analyze paper-Russian émigré architect Igor B. Pole- vitzky ’s Birdcage House

There are two documents attached one is the paper you have to analyze and get all the information from and the other is the template how the professor wants it. You have to write 2000 words (4 pages) of summarizing every paragraph from the article.

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Abstract

This paper examines the spatial, material, and tectonic transformation of boundaries and thresholds in the Russian émigré architect Igor B. Pole- vitzky ’s Birdcage House to argue that this house was tropicalized through a blurring of boundaries between elements of architecture and landscape architecture. The Florida Tropical Home was based on the idea of spatio- 2temporally expanded thresholds between the inside and outside, creating a series of semi – open loggias. Florida architects — Marion Manley, Robert Law Weed, Igor B. Polevitzky, Rufus Nims, and Alfred Browning Parker— revolutionized the idea of the Florida Tropical Home through a disruption of the conventional distinction between boundaries and thresholds, and architecture and landscape architecture. Polevitzky’s blurring of bound- aries between the binary categories of boundaries or thresholds, architec- ture or landscape architecture, and inside or outside culminated with the design of the Heller House, popularly known as the Birdcage House, which was featured in Life magazine in 1950 and the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit Built in USA: Post-War Architecture. Polevitzky took the screened porch — the liminal space in the house between the inside and outside — and transformed it into an envelope that was wrapped around the house. This paper argues that the transformation of the boundaries and thresholds be- tween the inside and outside caused the blurring of boundaries between architecture and landscape architecture in the Birdcage House. It further argues that the Birdcage House became the discursive threshold where the divergent trajectories of postwar modernism dissolved.

The Porch as a Threshold in Between Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Vandana Baweja

Igor B. Polevitzkys Birdcage (1949) and the Florida Tropical Home

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Keywords

Birdcage House, Florida Domestic Architecture, Florida Tropical Home, Igor Polevitzky, Miami Architecture, Tropical Architecture

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Introduction

The idea of the tropical home for Florida emerged at the Homes of Tomor- row Exhibition at the 1933 Century of Progress Fair in Chicago. Robert Law Weed (1897 – 1961), a Miami based architect, designed the Florida Tropical Home for this exposition (fig. 1). The Florida Tropical Home in- augurated the proposition of a regional modern architecture for Florida, departing from the earlier Mediterranean styles that had dominated the state’s architecture. Weed’s Florida Tropical Home advanced spatiotem- porally expanded thresholds — which comprised elements of architecture and landscape architecture — to achieve a very gentle transition between the inside and outside, creating a series of semi – open loggias and ter- races that would soften and extend the transition between inside and out- side (fig. 2). This vision of the extended threshold, which also blurred the boundaries between architecture and landscape architecture, was based on the idea of enjoying and engaging the Florida tropical landscape, which was a mythic construct. The extended threshold made the Florida home distinct from northern homes, where the threshold between inside and outside was often compressed. This Florida Tropical Home at the Century of Progress exposition inaugurated the discourse on the Florida tropical modern home, which would later be developed by Florida architects — Ma- rion Manley (1893 – 1984), Robert Law Weed (1897 – 1961), Igor B. Pole- vitzky (1911 – 1978), Rufus Nims (1913 – 2005), and Alfred Browning Parker (1916 – 2011). These architects began experimenting with the threshold, which is the liminal architectural space between inside, that is the house proper in the realm of architecture; and outside, which is the site of the imagined tropical landscape. In the process, these architects transformed the conventional understanding of the threshold space of porch as an ar- chitectural element into one that was both within the domain of architec-

The Porch as a Threshold in Between Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Vandana Baweja

Igor B. Polevitzkys Birdcage (1949) and the Florida Tropical Home

Fig. 1 Plan of the Florida Tropical Home at the Homes of Tomorrow Exhibition at the Century of Progress Fair in Chicago in 1933. Architect: Robert Law Weed (1897–1961), Miami. Dra- wing by Mitchell C. Clarke based on a sketch in “Manifesto for Florida Modern Home,” Arts and Decoration 39, (June, 1933): 44.

Fig. 2 Perspective of the Florida Tropical Home at the Homes of Tomorrow Exhibition at the Century of Progress Fair in Chicago in 1933. Architect: Robert Law Weed (1897– 1961), Miami. Drawing by Mitchell C. Clarke based on a plan in “Manifesto for Florida Modern Home,” Arts and Decoration 39, (June, 1933): 44–45.

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ture and landscape architecture. The 1933 Florida Tropical Home is also a tentative attempt not only to include porches as open, yet sheltered, rooms of a house, but also to acknowledge the surrounding landscape and work toward connecting the inner rooms through porches and cantilevered roofs with the Edenic Florida landscape. This did not become a robust and revo- lutionary architectural gesture until Polevitzky’s later houses, in particular the two Heller residences, the second of which became nationally famous as the Birdcage House.

Historians argue that the Edenic imaginations of the Florida landscape were a postbellum cultural construct and the consequence of Florida’s my- thic status as a ‘ tropical’ tourist destination. Both the Florida landscape and the Florida Tropical Home — with its vanishing boundaries between inside and outside and its blurred boundaries between architecture and landscape architecture — are a product of the Edenic imagination of Flo- rida. Hannah Le Roux, a historian of tropical architecture in Africa, notes that the building boundary became the primary site of innovation and design in the African tropical architecture movement and yet this bound- ary was also the site of asymmetrical power relationships between the European imperial architects and their colonial subjects who used these tropical buildings. 1 Building on Le Roux’s work, I propose that the trans- formation of thresholds and boundaries in the imagination of the Florida Tropical Home connects the histories of Florida tropical architecture with the larger global tropical architecture movement that developed in the co- lonial tropics of the British, French, and Dutch Empires. Currently, these histories have been written in tightly bounded compartments as if there were no connections between the colonial tropical and Florida tropical ar- chitecture. Tropical architecture, as a set of sanitary spatial practices, de- veloped in the nineteenth century colonial discourses of hygiene that circu- lated along the networks of European Empires. In the second quarter of the twentieth century, European modernist architects, seeking commissions in the colonial tropics, transformed tropical architecture into a climatic design discourse and thus reconfigured tropical architecture as a strain of modernism for hot climates.

Igor Boris Polevitzky, a Russian émigré architect, arrived with his family in the United States in 1922 via Finland. The Polevitzky family was forced out of Russia during the Revolution in 1918, and eventually settled in Philadel- phia. Igor Polevitzky studied engineering and architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. 2 He designed over five hundred buildings in South Flor- ida and the Caribbean between 1934 and 1978, through which he tested the limits to which he could ‘dissolve’ the external envelop or boundary of the building. 3 Polevitzky ’s blurring of boundaries between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’ culminated with the design of the Heller House — popularly known as the Birdcage House — which was featured in Life magazine in

1 Hannah Le Roux, “Building on the Bounda- ry — Modern Architecture in the Tropics,” Social Identities 10, no. 4 (2004): 439 – 453.

2 Allan T. Shulman, “Igor Polevitzky’s Ar- chitectural Vision for a Modern Miami,” The Journal of Decorative and Propagan- da Arts 23, Florida Theme Issue (1998): 334 – 359.

3 Ibid.

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1950 and the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit Built in USA: Post-War Ar- chitecture. 4 Polevitzky took the screened porch — the liminal space in the house between the inside and outside — and transformed it into an enve- lope that was wrapped around the house. The whole house was concealed inside a giant screened porch, which redefined the relationship between inside and outside, and between architecture and landscape architecture. This paper examines how thresholds were transformed in the making of one tropical home — the Birdcage House. Allan Shulman argues that Po- levitzky appreciated the vernacular wisdom of building elements such as patios, porches, and loggias, but, instead of imitating them, he experi- mented with these elements to develop novel means of transition between the indoors and the outdoors. 5 The paper builds upon Shulman’s work to argue that the transformation of the boundaries and thresholds between the inside and the outside, and the erasure of the differentiation between architecture and landscape architecture, was definitive of tropicality in Polevitzky’s Birdcage House that captured the national imagination. The dissolution of the distinction between boundaries and thresholds resulted in a recalibration of the relationship between the inside and the outside, so the residents of the house could simultaneously inhabit the architecture of the house and spaces of landscape architecture, such as the pool deck, pat- io, terrace, and garden. The paper further argues that the Birdcage House became the discursive threshold where the divergent trajectories of post- war modernism — universalism and regionalism — dissolved, blurring the boundary between these two opposing discourses. 6

Thresholds and Boundaries

Walter Benjamin notes:

The threshold must be carefully distinguished from the boundary. A Schwelle “ threshold ” is a zone. Transformation, passage, wave action are in the word Schwellen swell, and etymology ought not to overlook these senses. On the other hand, it is necessary to keep in mind the im- mediate tectonic and ceremonial context which has brought the word to its current meaning. 7

Till Boettger notes that thresholds are spatial conditions that create open- ings in boundaries allowing for movement and transition in space. 8 This paper considers the threshold as a permeable architectural element that allows for interchange and mediation between two different spatial con- ditions that are separated by an impermeable boundary. These different spatial conditions include spaces distinguished by environmental condi- tions — for example inside and outside, and air – conditioned and non – air- conditioned; socio – cultural attributes such as public and private, formal

4 “Bird-Cage House,” Life (June 5, 1950): 63 – 65; Museum of Modern Art, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, and Arthur Drexler, Built in USA: Post-War Architecture (New York: Distributed by Simon & Schuster, 1952), 92 – 93.

