Constructed in the early modern style of architecture, the house’s design emphasized three primary traits: honesty of materials, variable transparency of forms, and juxtaposition of “industrial” materials and fixtures with a more traditional style of home décor. The primary materials used were steel, glass, and glass block. Some of the notable “industrial” elements included rubberized floor tiles, bare steel beams, perforated metal sheet,heavy industrial light fixtures and mechanical fixtures.
|The Living Area. The steel columns are painted|
a bright orange and covered with black slate.
The design was a collaboration between Pierre Chareau (a furniture and interiors designer), Bernard Bijvoet (a Dutch architect working in Paris since 1927) and Louis Dalbet (craftsman metalworker). Much of the intricate moving scenery of the house was designed on site as the project developed. The external form is defined by translucent glass block walls, with select areas of clear glazing for transparency Internally, the division of spaces within a room can be varied by the use of sliding, folding or rotating screens in glass, sheet or perforated metal, or in combination. Some other mechanical components included an overhead trolley from the kitchen to dining room, a retracting stair from the private sitting room to Madame Dalsace’s bedroom, and complex bathroom cupboards and fittings.
The program of the home was somewhat unusual in that it included a ground-floor medical suite for Dr. Dalsace. This variable circulation pattern was provided for by a rotating screen which hid the private stairs from patients during the day but framed the stairs at night.
The first stage was to demolish the interior and underpin the upper storey with the new metal structure. The second stage was to remove the façades of the first and second storeys. However, doing so left the metal frame as the only support for the entire weight of the storey that was preserved, and thus Chareau introduced the possibility of new materials (steel, glass). By accepting the new, light, transparent materials in order to harness their expressive qualities, Chareau effectively superseded the tradition of buildings that identified enclosure and bearing walls as an insoluble whole.