Philip Johnson, Glass House, New Canaan, USA, 1949

Philip Johnson, Glass House, New Canaan, USA, 1949

Philip Johnson, Glass House, New Canaan, USA, 1949 (View from google)

The Glass House or Johnson house, built in 1949 in New Canaan, Connecticut, was designed by Philip Johnson as his own residence and weekend retreat.

For its clear proportion and geometry and its minimal structure as well as the effects of transparency and reflection it is considered an influential project for Johnson and for modern architecture. The house is an example of early use of industrial materials such as glass and steel in home design.

The cubical building is 17 x 9.8 x 3.2 m is located on Johnsons park-like estate, mostly hidden from the street and overlooking a pond.

As it follows an open concept the kitchen, dining and sleeping areas are all in one glass-enclosed room. So the interior is open with the space divided by low walnut cabinets; a brick cylinder contains the bathroom and is the only object to reach floor to ceiling.

As a result the landscape, Johnson designed around the house, becomes its “wallpaper” and the border between interior and exterior space becomes blurred. There are no closed private areas, the only shelter for the inhabitant are white curtains. This leads to the total loss of privacy and the display of the private to the public.

The house builds on ideas of German architects from the 1920s (“Glasarchitektur”). Johnson was also inspired by the design of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. Glass House contains several pieces of furniture designed by Mies.

Johnson’s estate, originally 47-acre (190,000 m2), also includes 13 Modernist structures Johnson built, including the “Brick House” (1949–1950), which serves as a guest house.











Reviewed by:

Alexandra Niedermayr, Alexandre Maurel, Martin Charachon, Sonja Schneider (March 2017)