5 Shulman, “Igor Polevitzky’s Architectural Vision for a Modern Miami.”

6 I am indebted to Lauren Stalder’s reading of the revolving door not only as an architec- tural threshold, but also a site where two op- posing discourses of modernism collide head on. See Laurent Stalder, “Turning Architec- ture Inside Out: Revolving Doors and Other Threshold Devices,” Journal of Design History 22, no. 1 (2009): 69 – 77.

7 Walter Benjamin and Rolf Tiedemann, The Arcades Project (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 1999), 494.

8 Till Boettger, Threshold Spaces: Transitions in Architecture Analysis and Design Tools (Ba- sel, Switzerland: Birkhäuser, 2014), 15 – 51.

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and informal, and accessible and inaccessible; and specific spatial func- tions such as sleeping, dining, living, and cooking. The transactions bet- ween the two distinct spatial environments include movement of people through thresholds such as doors, verandahs, colonnades, porches, tri- umphal arches, terraces, marquees, stairways, patios, loggias, and stoops. Besides the passage of people across a physical boundary, mediation a- cross environmental, acoustic, and visual boundaries includes flow of air, light, sound, and odor through thresholds such as doors, windows, louvers, and screens. While allowing transition, mediation, and passage through boundaries, thresholds are associated with specific symbolic meanings, rituals, and socio-cultural behavioral codes. 9 Based on their function, thresholds have distinct material, spatial, and tectonic qualities, which can determine their occupation either for a quick transition or for habitation for an extended period of time. The porch is an architectural threshold that is intended for both a quick movement from inside to outside or vice versa, and prolonged habitation.

Traditional American Porches in Domestic Architecture from Early to Mid-Twentieth Century

In a do – it – yourself pattern book on porch building titled Making and Fur- nishing Outdoor Rooms and Porches (1913) the author, Harold Donaldson, defined the porch as:

The porch, as we know it, is a peculiarly American institution […]. A porch is a porch “for a’ that,” call it what we may — piazza, veranda, loggia or what not. It is that pleasant midland country between indoors and out that we, in America, have such a blessed opportunity of using to the full extent, thanks to our usually bright skies and sunny climate. One might define a porch generically as an open or semi- open structur- al contrivance for shelter, incorporated within the lines of a building or attached to it, for the benefit of those who wish to be out – of – doors and yet would not be rained on, nor shined on, nor blown on too violently. 10

By the early twentieth century, American homes in all regions had devel- oped a variety of porches which, in addition to the transition between in- doors and outdoors, served various living functions. Thus, porches often served a dual purpose — allowing transit and habitation. When the porch was used for extended habitation or chores, it was meant to engage the landscape. Through the prolonged habitation of the porch, the landscape could be experienced for a number of different purposes — for sensory perceptions such as sight, smell, and sound; and for physiological comfort such as relief from humidity, cold, or heat, depending on how the porch was intended to create comfort.

9 Quentin Stevens, “Betwixt and Between: Building Thresholds, Liminality and Pub- lic Space,” in Loose Space: Possibility and Diversity in Urban Life, ed. Karen A. Franck and Quentin Stevens (London; New York: Routledge, 2007), 73 – 92.

10 Harold Donaldson Eberlein, Making and Furnishing Outdoor Rooms and Porches (New York: McBride, Nast & Company, 1913), 11 – 12.

Fig. 3 Pattern book plan published in 1920 in Central Lumber Company’s pattern book titled Central’s Book of Homes shows a plan that has a sun parlor on the lower level with a sleeping porch on the floor above. Drawing by Jonah A. Greenwood based on a sketch pub- lished in Central Lumber Company, Central’s Book of Homes (Reading, PA: Central Lumber Company, 1920), 2.

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The entrance porch in front of the house also served as a public sitting space in which people interacted with their neighbors. 11 In colder climates, porches also doubled as sun parlors, which could be hermetically sealed in the winter and opened in the summer. For example, the Central Lumber Company’s pattern book, Central’s Book of Homes ( 1920) shows a plan that has a sun parlor with a sleeping porch on the floor above (fig. 3). With the development of greater control over porch openings to the outside with devices such as sliding glass panels, louvered walls, and interchangeable screens, porches became usable year-round and more adaptive to the cli- mate. 12 Sleeping porches — often located on the upper level, or in the rear of the house for privacy — provided an extension to the bedrooms for sleeping outdoors and were valued in hot and humid climates where breeze was the only means for providing comfort. 13 Porches also served as semi-enclosed extensions of the kitchen and dining areas, as dining and utility porches for performing household chores. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture ’s pattern book, 4 Farmhouses for the South shows two plans of farms — one with a kitchen and dining porch and one with a utility porch for performing household chores (fig. 4 and 5). The roof over the porch ranged from fully covered with an impermeable roof for protection against rain and sun, to partially covered with a trellis or pergola, which might also have a screen. 14 Porches were either embedded within the footprint of the house, known as the “ ingrown” porch, or added to the plan, known as the “ tacked on” porch. 15 While the “ ingrown” porch is better integrated with the house, the “ tacked on” porch extends into the landscape, making it possible to inhabit the landscape.

In the South, porches held a special place in the imagination of domestic life. The hot and humid climate made porch living a necessity. In 1919, the novelist Dorothy Scarborough wrote in From a Southern Porch:

In the South, when a person plans a home, he first builds a porch, and then if he has any money left, he adds few or more rooms according to his needs, but the porch is the essential thing. 16

In the South, the usage and social meanings of the porch are attributed to its highly creolized origins that can be traced to cultural influences from Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. 17 Porches were liminal spaces, which, through inclusion and exclusion, performed the function of regulating so- cial boundaries of class, gender, and race. 18 The porch as a crossing point between the highly regulated private – inside and the unregulated public- outside was the site where social boundaries began to be spatialized. 19

Screened porches were especially prominent in the South to provide pro- tection from bugs. The screened porch was an interstitial space, suspended between the inside and the outside. In Florida, the screened porch known

11 Raymond Arsenault, “The End of the Long Hot Summer: The Air Conditioner and Southern Culture,” The Journal of Southern History 50, no. 4 (1984): 597 – 628.

12 Ethel Brostrom, How to Plan Your Porch and Patio (New York: Greenberg, 1956), 5–10.

13 Charlie Hailey, “From Sleeping Porch to Sleeping Machine: Inverting Traditions of Fresh Air in North America,” Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review 20, no. 2 (2009): 27–44.

14 Brostrom, “How to Plan Your Porch and Patio.”

15 Eberlein, “Making and Furnishing Outdoor Rooms and Porches, 31”.

16 Dorothy Scarborough, “From a Southern Porch” (New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1919), 3.

Fig. 4 Pattern book plan of a Southern Farm, plan number EX 7044, with a kitchen and dining porch. Drawing by Jonah A. Greenwood based on a plan published in United States Department of Agriculture, Ala- bama Polytechnic Institute, Extension Service, North Carolina State College, Agricultural Extension Service, Mississippi State University, and Cooperative Extension Service, 4 Farm- houses for the South (Washington, D.C.: Uni- ted States Department of Agriculture, 1950).

