Sense of Place: The Eames Case Study House
Just as a good host tries to anticipate the needs of his guest, so a good architect or a designer or a city planner tries to anticipate the needs of those who will live in or use the thing being designed. - Charles Eames
The Eames House, also known as Case Study House No. 8, is a mid-century modern home located in Los Angeles. It was designed and constructed in 1949 by husband-and-wife architects Charles and Ray Eames to serve as their home and studio. As such, the modern home was thoroughly lived-in, usable and well-loved, despite its avant-garde design.
From the beginning, the Eames’ purpose was to build a house that would not destroy the nearby meadow and trees and to maximize volume from minimal materials. The result was two glass-and-steel, rectangular boxes, one of which served as a residence and the other as a working studio. Both are nestled into a hillside backed by a concrete retaining wall. The structures are aligned along a central axis, with one court between the structures and another court on the ocean-side of the house. On the studio-side, there is a space for parking. The facades are painted grids with different-sized inserts of glass (clear, translucent or wired), grey cemesto panels, stucco (off-white, blue, black and red), aluminum (silver or painted) and specially-treat panels (fold-leafed or with a photographic panel).
In contrast to the cold steel framing, the interior of the house is warm and comforting, with soft light penetrating into each room throughout the day. The Eameses were well-known for their contributions to furniture and industrial design and lined their walls with books, fabrics, folk art, shells, rocks and straw baskets. Wooden staircases floated effortlessly inside, connecting the lower and upper levels, each of which had a mezzanine balcony overlooking a large central room. The use of natural materials in the interior blended the modern home seamlessly with the outdoors, where a row of eucalyptus trees was planted at the entrance.
While many icons of the modern movement are depicted as stark and barren spaces, the Eameses approached architecture as an adventure, combining discipline with a sense of place. Their live-work lifestyle continues to be an influential model in the built environment.
Love modern homes? Check out our “7 Best Modern Homes of All Time“.