MAS Context Spring Talks 2024

Naomi Pollock: The Japanese House Since 1945 | Schweikher House

March 3, 2024 at 11AM

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Presentation and book launch by architect and author Naomi Pollock about her new book The Japanese House Since 1945. The program will take place at the historic Schweikher House (645 South Meacham Road, Schaumburg, IL 60193).

Contributors

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Shigeru Ban, Paper House, Yamanashi Prefecture, 1995. Photo © Hiroyuki Hirai. Courtesy of Thames & Hudson.

Imagine a rowhouse whose courtyard separates the kitchen from the bedroom. Or a tiny, triangular tower of rooms stacked one above another. Quirky, experimental, and utterly fascinating, the houses produced in Japan since the end of World War II are among the most exceptional in the world, and they are also family homes.

During this event, architect and author Naomi Pollock will discuss The Japanese House Since 1945, a cohesive chronology of iconic Japanese houses, presenting the most compelling architect-designed homes to show developments in form, material, architectural expression, and family living over almost eight decades.

Unparalleled in their conceptual purity, many Japanese houses have become icons at home as well as abroad. Presented with clear prose and accompanied by photographs and drawings, the book features ninety-seven houses, divided among nine chapters and organized by decade. In addition to acquainting the reader with individual homes, the book illuminates the social, technological, geographic, and historical factors behind these epoch-making houses. Developments over the period are underscored by the visual presentation, as it evolves from monochrome to color and from hand-drawn to digital. Decade lead-ins set the historical context for each chapter, while “Spotlight” segments draw attention to the separate components of the Japanese house. “At Home” sections, most authored by architects and their family members, bring to life the experience of living in these unique houses.

The event will start with an introduction by Dan Fitzpatrick, Managing Director and Historian at The Schweikher House, and followed by a presentation by Naomi Pollock and a book signing. A limited amount of copies of The Japanese House Since 1945 will be available for purchase at the Schweikher House. Guests will be able to tour the historic Schweikher House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

This book examining Japanese residential architecture in detail from 1945 onwards can be said to be a realistic history of post-war Japanese society, as seen through the filter of architectural design… The chain of creativity that began in the architectural world of post-war Japan remains unbroken—this book conveys that sense of hope.”
Tadao Ando

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The Japanese House Since 1945 (Thames & Hudson, 2023).

Thanks to The Schweikher House for partnering for this program.

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Shigeru Ban, Paper House, Yamanashi Prefecture, 1995. Photo © Hiroyuki Hirai. Courtesy of Thames & Hudson.

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Shigeru Ban, Paper House, Yamanashi Prefecture, 1995. Photo © Hiroyuki Hirai. Courtesy of Thames & Hudson.

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TNA Architects, Ring House, Nagano Prefecture, 2006. Photo © Daici Ano. Courtesy of Thames & Hudson.

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TNA Architects, Ring House, Nagano Prefecture, 2006. Photo © Daici Ano. Courtesy of Thames & Hudson.

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nendo, Stairway House, Tokyo, 2019. Photo © Daici Ano. Courtesy of Thames & Hudson.

THE SCHWEIKHER HOUSE

Located on a farm field on the rural edge of Chicago’s urban energy, the Schweikher House, designed by Paul Schweikher, staked its own distinctive position in the world of Prairie School evolution, international modernism, and Wright’s yet-to-be-defined/built Usonian invention.

Ready to step out from the world of beaux-arts style of Yale, his Matcham Traveling Fellowship experiences of 1929–30 and the mentorship of David Adler’s masterful neo styles, the Schaumburg experiment was conceived at sea as Paul and his wife, Dorothy, returned from their first visit to Japan in 1937.

On his trip to Japan, he was exposed first hand to traditional wood houses. The design for his own residence was driven by Schweikher’s unique sense of scale and proportion, structural pragmatism, and passion for detail. Inspired more by the dynamic diagrams of Mies’s unbuilt brick houses than Wright’s slavish respect for the modular grid of his evolving Usonian thinking, the Schweikher House is unique for its time—midcentury Modern before such a term existed.

–Will Bruder

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Schweikher House, Schaumburg, Illinois. Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum/Hedrich Blessing Archive.

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