reasons. For example, Corbusier's villas at the Weissenhof were the "pretext of the announcement" (Corbu's words) for his article "The Five Points of Architecture" (pilotis, roof garden, free plan, ribbon window, and free facade).

After the opening, people expressed concerns about the designs, particularly how open they were on the inside as well as to the outdoors, thus, in the minds of the critics,  presenting a threat to traditional family life. Detractors described the houses and apartments as anti-children because of their clean surfaces and machine-like perfection (echos of these complaints are still heard today). After the exhibition, Stuttgart debated what to do with the buildings. One prominent local stated that the Weissenhof had "produced nothing of aesthetic value". Nevertheless, the city was able to easily rent everything in short order except Corbusier's villas due to concerns that all the natural light and outdoor space would be bad for people's health. Shortly before World War II, the German army considered razing the development to build a base, but thankfully decided on another location.

Although the Weissenhof suffered damage during WWII, losing several houses, somehow the bombs missed most of the real gems such as Corbu's two villas and Scharoun's swooping house (perhaps the Gawds are Modernists as well!). Nonetheless, houses by Gropius and the Tauts were destroyed and other greatly modified. Since the war, many of the buildings have been rebuilt or remodeled back to their original plans.

I'm not sure what Mies the Man would have thought about this book, but here's what Mies the Cat thought:

There you go...

In about a month, the bride and I will be in Stuttgart to see the Weissenhof for ourselves. Expect a report back soon!

This Scharoun house is one of my top-ten early-Modern houses.

Detractors of the project produced this postcard poking fun at the Meditteranean influence on Modernism.

One of Corbu's villas