Fig. 5 Pattern book plan of a Southern Farm, plan number EX 7054, with a utility porch. Source: Drawing by Jonah A. Greenwood based on a plan published in United States Department of Agriculture, Alabama Poly- technic Institute, Extension Service, North Carolina State College, Agricultural Extension Service, Mississippi State University, and Co- operative Extension Service, 4 Farmhouses for the South (Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture, 1950)

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as the Florida room creates a semi-enclosed transition space between spaces of landscape architecture such as patios, steps, and decks, and inner architectural spaces of the house proper. The porch is meant for a spatiotemporal pause before proceeding to outdoor spaces of landscape architecture. The porch is connected to the garden through permeable boundaries so that the landscape can be experienced — visually (colors, flowers, greens, and birds), olfactorily (flower fragrances), and auditorially (water and bird sounds).

The porch is materially distinguished from the indoor architectural spaces and outdoor landscaped spaces through material differentiations — var- ying degrees of hardscaped and softscaped surfaces — for example, the porch may be paved with a flooring material that is not as delicate as in- door flooring materials but not as hardy and rustic as outdoor pavements. The screened porch is neither a completely formal space that is associated with the decorum of architectural usage — as seen indoors with a fixed fur- niture layout — nor is it completely free of architectural constraints. De- spite its design, materiality, spatiality, degree of enclosure, and degree of assimilation with the architecture, the porch is definitely in the domain of architecture.

The screened porch is neither completely indoors, nor completely outdoors. By virtue of the description of the outside as ‘outdoors’ and inside as ‘ in- doors,’ the door occupies a special position as a permeable threshold bet- ween the indoors and the outdoors. Georg Simmel notes that the door forms a connection between the inner space of habitation and the outside and, therefore, “ transcends the separation between the inner and the outer.” 20

The architectural spaces of the living room, dining area, or bedroom open into the screened porch, through hard thresholds — doors and windows. The porch is connected to the spaces of landscape architecture such as a pool deck, pool, and patio via thresholds such as a door, followed by a sin- gle riser or a few steps. The screened porch softens the hard thresholds of doors and windows that allow permeability between indoors and the outdoors, separated by the impermeable boundary of the wall. 21 Thus, the screened porch is a spatiotemporally extended threshold between the inside and outside at the same time. The door is occupied for a fleeting moment in the process of going indoors or outdoors. Unlike the porch, it is not a space of habitation. The porch creates a habitable space that is an inbetween space — neither indoors, nor outdoors; neither completely public, nor completely private; and neither formal, nor completely infor- mal. This “Zwischenraum,” or the “space in – between” plays a mediating role, allowing for not only just movement between the yard and the house proper, but also makes living possible between architecture and landscape architecture. 22 It is a leisure space that serves various functions — living space, barbecue area, and transition to the swimming pool. The porch

18 Ibid.

19 Christian Norberg Schulz notes that the doorstep as a threshold between inside and outside marks the transition from moving from a space that is regulated to one that is uncon- trolled. Christian Norberg-Schulz, “Existence, Space, and Architecture” (New York: Praeger, 1971).

20 Georg Simmel, “Bridge and Door,” Theory, Culture & Society 11, no. 1 (1994): 5 – 10, translated by Mark Ritter from the original, Georg Simmel, “Brücke Und Tür,” in “Brücke Und Tür; Essays Des Philosophen Zur Ge- schichte, Religion, Kunst Und Gesellschaft” (Stuttgart: K. F. Koehler, 1957).

21 Here I use Simmel’s idea of the wall as the boundary and the doors and windows that allow permeability between the inside and the outside. See Simmel, “Bridge and Door.”

17 Jocelyn Hazelwood Donlon, “Swinging in Place Porch Life in Southern Culture” (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 57 – 97.

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22 Georges Teyssot, “A Topology of Thresholds,” Home Cultures 2, no. 1 (2005): 89 – 116.

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extends the spatiotemporality of the door, making the threshold a living space — one that is not subject to the same social regulation as the space in- doors, but not completely unrestricted as the outdoors. The porch in Flor- ida tropical architecture would become a key space in the definition and development of the Florida Tropical Home.

Tropical Architecture

Tropical architecture has multiple meanings that depend on the period, context, and discipline within which the term is being used. Tropical ar- chitecture in the popular imagination might be the exotic shack on the beach, but in the discipline of architecture it refers to any of these: colonial architecture, vernacular architecture, and mid – twentieth – century modern architecture in the hot and humid colonial tropics. 23 In modernist histori- ography, tropical architecture is defined as an alternative iteration of Eu- ropean modernism that was adapted to the tropical climate and dispersed to the tropics — the colonized and decolonizing zones of the European Empires — in the postwar period. 24 As a region, the tropics are defined as zones between the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere. The tropics, also known as the Torrid Zone, include the adjacent areas on either side of the equa- tor, encompassing South East Asia, most of South Asia, North Australia, Central America, regions of South America, parts of the Middle East, and a large part of Africa.

The tropics were not only a climatic zone but an orientalist discursive con- struct produced by colonial knowledge from several disciplines including geography, anthropology, zoology, botany, medicine, and hygiene. 25 David Arnold argues that tropicality was predicated upon the notion of tropical or temperate differences, which constructed the tropics as an imaginary un- derdeveloped homogeneous zone. 26 In the late nineteenth and early twen- tieth century, tropical architecture was part of an environmental health discourse within the disciplines of hygiene, medicine, and sanitary engi- neering. From an environmental health perspective, tropical architecture was seen as an object of mediation between the body and the environment. The idea that buildings should be designed according to the tropical cli- mate to protect the body from tropical diseases was the foundational prin- ciple of tropical architecture. Consequently, the colonial hygiene manuals provided detailed specifications for tropical architecture to implement san- itary best practices through spatial layouts, construction practices, materi- als, natural ventilation, natural lighting, sewage disposal, and water supply as preventive techniques to circumvent the spread of diseases. 27

23 Gianni Invernizzi Luca Francione, “Bali Modern: The Art of Tropical Living” (Hong Kong; North Clarendon, VT: Periplus; Distributed by Tuttle Pub., 2000); Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, “Tropical Architecture in the Dry and Humid Zones”, (New York: Reinhold Pub., 1964).

24 Mark Crinson, “Modern Architecture and the End of Empire” (Aldershot, England; Bur- lington, VT: Ashgate, 2003); Anthony King, “Exporting Planning: The Colo- nial and Neo-Colonial Experience,” in “Shaping an Urban World” ed. Gordon Cherry (London: Mansell Publishing, 1980), 203 – 226; Hannah Le Roux, “The Networks of Tropical Architecture,” The Journal of Architecture 8, no. 3 (2003): 337– 354; Ola Uduku, “Moder- nist Architecture and ‘the Tropical’ in West Africa: The Tropical Architecture Movement in West Africa, 1948– 1970,” Habitat Interna- tional 30 (2006): 396 – 411; Rhodri Windsor- Liscombe, “In-Dependence: Otto Koenigs- berger and Modernist Urban Resettlement in India,” Planning Perspectives 21, no. 2 (April, 2006): 157–178; Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe, “Modernism in Late Imperial British West Africa: The Work of Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, 1946 – 1956,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 65, no. 2 (2006): 188 – 215; Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe, “The Lagos Hotel Affair: Negotiating Modernism: In the Late Colonial Domain,” DOCOMOMO Journal 28 (2003): 58 – 61.

25 Felix Driver and Brenda Yeoh, “Const- ructing the Tropics: Introduction,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 21, no. 1 (2000): 1 – 5.

26 David Arnold, “Illusory Riches”: Repre- sentations of the Tropical World, 1840 – 1950,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 21, no. 1 (2000): 6 – 18.

27 Norman Chevers, “A Treatise on Removab- le and Mitigable Causes of Death, Their Modes of Origin and Means of Prevention; Including a Sketch of Vital Statistics and the Leading Prin- ciples of Public Hygiene in Europe and India”. V. 1 (Calcutta: Bishop’s College Press, 1852); Birendra Nath Ghosh, “A Treatise on Hygiene and Public Health, with Special Reference to the Tropics” (Calcutta: Hilton, 1924); J. A. Jones, “A Manual of Hygiene, Sanitation and Sanitary Engineering: With Special References to Indian Conditions” (Madras: Printed and published by the Superintendent, Government Press, 1896); Henry King, “The Madras Manu- al of Hygiene”, (Madras: Printed by E. Keys, at the Govt. Press, 1880); John MacKenzie, “Army Health in India; Hygiene and Pathology” (London: Bale & Danielsson, 1929); W. J. Moore and Cuthbert Allan Sprawson, “Moore’s Manual of Family Medicine & Hygiene for India” (London: J. & A. Churchill, 1921); Kate Anne Platt, “The Home and Health in India and the Tropical Colonies” (London: Baillière, Tindal & Cox, 1923).

