January 3, 2013
The Daphne residence for San Francisco based mortician Nicholas Daphne was designed by Craig Ellwood in 1960 and finished in 1961. Daphne being an advocate for modern architecture already commissioned buildings from Frank Lloyd Wright (which wasn’t built) and A. Quincy Jones.
The latter built Daphne’s (1968 after a fire rebuilt and in 2001 demolished) San Francisco funeral home in 1953.
The Daphe house is located in (20 Madrone Place, Hillsborough) San Francisco and marks inter alia Ellwood’s transition after fifteen years of practice to more functionalism and structuralism, simplicity and Nonsensualism 1 in his designs as propagated for example by Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth house. The strong influence Mies had on Ellwood is evident.
Following a perfect square, the house actually is U-shaped and integrates a pool into the layout. Most obvious is the chosen construction, quoting Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth house; single and double columns on the outside supporting the weight allow the implementation of a column free ground plan.
Working on these renderings was a great opprtunity to explore photographic compositions and catching the perfect sun for a warm evening mood. The use of materials is pretty much reduced to guide the attention and keep it as abstract as possible and make it look as real as necessary.
Craig Ellwood (1922-1992) participated in the Case Study House program and was one of the postwar Los Angeles architects but till today did not receive the recognition he deserves. The quality and importance of his work should be identified with architects such as Neutra, Koenig, Soriano, Killingsworth etc.
In 1977 Craig Ellwood abruptly sells his office to his associates James Tyler and Stephen Wooley and retires in Italy where he permanently lived from 1980 until his death in 1992.
For more on Craig Ellwood check out the 1964 Weekend House or look here.
1 Alfonso Perez-Mendez, “Craig Ellwood: In The Spirit Of The Time”, Editorial Gustavo Gili sa, 2002