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Gropius House Analysis Essay


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Gropius House Analysis Essay

  3. 3. Gropius House is based on a formative modernist style that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s with glass, iron and concrete for construction and the incorporation of affordable industrialized mass- produced materials were key elements of this style. It was built with the typical New England structures like field stone foundation, austere wood and stick frames, and a brick chimney. It is sheathed with white painted tongue and grove vertical siding. According to Gropius’s wife Ise Frank, the idea of a flat roof was the best way for her husband to spare himself the extra maintenance work. The basement of the house was built in stone, so it uproots a highest level of the ground level. Walter Gropius combined what he considered the traditional elements and materials of New England architecture. It incorporated —the use of wood, brick, and fieldstone with innovative materials rarely used in domestic settings at that time including industrial new laminated glass block, acoustical plaster, steel lighting sconces and chrome banisters, along with the latest available technology in mass produced fixtures especially in the bathrooms and the kitchen. Gropius used glass blocks and a floor to ceiling window to transmit natural light to this area. He installed commercial steel-plated wall sconces to provide both indirect light and dramatic shadows when lit in the evening. The floor is a resilient cork tile and the ceiling is made of acoustical plaster. Both materials are sound absorbing. They are both durable, functional, and in this setting quite surprisingly elegant. 
 Wooden slats are attached to the wall's surface to carry through the line of the windows while preserving the plaster as they act as a durable surface on which artwork could be attached.
  5. 5. Gropius House combined traditional New England building materials with innovative materials rarely used at that time. The building consists of stone foundation, vertical redwood siding wall, brick chimney and its roof was made from gravel and tar. Gropius House has a sense of immediacy and intimacy. It reflects the modern landscape design in early stage. In keeping with Bauhaus philosophy, “maximum result with minimum means”, every aspect of the house and its surrounding landscape were planned for maximum efficiency and simplicity of design. For example, a glass block wall in the building not only protects from wind and rain, yet it allows light to permeate the entry passage and the interior hall. The house consists of mostly standard components from catalogs because it emphasizes simplicity, functionality and economy. There are only two specific components in it, the exterior spotlights and tubular metal handrail of the staircase. The handrail was molded and welded in situ to meet the architect’s specifications for function and aesthetic appeal. The architect incorporated the philosophy of living in harmony with nature. The large plate glass windows have dual purpose: they minimize the barriers to the outdoor and allow passive solar gain. It also has ribbon windows and covered entrance to the kitchen, arranged in an asymmetrical composition. The Brise-Soleils of the house produce shading patterns and block solar radiation during hot summer. Every component of the Gropius House was calculated and designed to maximize efficiency. The simplicity, efficiency and the utilitarian value of the house make it an excellent example for modern residential buildings. Gropius House is an indicator of the way industrialization can change our living in future, where the lack of built-in space can mean innovation and change without compromising its function or aesthetics. References: 1. L. Carl Fiocchi, (2011). Sustaining Modernity: An Analysis of The Gropius House. Retrieved from: gropius-house 2. Anne Grady, (13th January 2000). National Historic Landmark Nomination. Retrieved from: 3. Ryan Holland, Tom Marland, (24th December 2012). Why was the Bauhaus Style so Important? Retrieved from: important.html
  7. 7. The house is designed with the Bauhaus philosophies which stated that every aspect of the house and its surrounding landscape was planned for maximum efficiency, simplicity, fluidity and practicality of design. In order to achieve fluidity and practicality, the layout of Gropius House can be divided into four areas which are the service, living, circulation and private area. All the spaces are well proportioned whereby the spaces appear to be intimate instead of being grand. On the ground floor, living room and dining room are open plan and connected without any wall partition whereby the study room is somehow seem to be connected. This is because glass brick wall is used to create a smooth transition of spaces and thus create a sense of fluidity without compromise the privacy that is needed in a study room. Next, service area which included the kitchen and maid's room are placed at the other side of the house. This is to ensure the openness of the living room and make it seem uncluttered. On the first floor, there is a roof deck which will provide great view on the beautiful environment surrounding the house. This is because the house is built on top of a small hill. To maximize the privacy, the roof deck can be accessed by guest through an external spiral staircase instead of passing through the bedrooms on the first floor. Follow on; large window openings of living room and roof deck are located at an area where they can be shaded by the big oak tree that is purposely planted there. This efficient design is to protect the two areas from being over exposed to sunlight especially during summer season and thus improve the efficiency of the house. Moreover, the emphasize of simplicity in design can be seen even in the allocation of the toilets. The toilets on both floors are aligned as this will make the mechanical works such as plumbing and sanitary work easier to be executed. Last but not least, square layout is preferred as it provides the most practical way for placing furniture. Most of the edges of the house are used to place furniture. Reference: 1) Historic New England, 2014. Gropius House (Online), Available at: (Accessed at 13/4/2014)