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In the inter – war period, as architectural modernism intersected with hy- giene and modernist European architects looked for opportunities to work in the colonial tropics, architects and planners increasingly began to produ- ce knowledge on tropical architecture. From the 1930s onward, European modernist architects freely amalgamated architectural modernism with colonial discourses from the fields of climatology, sanitation, and architec- ture. Subsequently, a new tropical architecture produced by modernist ar- chitects began to emerge in the 1950s. As a consequence, the disciplinary home of tropical architecture shifted from sanitary engineering to its natu- ral home with the inauguration of the department of tropical architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London in 1954. Tropical architecture as a professional practice in the colonies developed somewhat belatedly as the European Empires shrank and declined after the Second World War. While the nineteenth century discourses on trop- ical architecture were aimed at the prevention of communicable tropical diseases, the mid – twentieth century modernists stressed comfort, which was defined comprehensively in terms of thermal, hygrometric, ergonomic, acoustic, and psychological well – being. Tropical architecture thus emerged as a sub – field of environmental design and sought to create physiological comfort without using mechanical means of conditioning, or at least with minimal reliance on fossil fuels. While climate considerations became a central theme of this architecture, the disciplinary boundaries between ar- chitecture and landscape architecture were not called into question.

Existing histories, dominated by scholarship on mid-century modernist architecture in the tropics, define tropical architecture as a neo-colonial modernist discourse to maintain the imperial relationships between Eu- rope and the tropics even after decolonization. 28 In post-modernist dis- courses, post-war tropical architecture — and its American counterpart, Bio-Climatic architecture — is viewed not just as climate-responsive en- vironmental design, but as a critique of the universalizing tendencies of modernism, and as a place – making discourse that is homologous to critical regionalism. 29

The idea of tropical architecture as climatic design was well established in the Caribbean, from where it got embedded in the Floridian imagination. With the United States becoming a major influence on Cuba from 1900 onwards, a number of North American architects sought commissions in Cuba and the Caribbean. 30 In this intense cultural contact with the Car- ibbean, Floridian architects came in contact with the idea of tropical ar- chitecture as climate responsive modernism.

The declaration of a new kind of domestic architecture for Florida — the Tropical Home for Florida emerged at the Homes of Tomorrow Exhibition at the Century of Progress Fair in Chicago in 1933. Robert Law Weed, a

28 Crinson, “Modern Architecture and the End of Empire”; King, “Exporting Planning: The Colonial and Neo-Colonial Experience;” Uduku, “Modernist Architecture and ‘the Tro- pical’ in West Africa: The Tropical Architecture Movement in West Africa, 1948 – 1970.”

29 Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre, “The Suppression and Rethinking of Regionalism and Tropicalism after 1945,” in “Tropical Architecture: Critical Regionalism in the Age of Globalization”, ed. Alexander Tzonis, Bruno Stagno, and Liane Lefaivre (Chichester; New York; The Netherlands: Wiley-Academic; C. Fonds, 2001), 14 – 58.

30 José Gelabert-Navia, “American Architects in Cuba: 1900–1930,” Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts 22 (1996): 132–49.

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Miami based architect, designed the Florida Tropical Home for this expo- sition ( fig. 1). This home at the World’s Fair Homes also became an oppor- tunity for Floridian architects to declare a departure from the older Spa- nish Mediterranean styles of architecture and embrace an architecture that was informed by Southern outdoor living, emergent modernist discourses, and imagined ideas of tropicality — since Florida is really sub – tropical and temperate. Even though Florida was not really tropical, it was constructed as a tropical paradise in the popular imagination primarily through land- scape, imagery, tourism, and architecture. 31 The notion of ‘resort living’ combined architecture and landscape architecture. The Florida Tropical Home also became a national platform for broadcasting an architectural manifesto for tropical architecture and landscape architecture for Florida. A report published in 1933 in Arts and Decoration declared:

At the Chicago Fair this summer, Florida presents its architectural manifesto. It has evolved its own version of a “modern” house, adapted to the Florida climate and to the conditions of resort life. It presents, in short, a house which brings the indoors out, and the outdoors in. [Italics by the author]. In a sense, this Florida house is a manifesto for the whole subtropical world, or for any place where open-air living is the universal pattern. With honest steel and concrete construction, functional structure, simplicity, and comfort, it declares a moratorium on speculative gingerbread and fake Spanish. 32

In 1933 the Florida Tropical Home inaugurated two intertwined architec- tural trends, which would subsequently become the driving forces for several architectural innovations that followed. The first phenomenon was a series of experiments that would transform the conventional inside- outside relationships, the external envelope that is the building bounda- ry, and thresholds. The Florida Tropical Home at the Chicago exposition was surrounded by loggias and, as a consequence, was extremely open, but the plan did not subvert the conventional inside – outside relationships and thresholds (fig. 1). The second phenomenon, as Allan Shulman notes, was that in mid – twentieth century Miami, the home became the site upon which architects experimented with new tectonic and material conditions that were crucial in the formulation of Floridian Tropical Architecture. 33 The avant-garde group of architects who led these experiments were Mari- on Manley, Robert Law Weed, Igor B. Polevitzky, Rufus Nims, and Alfred Browning Parker.

The Florida Tropical Home Type in 1940

Prior to these architects ’ design of an unconventional Florida Tropical Home, the tropical home had several meanings in the popular imagina-

31 See Allan T. Shulman, “The Tropical Home: Modernity and the Construction of Authenticity,” in “Miami Modern Metropolis: Paradise and Paradox in Midcentury Architec- ture and Planning”, ed. Allan T. Shulman (Miami, Florida and Glendale, California: Bass Museum of Art, 2009), 104 – 33; and Henry Knight, “Tropic of Hopes: California, Florida, and the Selling of American Paradise”, 1869 – 1929 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013).

32 “Manifesto for Florida Modern Home,” Arts and Decoration 39 (June, 1933): 44 – 47.

33 Shulman, “The Tropical Home: Modernity and the Construction of Authenticity.”

34 H. L. Blits, “Homes of the Year” (Miami, Florida: H. L. Blits, 1940), 5, 8, 12, 29, 87, 91.

GARAGE 23’X30’

LOGGIA 19’X10’

LIVING ROOM 19X15

DINETTE 11’X13’

KITCHEN 11’X13’

PORCH 10’X7’

BEDROOM 11’X15’

BEDROOM 12’X11’

BEDROOM 13’X11’

CL

CL

CL

BA TH

BA TH

CL CL

TROPICAL COLONIAL ARCHITECT: A. L. KLINGBEEL

CL

BOOKS BOOKS

N

Fig. 6 Pattern book plan of the “Tropical Colonial” home by A. L. Klingbell. Drawing made by Kaylee M. Delhagen based on a plan published in H. L. Blits, “Homes of the Year” (Miami, Florida: H. L. Blits, 1940), 87.

Fig. 7 Pattern book plan of the “Tropical Colonial” home by John Skinner and Coulton Skinner. Drawing made by Kaylee M. Delhagen based on a plan published in: H. L. Blits, “Homes of the Year” (Miami, Florida: H.L. Blits, 1940), 5.

