Architectural Travels

When we were in LA last year we toured two houses that had long been on our wish list: the Eames House (Case Study House #8, 1949) and the Stahl House (Case Study House #22, 1960). Both houses far exceeded our expectations and reminded us what lengths owners often have to go through to get significant architecture built.

The first thing that stood out about the Eames House was its extraordinary site on a pristine 1.4 acre wooded bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean near Malibu. What?! We wracked our brains but couldn’t recall ever seeing the ocean in any picture of the Eames House. But there it was...and it was glorious. We had to laugh because we imagined that the house would be on, as Connie said, "a junky piece of land,” in keeping with the Case Study House Program’s mission to build inexpensive and efficient modern post-WWII model homes. Nope. The Eames Foundation did remind us, however, that when John Entenza purchased the land and began championing the Case Study House Program as part of Arts & Architecture Magazine there was literally nothing else around. No one wanted to live there because it was miles from LA. They were pioneers.

The second thing we noted about the Eames House was how gracious, lived-in, and comfortable the house was. We paid extra for an interior tour and it was well worth it. Did you know that nothing has been moved since Ray died in 1988? It was her wish to “freeze the house in time” and it’s extremely moving. You can still see half burnt candles, coats hanging in the closet, books stacked, pillows strewn about and the souvenirs collected from their travels thoughtfully arranged throughout the house. We were touched. The Eames House is the opposite of cold, sleek modernism.

Buck and Carlotta Stahl were also pioneers. Far from wealthy, they purchased a small lot for $13,500 (largely considered to be “unbuildable”) high above Sunset Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills. The Stahl’s envisioned a house with “breath-taking open views,” and started the arduous task of salvaging broken concrete from nearby construction sites to grade and help build-up the site. They reached out to John Entenza and the Case Study House Program, to find Pierre Koening, a like-minded architect-engineer who was not afraid to think out-of-the-box to use cantilevers and inexpensive off-the-shelf glass windows and sliding doors. 

The resulting resulting product was immortalized by Julius Shulman. Every view, everywhere you look, every picture is stunning. The city takes your breath away. Truly, it’s the most aspirational house we have ever been in. Something about the expansive views makes you think, “I can do anything I dream of.”

But it’s obvious the Stahl’s were stressed. The project was incredibly stressful. Not only did they painstakingly build up the site, but their modest construction budget of $37,500 had cost overruns and the roof leaked. The house was also very small and the children shared one of the two bedrooms. In the end, they had a falling out with Pierre Koening, who walked away from the project without his entire fee. 

Great architecture isn’t easy. It’s often arduous.

Seasonal Pricing for Gunflint Lake Cabin

We are continually analyzing and evolving here at PlansMatter, and to that end have worked with the owners of Gunflint Lake Cabin to implement “off-season” rates.  Enjoy our favorite place in Northern Minnesota for only $295/night, October through May. 

Yes!  That means you should squeeze in a road trip to almost-Canada in the next month or so.  It’s actually quite a deal, as the owners built the cabin to take advantage of the cross country ski and snowshoe trails accessible from the front door.  We highly recommend that you reserve three nights during the off-season to maximize your time in this remote location.  Oh, did we mention the sauna and wood stove?

Bruno Taut's Home + PlansMatter

One of the newest properties in our portfolio is Bruno Taut’s Home in Berlin.  It has been an absolute pleasure working with Ben Buschfeld and Katrin Lesser, the owners of Taut’s Home. Our mission to find vacation rentals that are well designed, authentic, have architectural intention and a story to tell dovetails perfectly with Katrin and Ben’s conservation ideals.

Katrin, a garden and landscape architect, frequently acts as garden monument expert for the German Federal Authority of Monument Affairs and also wrote the scientific expertise for all green and public spaces around Taut’s Horseshoe Estate. Besides that, she is the great-granddaughter of Ludwig Lesser, Berlin’s first self-employed garden garden architect who (among other projects) also joined forces with Bruno Taut and designed the "Gartenstadt Falkenberg”.  

Ben, a graphic designer specializing in cultural and contemporary history, is responsible for developing the content of the Horseshoe Estate’s museum.  He is one of the most active facilitators in the promotion of the UNESCO-World heritage "Berlin Modernism Housing Estates," acts as a member of the Deutsche Werkbund Berlin and published a book about Bruno Taut's Horseshoe Estate.  

Their commitment to preserving local heritage properties is at a museum quality level.  Taut’s Home really is a museum, but with “a groundbreaking new concept reflecting that architecture and design needs to be used.”  We couldn’t agree more!  They believe that “you can’t really evaluate a piece of design just by looking at it” and have restored Taut’s Home not just to be looked at, but lived in.  From the careful examination and documentation of Taut’s original interior paints (after all, his legendary love of color is a key feature of his architectural legacy), to the hand-picked original furnishings and made-to-measure reproductions, to recasting the magnesite kitchen flooring in keeping with traditional methods - everything is of the highest standard.  Just how we like it.


Wow. Check out these amazing tiny cabins for rent in Whitetail Woods Regional Park just outside of Minneapolis. Nicely done Steve Dwyer and HGA. It’s incredible to see this level of architecture for $75/night.   

These camper cabins are VERY popular - a handful of dates are still available in April and May, but then not again until September.  Seriously, reserve yours today.  We can’t wait to stay here!

Remind us to tell you about the time Scott was creeping through the woods at magic hour to take photos for our website…he’s a true nutter and we still hope he didn’t scare anyone.

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