RM Schindler’s Oliver and Buck Houses, Variations on a Corner, part 4 of 5

There’s something familiar about that corner….

As I have been looking at the Oliver House front corner (Figure 1) and the way the different planes interconnect, I was reminded of another Schindler house with an interesting corner-the Buck House.  Both the Oliver and Buck Houses are examples of Schindler’s Plaster Skin buildings and they were built about the same time-the Oliver House in 1933-34 and the Buck house in 1934. Both are clearly Schindler buildings, but they are very different. The Buck House and Apartment spread out along a wide flat corner lot at street level (Figure 2), the Oliver House sits on a steep lot, angled above the street . The Buck House is more energetic, with more right angles and planes, the Oliver House is calmer.


The Buck House corner I want to look at is at the entry to the apartment (Figure 2, circled in red on the right and Figure 3). It is off to the side, away from the front door of the house and is easy to overlook.

If you look at the Oliver House (Figure 4), there are two shapes that meet at the corner (Figure 5). One, on the right, is shaped like a ‘C’ with a longer upper arm. The other, on the left, is shaped like an ‘F’ with a longer upper arm. The two longer upper arms meet at the corner to form the roof. A third piece, an inner plane (the flat plane from the previous article) extends a lower arm out to meet the lower arm of the ‘F’. The corner between the two arms of the ‘F’ is recessed into a thick mass.

The Buck House Apartment corner (Figure 6) is very similar, but with some important differences. It also has interlocking planes shaped like an ‘F’ and a ‘C’, and an inner plane that extends an arm out to the ‘F’. However, where the upper arms of the ‘F’ and ‘C’ are longer at the Oliver, the lower arms are longer at the Buck. And where the Oliver inner plane extends out a lower arm to the ‘F’, the Buck inner plane extends an upper arm to the ‘F’. The same idea, planes that interweave at a corner, but the two variations of that idea look very different.

In this case, an idea (interlocking corner planes) is modified to create different buildings. This suggests, to me, that you can have a set of pieces and rules for putting them together to create different buildings-like an Erector set, Tinkertoys or Legos 1. I will explore this idea in the next article, where I make a set of Schindler building blocks and play with them to create new buildings.

1 Erector trademark of Meccano S.N.
Lego trademark of Lego Group
Tinkertoys trademark of Hasbro

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