BEDROOM 13’X14’

CL

CL

CL

BEDROOM 13’X14’

BA TH

BA TH

BEDROOM 13’X14’

CL

CL

BA TH

ENCLOSED PORCH 8’-6”X22’

CL

HALL

LIVING ROOM 19’X24’

PORCH 10’X25’

DINING ROOM 13’X16’

KITCHEN 10’X13’

SERVANTS ROOM 10’X10’

CL

CL

LOGGIA

PANTRY BAR

ENTRY

BA TH

FRONT ENTRANCE

SERVICE ENTRY

2 CAR GARAGE 19X22

TROPICAL COLONIAL ARCHITECTS: JOHN & COULTON SKINNER

Baweja | 83

tion. In a pattern book of architect – designed homes titled Homes of the Year, published in 1940, various versions of the tropical home were pres- ented for prospective homebuilders. The tropical home types included in this book were the Tropical Colonial (two designs by A. L. Klingbell, John Skinner and Coulton Skinner), the Tropical Modern (two designs by Mont- gomery Atwater and J. Edward Peterson), the Florida Tropical (architect Curtis E. Haley), and the Tropical Bungalow (architect Robert M. Little). 34 These tropical house types were conventional in the sense that they had a clear boundary defined by a wall with predictable thresholds — doors, windows, and porches attached to the main body of the house (fig. 6 – 11). Indeed, in Polevitzky’s early homes, he used a conventional understanding of inside and outside, the external boundary and thresholds, and architec- ture and landscape architecture not too different from the houses being designed by other architects. In an unnamed house published in 1938, the wall defined the external building boundary, and the thresholds — doors, windows, and a small porch — interrupted this boundary, thus resulting in a conventional understanding of the distinction between inside and out- side, and architecture and landscape architecture (fig. 12). The porch in this house is traditional, it is a threshold that is very much part of the ar- chitecture, clearly discernable from landscape acrhietcture. Allan Shulman notes that in the 1940s Polevitzky deconstructed the “ basic rectangular house – box ” by transforming the porch in relationship to the house from a mere appendage to an all – encompassing screen that enclosed the house. 35

Polevitzky, along with the other tropicalists, developed the idea of in- door-outdoor living which he first elaborated through the Hartman Resi- dence called the “Indoor – Outdoor house,” in 1944. 36 This house achieved a gradual transition from complete indoors to complete outdoors through thresholds that comprised both architectural and landscape architectural spaces in the form of enclosed terraces and screened porches. 37 The in- door – outdoor house was designed to establish a gradual progression from architecture to landscape architecture while still keeping the two catego- ries distinct. This house was clearly based on paradisiacal notions of Flori- da landscape, thereby transforming landscape — which was subject to the outdoor hazards of bugs, heat, and humidity — into an object of consump- tion associated with sensory pleasures. The idea of the Florida landscape as a source of pleasure was based on notions of Florida as an Edenic para- dise — invented and perpetuated largely by tourist writing, literature, and images in travel ephemera. 38

In 1951, the Architectural Forum published a new tropical house type that had developed in Florida as a consequence of the experiments that began with the Florida Tropical Home in 1933. Marion Manley, Igor Polevitzky, and Alfred Parker published their recently constructed houses that were suited to the emerging ideas of indoor – outdoor living. In an article titled

LIVING ROOM 14’X18’

KITCHEN 9’X11’

BEDROOM 11’X16’

CL

BA TH

LOGGIA 11’X21’

PORTE-COCHE 12’X27’

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BEDROOM 11’X12’

TROPICAL MODERN ARCHITECT: MONTGOMERY ATWATER

Fig. 8 Pattern book plan of the “Tropical Modern” home by Montgomery Atwater. Dra- wing by Kaylee M. Delhagen based on a plan published in: H. L. Blits, “Homes of the Year” (Miami, Florida: H. L. Blits, 1940), 91.

Fig. 9 Pattern book plan of the “Tropical Modern” home by J. Edward Peterson. Dra- wing by Kaylee M. Delhagen based on a plan published in: H. L. Blits, “Homes of the Year” (Miami: H. L. Blits, 1940), 29.

Fig. 10 Pattern book plan of the “Florida Tropical” home in 1940 by architect Curtis E. Haley. Drawing by Kaylee M. Delhagen based on a plan in: H. L. Blits, “Homes of the Year” (Miami: H. L. Blits, 1940), 12.

Fig. 11 Pattern book plan of the “Tropical Bungalow” in 1940 by architect Robert M. Little. Drawing by Kaylee M. Delhagen based on a plan in: H. L. Blits, “Homes of the Year” (Miami: H. L. Blits, 1940), 8.

GARAGE 10’X18’

LAUNDRY

LIVING ROOM 13’X18’-6”

KITCHEN 8’X10’-6”

SCREENED PORCH

LI N

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TROPICAL MODERN ARCHITECT: J. EDWIN PETERSON BUILDER: PAUL R. THOMAS, MAIMI, FLORIDA

BEDROOM 10’-6”X12’

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BEDROOM 10’-6”X12’

BEDROOM 11’-6”X13’

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DINING ROOM 9’-6”X10’-6”

HALL

C LENTRY

B RANGE REF

GARAGE 10’X20’

LIVING ROOM 13’X18’

DINING ROOM 9’X13’

KITCHEN 8’X11’-6”

PORCH 8’X15’-6” BEDROOM

10’X11’-6”

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FLORIDA TROPICAL ARCHITECT: CURTIS E. HALEY BUILDER: PAUL R. THOMAS, MIAMI, FLORIDA

CL CL

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SERVICE PORCH 6’X10’

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HW CL

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TROPICAL BUNGALOW ARCHITECT: ROBERT M. LITTLE

DINING ROOM 8’X8’-6”

LIVING ROOM 11’X18’

84 | Baweja

34 H. L. Blits, “Homes of the Year” (Miami, Florida: H. L. Blits, 1940), 5, 8, 12, 29, 87, 91.

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“A New Architecture for Tropical Florida: How to Be Comfortable (Sum- mer and Winter) Despite Heat, Glare, Rains, Rot, Hurricanes, and Bugs,” Manley, Polevitzky, and Parker documented their house designs which were aimed at creating comfort, living in the landscape, and solving the challenges of sub-tropical living. The invented notions of Florida as a tro- pical paradise informed ideas of “ Florida-living,” which translated into a tropical house where the differentiation between architecture and land- scape architecture was muddled through the blurring of distinctions bet- ween boundaries and thresholds, and indoors and outdoors. The tropical house with very permeable boundaries also provided simple solutions to excessive sun, rain, hot nights, hurricanes, bugs, and rot — some of the dif- ficulties of living in Florida. 39

The solutions to all these problems, and designing a home that would ena- ble residents to live in the landscape, were proposed through a radical reconfiguration of thresholds — doors, windows, and porches. One of the most far-reaching transformations was the metamorphosis of the scree- ned porch into an element that could no longer be categorized as architec- ture or landscape architecture. The architects proposed wide overhangs to shade and cover the boundaries and thresholds of the house, use of smaller windows, and wooden louvers that enabled ventilation despite rain and sun — all with the intent of protection from the sun and the rain. Keeping the house well ventilated with large screened boundaries would protect the house from rot. The openness of the house would let hurricanes pass through. The architects utilized the Venturi principle of aero-dynamics, that is keeping large screened areas towards the side that the breeze came from, and smaller openings on the opposite wall, to let the breeze flow with some pressure through the rooms in the house. 40

Polevitzky designed two residences for Michael Heller on two adjacent lots on Biscayne Isle in Miami, between 1947 and 1949. 41 Allan Shulman notes that the first Heller House was a bold attempt in the use of a sizable screened porch to extend the living space. 42 The first Heller House had an outdoor living room constructed of an aluminum frame that was covered with a stainless steel mesh and roofed with a sliding aluminum awning. 43 The living porch in this house was radically transformed from being a mere appendage into the outdoor living room. Two elements made this trans- formation possible — its scale (19 by 30 feet) and the vanishing boundary between the indoor living room and the porch. A careful examination of the plan will show that this was a significant step in diminishing, but not fully eroding the impermeable boundary between the house proper and the outdoors (fig. 13).

Fig. 12 House designed by Igor Polevitzky and T. Trip Russell in 1938, with a conven- tional appended porch. Source: Drawing by Kathryn Feller based on a plan in: “Florida House Planned to Suit Climate and Location: Igor B. Polevitzky, T. Trip Russell, Architects,” Architectural Record 86 (1939): 49.

35 Allan T. Shulman, “Igor Polevitzky’s Bird- cage Houses,” in Miami Modern Metropolis: Paradise and Paradox in Midcentury Architec- ture and Planning, 384 – 390.

36 “Four Stages of Indoor-Outdoor living,” Architectural Record 96 (Nov. 1944): 68–69.

37 Ibid.

38 Nicole C. Cox, “Selling Seduction: Women and Feminine Nature in 1920s Florida Adver- tising,” The Florida Historical Quarterly, 89, no. 2 (2010): 186 – 209; Jack Emory Davis, and Raymond Arsenault. “Paradise Lost?: The Environmental History of Florida” (Gainesville: University of Florida, 2005); Nicolaas Mink, “Eating the Claws of Eden: Stone Crabs, Tou- rism, and the Taste of Conservation in Florida and Beyond,” The Florida Historical Quarterly 86, no. 4 (2008): 470 – 497; Anne E. Rowe, “The Idea of Florida in the American Literary Imagination” (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986).

