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An Americanization of Bauhaus Architecture
by Dr. Oneida Cramer

Space?not mass?defines the design concept behind the geometric glass and white stucco on the new home construction just completed this year, in fact, the first AxXium custom home built south of LBJ. Circles, triangles, and rectangular windows impart a whimsical look to the front fa?ade. Yet the overall plan spans a 100 years from early 20th century European to modern American regionalism, primarily Floridian and Californian design. Here is the story.

A family decided to move into the north Dallas area because they wanted their three children to ride their bikes to school?the Dallas International School?just like the parents had done when they grew up in Germany. First, the parents located a property near the school and then, the real estate agent who handled the sale introduced the new owners to Ali A. Manteghi (principal AxXium Custom Homes) after learning about the family?s interest in Bauhaus architecture.

The Bauhaus, founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius (1883-1969), was an avant-garde art and design school in Weimar, Germany. Translated as ?house for building,? Bauhaus philosophy rejected decorative details in cornices and eaves and instead strived for the principles and clean sleek forms in Classical architecture. After the National Socialist government under Adolf Hitler closed the institution in 1933, Gropius migrated to America where there flourished the International Style, which is considered the American (International) equivalent to Bauhaus?defined in strict terms as architecture built only in Germany. However, the largest collection of Bauhaus (International Style) buildings is found in Tel Aviv. Bauhaus architecture is characterized by flat roofs, cubic shapes, smooth facades, open floor plans, and the colors white, gray, beige or black.

Only the architecture is important?nothing else?that?s what the homeowner?s like and that?s what they wanted in their Dallas home along with a big room so that they could play the classical piano.

?Everything, I design everything,? Manteghi said. ?I?ve always lived in ski resorts and mountainous areas like Colorado until I came here (Dallas). All of a sudden, I didn?t have the ocean to work with, the rivers to work with, the mountains to work with, the elevations to work with?I didn?t have anything. So, I started here that your attraction was the surrounding on the outside of the house.?

Coming up the circular drive, one sees the front door and surrounding round windows, triangular glass, and upward steps of window rectangles.

?That?s all done so there would not be a point of disappointment for negative surprise for somebody when they come inside?they have some kind of pre-notion of what they can expect,? Manteghi said. ?Once they come in, that?s more than emphasized, exaggerated even more.?

Past the gray double-front doors is an immense, 21-ft tall room with visual expansion going well beyond the perimeter because of three horizontal panels of plate glass window that make up much of the posterior bending wall. Outside the window can be seen fountains of water in the lap-sized swimming pool/sauna. A large, rectangular table defines the formal dining area in front of the window. East of the entrance, the formal living room is delineated by a black leather sofa/chair seating around the fireplace, which is see through to pique a curious notion of the study behind the wall. Above the fireplace, the white plaster wall cantilevers out into lines and curves of molding that vaguely suggest the Native American to the homeowner.

?This is almost nautical?sails,? Manteghi said. ?Everybody can get their own feeling. The designs are not rigid and definite to mean only one thing. The lights shine; especially during the evenings, they (lights) make shadows, and it creates quite a different feeling.?

A grand piano sits in a prominent place on the western side of the room, where stairs begin as steps climbing along the front windows and then seemingly disappear around the corner, like a snow-capped mountain path, into a seamless wall of solid white railing. Behind the piano is a wet bar and a sitting room/convertible to guest suite with bath. And between the dining area and piano is a wide passage to the kitchen, breakfast, and family areas?all grouped into one space.

A dropped ceiling, down to 12-ft -height, imparts a sense of coziness that is amplified by the massive stone counter-top, which defines the boundary of the kitchen space. The appliances, including the refrigerator near the counter, are surrounded by an array of geometrically designed cabinetry striking in appearance as to draw attention away from the patio view out the large panel of interior window, which follows the contour of the wall all the way past the family area and down a hallway to end in the master bedroom. Tables, large and small in a variety of sizes reside along the window to provide options in dining near the kitchen or in the family room, which is demarked by a large sofa that faces a built-in entertainment center with a plasma-TV. The family room is not the designated home theater: that is located on the second floor behind an open cove library at the very top of the living room stairs.

The library is a special place not only because it shelves all the family books in German, English, and French and provides a cozy place to read. But, standing near the railing at the top of the stairs offers a panorama into the heart of the home?a view that extends from the front entry to the patio, where pool and sauna fountains can spray a variety of water designs. And past the pool at the property edge is a small lean-to wood gazebo with an upward slanting roof that has a hole to accommodate the trunk of a red oak tree. The gazebo provides the homeowner?s favorite view of the house?the rod iron spiral staircase to the second floor playroom and the interplay of architecture and shaded reflecting glass across the pool.

?You rarely see something like this?instead, just a flat ceiling that kind of closes you in,? Manteghi said. ?This (slanted roof) makes it (gazebo) wide open and protected.?

In many respects, the gazebo reflects the contour of the home?open, yet protected?where the inside and outside blend visually into one world.

You can reach AxXium Custom Homes at 972-931-3450.

-by Dr. Oneida Cramer
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