Constance Perkins House Research Design
Discuss the interior design and/or qualities of interiority that emerged during this historical period
Empathic design | Constance Perkins House
Interior constitute three layers that are used in isolating as well as defining space, and they include floor, wall and ceiling. The Architectural history has considered interior (home) as a different aspect of the architecture design. There are several architectural history researches that have documented how the identity of an interior can change independently of the architecture structure. Architecture enters the cultural debates or discussions when it is organised as interiority. Interiority refers to a place that allocates functions such as rest, work, move and many others in a specified community. Interiority is continuously based on something with extension or something exterior.
Empathic Design in Architecture is a human-centred design method that puts into considerations the feelings of the user. It heavily involves the client throughout the entire designing process as opposed to imposing the architect’s artistic vision. This research explores empathic design as demonstrated by Richard Neutra in designing Constance Perkins House. The Constance Perkins House refers to a house that was designed by Richard Neutra, and it was constructed from 1952 to 1955 for Constance Perkins in the United States.
Understanding Empathic Design
Empathic design refers to a human-centred design method that puts into considerations the feelings of the user. The empathic design depends on the observation of the client and reduces the chances of clients providing false information, and this is because the client is involved throughout the designing process. The empathic design was used in designing Constance Perkins House. The Perkins home is one of the smaller designs of Richard Neutra and was formatted particularly for Constance Perkins and her small budget. The Perkins home is an empathetic design rather than the analytic home that tries to fill the feared void of the modernist space with the overwhelming atmosphere of the sensation. The mixing of Perkins’s projections or plans with those of Neutra’s, the home was more than space. It is essential to note from the case study that even all the projects that people think they know more often have secrets, and these secrets have to do with sexuality, the relationship of power, gender and ethnicity.
Background of Richard Neutra and Constance Perkins
Richard Neutra was an architect born in Australia; however, he moved to the USA, where he changed his citizenship. Neutra opened his architecture practice office in Los Angeles in California where he designed several private homes, naval air stations and others. He was well known for ascertaining the real needs of the customers; irrespective of the project in question, he never attempted to force his artistic vision. He believed in knowing the client as an individual and designing a space that meets the needs of the client. In addition, he used detailed questionnaires in determining the needs of the client. For instance, he requested his clients to write essays concerning their daily habits and their background, and he heavily involved the clients in making decisions. Neutral enjoyed huge success as the designer of the houses in California, and his design work was well known nationally.Constance Perkins
Constance Perkins was a single woman who preferred career over family (she was an art professor at Occidental College). Perkins at the age of thirty-nine, she had already separated herself from the family in Denver. Constance Perkins was born and grew up in a house in Denver, however, she felt confined as well as unhappy, and therefore she was determined in creating her own workplace, retreat and environment. She was determined in getting her space “as a domestic environment in which individual creativity and work, rather than family and leisure activities were the central concepts”. Constance Perkins met Richard Neutra while working as an Art historian professor at Occidental School, and it was from here where she finally asked a design of her home. As a teacher and an artist, Constance Perkins, understood and took part in the designing process. She loved art so much that she had a small assortment of favourite pieces such as reproduction of the paintings by Picasso and Matisse and other paintings from friends. She wanted to show these works of art in her home. Constance Perkins had in-depth knowledge about art history and constantly kept up with the present trends in the world through periodicals, exhibitions and books. Additionally, in her later years, she worked as a curator or custodian for the Smithsonian Institution and Pasadena Art Museum. Perkins was dedicated to exploring or discovering ways in which modern art, as well as architecture, could be adjusted to a local landscape.
Connection between Neutra and Perkins
Perkins organised a conference about Art and Architecture at Occidental College in 1952 where she invited well-known people to serve as panellists, and they included John Entenza, an editor of Arts and Architecture Magazine, Richard Neutra and Grace McCann Morley, a director of San Francisco Museum of Arts. Perkins first telephoned the office of Neutra in 1952, and they started working together. Perkins challenged Richard Neutra to design her house unusually, “as a domestic environment in which individual creativity and work, rather than family and leisure activities were the central concepts”. The designer-client relationship between Neutra and Perkins started before producing house sketches. Neutra used detailed questionnaires in determining the needs of Perkins. For instance, he requested his Perkins to write essays concerning her daily habits and her background. He heavily involved Perkins throughout the entire designing process as opposed to imposing his artistic vision.
