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Sandy Isenstadt examines how architects, interior designers, and landscape designers worked to enhance spatial perception in middle class houses visually. The desire for spaciousness reached its highest pitch where it was most lacking, in the small, single-family houses that came to be the cornerstone of middle class life in the nineteenth century. In direct conflict with actual dimensions, spaciousness was linked to a tension unique to the middle class - between spatial aspirations and financial limitations. Although rarely addressed in a sustained fashion by theorists, practitioners, or the inhabitants of houses themselves, Isenstadt argues that spaciousness was central to the development of modern American domestic architecture, with explicit strategies for perceiving space being pivotal to modern house design. Through professional endorsement, concern for visual space found its way into discussion of real estate and law.Read more
- Argues and supports polemical and innovative claims regarding the reception of modern architecture in the USA
- Identifies heretofore unrecognized reciprocal relations between otherwise distinct elite and popular design cultures
- Innovative in making a history of perception the engine of a history of modern architecture
- Winner (in Hardback) of the 2009 Spiro Kostof Award
Reviews & endorsements
"College-level students of architecture, design and social issues will find a fine study in The Modern American House, which considers how home designers worked to enhance spatial perception in middle-class houses."
Midwest Book ReviewSee more reviews
"The book's themes are always intriguing. With its emphasis on viewers' experience of spaciousness rather than architects creating spaciousness, the book fits into recent vernacular architecture studies that examine inhabitation as a primary influence on buildings."
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
"Isenstadt’s book shines as a model of interdisciplinary writing … His scholarly thoroughness and rhetorical openness make his work a pleasure to read and contemplate."
The American Historical Review
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- Date Published: June 2014
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107675063
- length: 344 pages
- dimensions: 251 x 175 x 20 mm
- weight: 0.82kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Introduction: spaciousness, history of a visual effect
1. The small house era
2. The production of spaciousness
3. Spacious interiors
4. Looking at landscapes
5. Glass horizons
6. 'The view it frames': a history of the picture window
7. Cultivated vistas
8. The ruler and the eye: the compensations of spaciousness
9. Conclusion: this excellent dumb discourse.
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