39 “A New Architecture for Tropical Florida: How to Be Comfortable (Summer and Winter) Despite Heat, Glare, Rains, Rot, Hurricanes, and Bugs,” Architectural Forum 94 (February, 1951): 131 – 139.

40 Ibid.

41 Shulman, “Igor Polevitzky’s Birdcage Houses.”

42 Shulman, “Igor Polevitzky’s Architectural Vision for a Modern Miami.”

43 “Tropical House with Aluminum Screened Porch for Outdoor Living,” Architectural Forum 88, 40 houses: Architectural Forum’s Special House Issue, no. 14 (1948): 119.

Baweja | 85

The second Heller House by Polevitzky, which became known as the Bird- cage House, was featured in Life magazine, where it was applauded for its novelty:

On Biscayne Isle in Miami, Florida, there is a novel modern house that goes a long step beyond most of contemporary architecture efforts to “ bring the outdoors indoors.” Two thirds of the house is actually out- doors, exposed to the sun and the rain, partly roofed simply by plastic screening on a timber frame. 44

The Birdcage House was enclosed in a Lumite screen box that measured 20 by 76 feet in plan (fig. 14). 45 The box was constructed of a wooden frame structure made out of 2’ by 8’ timber members, which were pressure treated with chromated zinc chloride and left unfinished (fig. 15). 46 The Birdcage was a ingenious climate responsive solution to outdoor Florida living — the owners lived outdoors at least 360 days a year. 47 The screen provided pro- tection from bugs, the deep overhangs on the deck provided shade, and the large screened space made it possible to capture the southeast breeze — the only source of comfort without air – conditioning (fig. 16). 48

The Architectural Forum noted that:

Instead of concealing the patio inside the house, it conceals the house inside a two – story screened patio, with the whole south and west sides nothing but screen over a wooden frame. 49

TERRACE

OUTDOOR LIVING AREA 30′-0″ X 19′-0″

STUDY 13′ – 6″ X 10′

LIVING ROOM 14′ X 20′

SLEEPING 12′-4″ X 12′-8″

CAR PORT 12′-6″ X 9′-2″

K IT

C H

E N

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X 1

4 ‘- 0 ”

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POOL

Fig. 13 Plan of the first Heller House desi- gned by Igor Polevitzky in 1948. Drawing by Kathryn Feller based on a plan in “Tropical House with Aluminum Screened Porch for Outdoor Living,” Architectural Forum 88, 40 Houses: Architectural Forum’s special House issue, no. 14 (1948): 119.

44 “Bird-Cage House,” Life.

45 “Wrapped in a Plastic Screen,” House and Garden 98, (July, 1950): 52 – 57.

46 “Bird-Cage House Built inside a Screened Patio, is Tailored to a Tropical Climate,” Architectural Forum 92 (May, 1950): 138 – 141.

47 “Wrapped in a Plastic Screen.”

48 “Bird-Cage House Built inside a Screened Patio, is Tailored to a Tropical Climate.”

49 Ibid.

Fig. 14 The Birdcage House was enclosed in a Lumite screen box that measured 20 by 76 feet in plan. Architect: Igor Polevitzky, 1949. Photograph by: Rudi Rada Photography, HistoryMiami, Archives and Research Center © HistoryMiami.

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Allan Shulman notes that in the Birdcage Home Polevitzky completely dis- rupted the conventional spatial relationships between the house and porch, building and landscape, enclosure and openness, solid and void, and inside and outside. 50 In order to explain these observations on the relationships between the house and porch, architecture and landscape, and inside and outside, it is important to examine how the Birdcage House dissolved the distinctions between boundaries and thresholds. The Heller residence achieved a stronger relationship between inside and outside because the screened porch dissolves the distinction between architecture and land- scape architecture and therefore negates the idea of the landscape as out- door spaces. In addition — and in contrast to earlier examples — it achieves a stronger relationship of inner spaces with the landscape by overlaying elements that belong to the house with those belonging to the landscape.

For example, in earlier houses the stairs were added to the porch to get into the garden. In the Heller House the stairs are in the middle of the screened area so that half of this area is the elevated ‘ porch’ while the other half is already the ‘garden.’ The pool — which is regarded as an element of landscape architecture — is inside the screened area. This blurring of the boundaries between architecture and landscape architecture becomes even stronger in the Birdcage House where one pool is elevated inside the screen and a second outdoor pool is outside the screen. In addition, the trees are both inside and outside the screen, further dissolving the tradi- tional understanding of architecture and landscape architecture.

50 Shulman, “Igor Polevitzky’s Birdcage Houses.”

Fig. 15 Birdcage House. Architect: Igor Polevitzky, 1949. Photograph by: Rudi Rada photography, HistoryMiami, Archives and Research Center © HistoryMiami.

POOL

TERRACE

SCREEN

DECK 20′ X 24′

CABANA – GUEST ROOM 10′-2″ X 15′-3″

CLOS

down up

rail

ROOF OF KITCHENAWNING FOR ENTRANCE

SECOND FLOOR

LIVING ROOM 14′-8″ X 23′

BEDROOM 10′-9″ X 12′-3″bar

KITCHEN 7′-9″ X 10’

STORAGE

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LOWER PART OF POOL up

DRIVEWAY

ENTRANCE

Fig. 16 Plan of the Birdcage House. Architect: Igor Polevitzky, 1949. Drawing by Kathryn Feller based on a plan published in “Wrapped in a Plastic Screen,” House and Garden 98, July (1950): 54.

Baweja | 87

In the Birdcage House, the porch that was the traditional threshold space in domestic architecture is transformed into both a boundary and a threshold (fig. 17). In other words, the boundary and threshold conditions in the Bird- cage House became akin to a Möbius strip, where you can hope to distingu- ish between boundary and threshold, but never can. 51 The screen is an en- vironmentally permeable boundary that is wrapped around the house, and it also works as a threshold space, depending on where the person is in the house. Instead of architectural boundaries, the residents would perceive constantly changing environmental boundaries — for example, light and shade created by the movement of the sun would divide the space during the day and covered and uncovered space would create boundaries while it rained. Polevitzky rendered the topological distinction between inside and outside, and architecture and landscape architecture, ambiguous. Further, the material, tectonic, and spatial differentiation between boundaries and thresholds was transformed into an ephemeral distinction that could be perceived visually, through constantly changing conditions of daylight, and physiologically, through temperature, humidity, rain, and breeze. The dis- solution of the architectural boundary between the house and the porch meant that the screened porch, which was conventionally the threshold, now became indistinguishable from the inside, or outside.

The Birdcage House as a Discursive Threshold

The 1950s inaugurated the emergence of several environmental design treatises – Douglas Harry Kedgwin Lee’s Physiological Objectives in Hot Weather Housing: An Introduction to the Principles of Hot Weather Housing Design (1953), Jeffrey Ellis Aronin’s Climate and Architecture (1953), Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry ’s Tropical Architecture in the Humid Zone (1956), Victor Olgyay and Aladar Olgyay’s Design with Climate: Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism (1963), Givoni Baruch’s Man, Climate, and Architecture (1969), and Otto H. Koenigsberger’s Manual of Tropical Housing & Building (1975). 52 These treatises examined the relationship between vernacular architecture and climatic design within the larger field of environmental design. Architects debated the efficacy of vernacular architecture as a model of climatic design. This generated scholarship that critically examined the relationship between modern architecture and climate through the lens of the relationship between vernacular architecture and climate to define regionalism. Proponents of treating vernacular architecture as a model for modern climate responsive architecture, such as the Olgyay brothers and Koenigsberger, critiqued the universalizing tendencies of modernism, thus creating an opposition between universalist modernism and regionalism.