  9. 9. Gropius House made a great impact on American architecture. It was a combination of the traditional elements and materials of New England architecture. The design of the building was quite towards simplicity. Simplicity means the quality or condition of being plain or uncomplicated in form or design. The external façade was quite plain in design in comparison to the classic architecture. The front part façade of the house was simpler compared to the rear part façade. It gives people a sense of simplicity at the first glance of the house, when it comes to the rear part of the façade; there are more components in it. Besides, front part façade was more enclosed while the rear part of the façade was more exposed. This is to enclose privacy for the people in the house while the rear part of the façade offers a good view. Besides, the design that was added into the external façade was mainly windows. The placing of the windows on the external façade has allowed the interior of the house to gain sufficient sunlight during the day. Through the concept of simplicity, the windows are designed in a linear form. Walter Gropius screens off the entrance of the house by using glass bricks. This allows the people entering the house to not to be exposed to the sunlight during the day. It’s also an element of the external façade. Garden façade was also added into Gropius House. The purpose of this design was to create a sense of boundary between the front and the rear part of the house. The design of the garden façade was simple as to comply with the concept of the house. A staircase was also installed in the outer part of the house. It was an iconic design for the house. The additional staircase was purposely meant for his daughter. The additional of the staircase at the external façade doesn’t destroy the look of the whole house. Walter Gropius has designed it as a component of the house and couldn’t be extracted from the house. In conclusion, Walter Gropius has applied the concept of simplicity in this house, therefore, the external façade of the house was quite plain in the design and it is easy to be understood. References: 1. Oxford Dictionary. Retrieved 12th April 2014, from Oxford Dictionary website : 2. Mark Favermann (2014). The Gropius House, Historic Architecture: 1938 Bauhaus Home in Lincoln, Mass. Artes Magazine. Retrieved 12th April 2014, from Artes Magazine website : bauhaus-home-in-lincoln-mass/
  10. 10. MASSING By TAN MING LONG (0311069)
  11. 11. Massing is an important issue in designing Gropius House to illustrate the philosophies of modernism, simplicity, geometry, and aesthetics beauty determined by materials rather than applied ornamentation which introduce by Bauhaus. Gropius House is designed in solid forms and simple geometry which is a rectangular. While taking a Vernacular approach to site, the house was distinctively modern and avant-garde, with a flat roof, cubic form and angular entrance canopy. The flat roof was to allow rainwater and snow melt to drain through a center pipe to a dry well. Massing is an essential factor in passive thermal comfort and day lighting. On the north side, the facade with ribbon windows which are narrow and horizontal to minimize heat loss and it provide more privacy and an enclose feeling of the house. However, the ribbon window placed at head height to give the idea that they provide much more light than they actually do. On the south elevation, massive windows open up towards the sun, providing ample natural light into the house and subtraction volume, porch and service porch which both elements have provide a light and open impression. Gropius's mastery of light is the most inspiring part of the design which enhances the massing of the house. This is obvious from the moment one enters the building. The foyer is mainly brightened by natural light coming from the second floor. Overall, this is sort of a part in simplicity design of natural light and geometry which enrich the massing of Gropius House. The designed massing of Gropius House has highlighted the philosophies which emphasize on modernism and simplicity by Gropius in Bauhaus movement. Massing of the house has maximized the efficiency of the spatial organization, natural lighting and passive thermal comfort as well as the site context. References: 1. James. (2014, March 2). GROPIUS HOUSE. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from ARCHINEERING website: 2. Gropius House History. 2014. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from History New England website: history 3. John H. 2014. Must-Know Modern Homes: Gropius House. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from houzz website: Gropius-House