House

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From Functionalism to Regional Planning
All of the houses built by Kahn were realized in and around Philadelphia. Like the church, the city hall, or the museum, Kahn envisioned the house as an institution: the smallest architectural entity from which society and built surroundings are experienced.

House, a House, Home
Kahn’s architectural exploration of human habitation spanned four decades and involved three notions. Kahn spoke of “house” as the abstract principle or archetype of a house—timelessly valid, not only for the initial inhabitants of a space but also for all who followed. “A house,” however, refers to the individual “house” form according to the client’s requirements. In Kahn’s terminology, “home” refers to what the occupants personally make of the house.

Order and Freedom of Spaces
Kahn not only understood the house as the nucleus of a settlement or city, he was also convinced that both should be similarly conceived, comparing the floor plan of a house with the map of a city. While he developed some of his floor plans with the aid of grids, others were created in a free assembly of volumes in relation to each other, inspired by early Pilgrim settlements in New England. In his plans, Kahn did not wish to predetermine the use of each room.

Arts and Crafts
Kahn’s houses, predominantly constructed from and furnished with wood, show the influence of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. The movement had many exponents in and around Philadelphia, among them the artist and sculptor Wharton Esherick, with whom Kahn collaborated while planning the house for his niece, Margaret Esherick. Stylistically, Kahn was particularly inspired by the simplicity of Shaker furniture and interiors.