52 Jeffrey Ellis Aronin, “Climate and Architec- ture” (New York: Reinhold, 1953); Fry and Drew, “Tropical Architecture in the Dry and Humid Zones”; Baruch Givoni, Man, Climate, and Architecture (Amsterdam; New York: Elsevier, 1969); Otto H. Koenigsberger et al., “Manual of Tropical Housing and Building” (London: Longman, 1974); Douglas H. K. Lee, “Physiological Objectives in Hot Weather Housing: An Introduction to the Principles of Hot Weather Housing Design” (Washington: U. S. Housing and Home Finance Agency, 1953); Victor Olgyay and Aladar Olgyay, “Design with Climate: Bioclimatic Approach to Architectu- ral Regionalism” (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1963).

51 See Jay Fellows, “Janusian Thresholds: “The Horrible (and Fortuitous) Inside-Outside that Real Space is’,” Perspecta 19 (1982): 43 – 57.

88 | Baweja

Fig. 17 Isometric of the Bird Cage House. Architect: Igor Polevitzky, 1949. Drawing by Mitchell C. Clarke based on a plan published in “Bird-Cage House Built inside a Screened Patio, is Tailored to a Tropical Climate,” Architectural Forum 92, May (1950): 139.

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The Olgyay brothers proposed Bioclimatic architecture as a method of de- sign that would work synergistically with nature to produce architecture that best used the available natural resources such as natural light, sun- light, and locally available materials. 53 In the introduction to their book Design with Climate: Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Region- alism, they wrote:

The desirable procedure would be to work with, not against, the forces of nature and to make use of their potentialities to create better living conditions. The structure, which in a given environmental setting re- duces undesirable stresses, and at the same time utilizes all natural re- sources favorable to human comfort, may be called “climate balanced.” Perfect balance can scarcely be achieved except under exceptional envi- ronmental circumstances. But it is possible to achieve a house of great comfort at lowered cost through reduction of mechanical conditioning. We will do well to study the broad climate layout, then apply the find- ings, through a specific region, to a specific structure. And one must be ever alert to regional variations. 54

Likewise, Otto H. Koenigsberger (1908 – 1999) — a German émigré ar- chitect who worked for the Maharaja (king) of Mysore state and for the government of India, and later founded the Department of Tropical Ar- chitecture (1954 – 1971) at the Architectural Association School of Architec- ture — argued against universal architectural prototypes. Koenigsberger is best known for his treatise on tropical architecture, titled Manual of Tropi- cal Housing and Building, which he co – authored with his colleagues T. G. Ingersoll, Alan Mayhew, and S. V. Szokolay. Koenigsberger’s experience in Mysore and New Delhi informed his ideas on tropical architecture in Lon- don and led to the publication of the Manual of Tropical Housing and Buil- ding, which was written for architects practicing in the tropics. 55 The text addresses the problem of modernizing architecture for the fast-emerging cities in the tropics and successfully transitioning from older vernacular rural to a new urban modern architecture. The manual is an environmen- tal – design treatise that includes such topics as thermal comfort, lighting, and noise control. Koenigsberger defines the tropics in terms of three cli- mate zones — hot – dry desert, warm-humid equatorial, and monsoon — and suggests passive-design techniques such as shading, orientation, and natu- ral ventilation. Like the Olgyay brothers, he encouraged the use of passive- design methods for each climate zone by referencing the environmental design of the regional vernacular architecture. Koenigsberger’s life work was riddled with the question of how to build in the tropics, where the modernization trajectory does not replicate the cultural, technological, and economic conditions of the West. 56

54 Ibid., 10.

55 Koenigsberger et al., “Manual of Tropical Housing and Building.”

56 Ibid.

Baweja | 89

53 Olgyay, “Design with Climate: Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism”, 1 – 10.

Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre propose that debates about regiona- lism dominated the postwar architectural discourse, and critics of globali- zation of architecture such as Minnette de Silva, Richard Neutra, and Paul Rudolph, produced architecture that defied the universalizing tendencies of modernism. 57 The work of the Florida tropical architects — Marion Man- ley, Robert Law Weed, Igor B. Polevitzky, Rufus Nims, and Alfred Brow- ning Parker — served as the precursor to Paul Rudolph’s Florida houses. Rudolph became known for his climatic design through a number of hou- ses — the Revere Quality House, Walker Guest House, David and Elene Co- hen Residence, and The Cocoon House. These houses had deep roof over- hangs, open plans, sliding doors, and engaged the landscape through deep thresholds such as porches, patios, and verandas.

Allan Shulman notes that the Birdcage House exemplified the Internation- al Style through the creation of architecture as volume rather than mass, its simplicity, openness, and transparency. 58 This is where this paper de- parts from Shulman’s reading of the Birdcage House. This paper propos- es that the Birdcage House was both an exemplar of the universalizing tendencies of modernism and its opposite strain, the postwar regionalist notion of using climatic design inspired by vernacular architecture. The Birdcage House functions like a Seminole Chickee — the open stilt huts of Native American tribes located in Florida — in its minimalist solution for climate control. Further, the Chickee dissolves the distinction between threshold and boundaries — its boundary enforced by the roofline is also its threshold. It would be safe to speculate that the Seminole vernacular architecture and other Florida vernaculars such as the “ Cracker Home” influenced emerging ideas of postwar climate responsive design in Florida. In terms of the competing postwar discourses, the Birdcage House then became the discursive threshold where these opposing trajectories of post- war modernism, the universalizing and regionalizing tendencies, intersect and fuse to dissolve the boundary between these two opposing discourses.

Author

Vandana Baweja is an assistant professor in the School of Architecture at the Univer- sity of Florida Gainesville. She got her Ph. D. in history and theory of architecture at the University of Michigan in 2008. Trained as an architect in New Delhi, India, she received a masters in history and theory of architecture at the Architectural Associa- tion (AA) School of Architecture in London. She is the book reviews editor for Arris: The Journal of the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians. Her areas of research are: global histories of Tropical Architecture and Sustainable Archi-

58 Shulman, “Igor Polevitzky’s Birdcage Houses.”

90 | Baweja

57 Tzonis and Lefaivre, “The Suppression and Rethinking of Regionalism and Tropicalism after 1945.”

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tecture, and the translation of global paradigms of architecture and urbanism in India, particularly their representation in film and photography. She is a recipient of a 2015 grant from the Florida Humanities Council to organize a symposium on the histories of modernism in Florida. She also received a grant from the Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC) in 2015 to produce teaching materials on Global Cit- ies in Cinema.

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Crinson, Mark. Modern Architecture and the End of Empire Aldershot, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2003.

Davis, Jack Emory, and Raymond Arsenault. Paradise Lost?: The Environmental History of Florida. Gainesville: University of Florida, 2005.

Donlon, Jocelyn Hazelwood. Swinging in Place Porch Life in Southern Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

Driver, Felix, and Brenda Yeoh. “Constructing the Tropics: Introduction.” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 21, no. 1 (2000): 1 – 5.

Eberlein, Harold Donaldson. Making and Furnishing Outdoor Rooms and Porches. New York: McBride, Nast & Company, 1913.

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This is a list of primary and secondary textual sources used in the paper. Copy and paste sources from this list. Each source can be either a primary textual source OR a secondary textual source.

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Fellows, Jay. “Janusian Thresholds: “The Horrible (and Fortuitous) Inside-Outside That Real Space is”.” Perspecta 19, (1982): 43 – 57.

“Florida House Planned to Suit Climate and Location: Igor B. Polevitzky, T. Trip Rus- sell, Architects.” Architectural Record 86, (1939): 49 – 50.

“Four Stages of Indoor-Outdoor living,” Architectural Record 96 (November, 1944): 68 – 69.

Francione, Gianni Invernizzi Luca. Bali Modern: The Art of Tropical Living. Hong Kong; North Clarendon, VT: Periplus ; Distributed by Tuttle Pub., 2000.

Fry, Maxwell, Jane Drew. Tropical Architecture in the Dry and Humid Zones. New York: Reinhold Pub. Corp, 1964.

Gelabert-Navia, José. “American Architects in Cuba: 1900–1930.” Journal of Decora- tive and Propaganda Arts 22, (1996): 132 – 49.

Ghosh, Birendra Nath. A Treatise on Hygiene and Public Health, with Special Refer- ence to the Tropics. Calcutta: Hilton, 1924.

Givoni, Baruch. Man, Climate, and Architecture. Amsterdam; New York: Elsevier, 1969.

Hailey, Charlie. “From Sleeping Porch to Sleeping Machine: Inverting Traditions of Fresh Air in North America.” Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review 20, no. 2 (2009): 27 – 44.