Neutra committed himself to the project as well as to his client, even though her budget was way small. The budget of Perkins was 10,000 dollars which finally ended up using 17,000 dollars; however, the home represented her future. Through the fall as well as winter of the year 1952 to 1953, the two looked for a site, and Perkins summarised their work in her meticulous lists that helped Neutra with all the information she had collected about the sites they had all seen in Eagle Rock, near Occidental College. They finally settled on the wedge-like hillside in Pasadena in California, overlooking the San Gabriel Mountains beyond.
The attentiveness of Neutra to the site question demonstrates the priority he constantly gave to a relationship between the house and its environment. However, in the case of Perkins, he was more engaged than was his normal practice, and this might have been because of his old notions regarding her susceptibility of singleness as a woman. Furthermore, he had already decided early to design the home and his unfamiliar customer a test case that demonstrated his design theories. And these underlined the role played by perception and individual experience in the psychological reaction to the environment. Perkins and Neutra worked together from the selection of the land to the design completion design. The land that was chosen by all of them was in a mountainous region near the place where Constance Perkins was teaching as a professor of Art History. Perkins was an ideal customer for Neutra, and this is because they respected each other and reflected their shared experience and interests in the arts. Richard Neutra and Perkins identified kindred spirits in each other. The conference at Occidental College wrapped up a strong friendship as well as respect between them.
Defining the Relationship between Designer and Client
Perkins and Neutra worked together from the selection of the land to the design completion design. The designer-client relationship between Neutra and Perkins started before producing house sketches. Perkins was an ideal customer for Neutra since the project involved designing a small home and a studio for a single woman on a small budget, and this was exactly the kind of challenge that Richard Neutra embraced. Neutra utilised meticulous questionnaires in determining the needs of Perkins, and this shows how he wanted Perkins to be involved in the project throughout. For instance, he requested Perkins to write essays concerning her daily habits and her background. On the other hand, Perkins wrote letters and used her autography to communicate with Richard Neutra, and this showed their relationship that was linked to empathic design. For example, she wrote about the love she had for ‘the verdant jungle growth’ of the pacific.Design and Construction
The Perkins home is one of the smaller designs of Richard Neutra and was formatted particularly for Constance Perkins and her small budget. When Richard Neutra was designing or drawing plans for Perkins, he re-examined the single-family house and reworked the conventional patterns. The project involved designing a small home and a studio for a single woman on a small budget on the wedge-like hillside in Pasadenna in California, overlooking the San Gabriel Mountains beyond. The house was built using inexpensive materials such as plaster, glass and wood. He measured the physical measurements or dimensions of the client, and since Perkins was small physically, he scaled the home to her size or dimensions.
The L-shaped floor enabled her to entertain visitors while cooking; however, it also permitted some privacy because the living room also had her bed and studio. The cabinets of the house were placed in a manner that enabled her to see through the wall opening. In the design of her bedroom and studio, Perkins particularly requested that she needed to sleep in the same space or environment where she worked. Through her letter to Neutra, she needed the space or environment to be “open to the outdoors for I will not work when I am closed in… a single mattress, springs and frame to use. It might roll under a built-in shelf to be a couch for day use… the other major item here would be a general work table on which I also silk-screen -minimum 3’x6′- with space underneath used for storage.” Reflecting pool is the other part of the home that was drawn by Perkins herself, and the most important design of the pool is its level with reference to the floor. The reflecting pool forms a part of the house floor rather than being a distinct entity, and it is both in the outside and inside with the glass wall that separates it, and this visually joins the exterior and interior while not entirely exposing her. And this reflected what she wanted; she wanted “something relaxing and more intimate.” Additionally, Constance Perkins wanted a home she would love so much to the point of making her homesick. She wanted a home that would “free her from the memory of a domineering mother and the grief of a recently deceased father”. Richard Neutra designed a home that was sensational for Perkins to begin a new life. Perkins’ house is influential or significant in modern architecture due to its design as well as the family type that could occupy the space.
From the case study, Perkins’s home is an empathetic design rather than the analytic home that tries to fill the feared void of the modernist space with the overwhelming atmosphere of the sensation. The mixing of Perkins’s projections or plans with those of Neutra’s, the home was more than space. Designs possess the history of representing power through using strong figures such as churches and therefore, not all the designs are empathic. While several designs were made based on empathic, designs were also produced to demonstrate or show other aspects such as wealth, power, and status, artistic vision of the designer and many others, which may not often consider the feelings of the clients in the space.
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