Lovell Beach House, one of the pioneering monuments to modern houses in Southern California, sits there on the corner lot in Newport Beach, still the most radically configured architecture on the block and still holding its own ground as one of the most important examples of what would later become known as California International Style.
I was there yesterday in one of very rare visits, when the house was shown to public and to architecture connoisseurs and to R. M. Schindler lovers.
If there was an architectural treat after long dry period in Southern California lately, this was it.
MAK Center and its brilliant curatorial team under the direction of Kimberli Meyer have aced in a truly rare opportunity to gain access to R. M. Schindler's 1926 Lovell Beach House as a 2011 fund raising event for the MAK Center which has done remarkable work towards, not only preserving the three of R. M. Schindler's houses; Kings Road, Mackey Apartments and Fitzpatrick-Leland House but turning them into venues for art, architecture and urbanism discourse.
The Lovell Beach House was shown by a selected historians, writers and academicians talking for ten minute installments to a group of timed visitors, some emphasizing the importance of the house, some breaking it down to its spatial and structural make up and some, like Paulette Singley, reading passages and making commentary on the early health concepts and dietary writings of the client Philip Lovell.
In her Five California Architects book, writer/historian Esther McCoy's said of Lovell Beach House;
“In the Beach House Schindler developed living space inside five free-standing concrete frames cast in the square figure eights.
The Lovell house was not primarily a drawing board solution- as was much of the work done at that time by the Constructivists in Europe”
In my opinion, if I can explain the pedigree of the house in one word, I would agree with the slight clue of Esther McCoy, the operational insertion of Russian Constructivism holds quite a truth here. Surprised, but not completely.
Since no interior photography allowed to protect the owner's privacy, I can't publish the single shot she let me, her new 'Muslim' friend. That photograph will remain in a sealed file in my computer until otherwise permitted.
However, I can only attempt to narrate Schindler's poetry of space defined by varied spatial volumes and musical play of light, which, can only be roughly translated and could never take the place of the actual lyrical experience.
The concrete skeleton of the house is a telling diagram. The main living room is a rectangular double height space into which bedroom level is cantilevered with a balcony like walkway, creating yet another clear path below with its barely head clearing height. The lowered volume here transverses the entire living room floor from the seaside balcony to back of the house where the kitchen and small dining room is located. This is on the street side to further setback and buffer the private space of the living room. But these are just the mechanical descriptions.
In architectural poetics, the living room bathes you in a beautiful California light, washes your soul and takes your thoughts into the Pacific Ocean through the large window which sets the elevation on that side. Outside is wide and open, nurturing the peaceful inner space, this is something only great architecture can bless you with and masterfully achieved as in Schindler made experience. Upon that moment, one feels why architecture is important.
Orhan Ayyüce, Los Angeles