Jones, J. A. A Manual of Hygiene, Sanitation and Sanitary Engineering: With Special References to Indian Conditions. Madras: Printed and published by the Superinten- dent, Government Press, 1896.

King, Anthony “Exporting Planning: The Colonial and Neo-Colonial Experience.” jn Shaping an Urban World edited by Gordon Cherry, 203–26. London: Mansell Publish- ing, 1980.

King, Henry. The Madras Manual of Hygiene. Madras: Printed by E. Keys, at the Govt. Press, 1880.

Knight, Henry. Tropic of Hopes California, Florida, and the Selling of American Para- dise, 1869 – 1929. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013.

Koenigsberger, Otto H., T. G. Ingersoll, Alan Mayhew, and S. V. Szokolay. Manual of Tropical Housing and Building. London: Longman, 1974.

Le Roux, Hannah. “Building on the Boundary—Modern Architecture in the Tropics.” Social Identities 10, no. 4 (2004): 439 – 53.

Le Roux, Hannah. “The Networks of Tropical Architecture.” The Journal of Architec- ture 8, no. 3 (2003): 337 – 54.

Lee, Douglas H. K. Physiological Objectives in Hot Weather Housing; an Introduc- tion to the Principles of Hot Weather Housing Design. Washington: U.S. Housing and Home Finance Agency, 1953.

MacKenzie, John. Army Health in India; Hygiene and Pathology. London: Bale & Danielsson, 1929.

“Manifesto for Florida Modern Home.” Arts and Decoration 39 (June,1933): 44 – 47.

Mink, Nicolaas. “Eating the Claws of Eden: Stone Crabs, Tourism, and the Taste of Conservation in Florida and Beyond.” The Florida Historical Quarterly 86, no. 4 (2008): 470 – 97.

Moore, W. J., and Cuthbert Allan Sprawson. Moore’s Manual of Family Medicine & Hygiene for India. London: J. & A. Churchill, 1921.

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Museum of Modern Art, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, and Arthur Drexler. Built in USA: Post-War Architecture. New York: Distributed by Simon & Schuster, 1952.

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Platt, Kate Anne. The Home and Health in India and the Tropical Colonies. London: Baillière, Tindal & Cox, 1923.

Rowe, Anne E. The Idea of Florida in the American Literary Imagination. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986.

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Windsor-Liscombe, Rhodri. “Modernism in Late Imperial British West Africa: The Work of Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, 1946 – 56.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 65, no. 2 (2006): 188 – 215.

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Acknowledgements

I am extremely grateful to the College of Design, Construction, and Planning; Univer- sity of Florida for a grant that supported travel to Miami for archival research at the Archives and Research Center at the History Miami Museum, Miami, Florida in July 2015. I would like to thank my colleagues Martha Kohen, professor School of Archi- tecture, University of Florida; and John Nemmers, Archivist for the Architecture Ar- chives, University of Florida; for their support with my research on the larger Florida modern project. Without Martha Kohen’s tireless initiative to establish architecture archives at the University of Florida, this project would never have been imaginable. I would like to thank Dawn Hugh, Archives Manager; and Ashley Trujillo, Archives Associate at the Archives and Research Center at the History Miami Museum, Miami, Florida. I would like express my sincere gratitude to my students—Anzhelika Arbats- kaya, Laura M. Arboleda, Daniel A. Jimenez, and Rachel Meyers, at the University of Florida for their dedicated assistance with research on this project. I would like to thank my students—Mitchell C. Clarke, Kaylee Marie Delhagen, Jonah A. Greenwood, and Kathryn Feller for their assistance with making drawings for this paper. Finally, this paper and the larger project that this paper is part of, would not have been pos- sible without the dedicated service provided by the amazing people at the Inter-library loan service at the University of Florida. I would like to thank the anonymous review- ers of this paper for their feedback. I am grateful to Ute Poerschke and Sebastian Feld- husen for being the most constructive editors that an author could wish for. Finally, I thank Stefan Rayer for his interest in my work and his constant support at every stage of this project.

Recommended Citation

Baweja, Vandana: The Porch as a Threshold in Between Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Igor B. Polevitzky’s Birdcage House (1949) and the Florida Tropical Home. In: Cloud-Cuckoo-Land, International Journal of Architectural Theory. Vol. 20, Issue 34. cloud-cuckoo.net/fileadmin/hefte_en/issue_34/article_baweja.pdf [01.01.2016], pp. 73 – 94.

 

FALL 20XX (Delete this text in red. Delete the XX write the year in which you are taking the class)

ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY PART ONE: ARC 1701 SECTION 4880

School of Architecture, University of Florida

Assignment: How to analyze a paper

 

 

Name: write your name here and delete this text in red

 

 

 

CHANGE FILE NAME TO

yourlastname_yourfirstname_analyze_paper.docx

 

 

 

The paper to be analyzed

Baweja, Vandana. “The Porch as a Threshold in Between Architecture and Landscape Architecture: Igor B. Polevitzky’s Birdcage House (1949) and the Florida Tropical Home,” Wolkenkuckucksheim | Cloud-Cuckoo-Land | Воздушный замок, (Internationale Zeitschrift zur Theorie der Architektur) International Journal of Architectural Theory, Volume 20, Number 34 (2015): 73–94.

 

 

INTENT

 

 

 

 

BUILDINGS/CITIES UNDER STUDY (Delete this text in red. Be sure to list date, place, year of construction, architect, client, and importance of the building. At least 50 words each. Keep text in black, delete text in red.)

 

1. The Florida Tropical Home:

2. Unnamed House:

3. Hartman Residence / Indoor-Outdoor House:

4. The First Heller House:

5. The Second Heller House / The Birdcage House:

 

 

ABSTRACT

(LIST key components of the abstract—central question, the argument, and the key architectural and urban sites to be analyzed.)

 

PARAGRAPH SUMMARIES

(Delete this text in red. Start word count. Keep the paragraph number and titles that end with ….)

 

Para 1: The idea of the tropical home for Florida emerged…

(Delete this text in red. Keep the paragraph number and titles in black that end with …. Write paragraph summary here)

 

Para 2: Historians argue that the Edenic imaginations….

 

Para 3: Igor Boris Polevitzky, a Russian émigré architect, arrived….

 

Para 4: Walter Benjamin notes….

 

Para 5: Till Boettger notes that thresholds are spatial conditions…..

 

Para 6: In a do – it – yourself pattern book on porch building titled….

 

Para 7: By the early twentieth century, American homes in….

 

Para 8: The entrance porch in front of the house

 

Para 9: In the South, porches held a special place….

 

Para 10: In the South, the usage and social meanings…

 

Para 11: Screened porches were especially prominent in the South…

 

Para 12: The porch is materially distinguished from ….

 

Para 13: The screened porch is neither completely indoors …

 

Para 14: Tropical architecture has multiple meanings that depend…

 

Para 15: The tropics were not only a climatic zone…

 

Para 16: In the inter-war period, as architectural modernism….

 

Para 17: Existing histories, dominated by scholarship…

 

Para 18: The idea of tropical architecture as climatic design….

 

Para 19: The declaration of a new kind of domestic…

 

Para 20: In 1933 the Florida Tropical Home inaugurated two intertwined architectural trend….

 

Para 21: Prior to these architects’ design…

 

Para 22: Polevitzky, along with the other tropicalists …

 

Para 23: In 1951, the Architectural Forum published a new tropical house type that had developed in Florida…

 

Para 24: The solutions to all these problems…

 

Para 25: Polevitzky designed two residences for Michael Heller…

 

Para 26: The second Heller House by Polevitzky….

 

Para 27: The Birdcage House was enclosed …

 

Para 28: The Architectural Forum noted that..

 

Para 29: Allan Shulman notes that in the Birdcage Home Polevitzky….

 

Para 30: For example, in earlier houses the stairs …

 

Para 31: In the Birdcage House, the porch that…

 

Para 32: The 1950s inaugurated the emergence…

 

Para 33: The Olgyay brothers proposed Bioclimatic architecture….

 

Para 34: Likewise, Otto H. Koenigsberger (1908–1999)….

 

Para 35: Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre…

 

Para 36: Allan Shulman notes that the Birdcage House….

 

 

(Delete this text in red. End word count. Word count should be at least 2000 words)

 

DELETE THIS TEXT IN RED COMPLETE THE REST OF ASSIGNMENT VIA QUIZZES

 

 

 

 

 

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