Lines of Sight, Paths of Socialization: An Axial Line Analysis of Five Domestic Designs by Richard Neutra

By Michael Dawes and Michael J. Ostwald.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Richard Neutra, a pioneer of modern architecture, produced a famous series of house designs in California throughout the 1940s and 1950s. In this paper five of these houses are investigated to test three related facets of Neutra’s design theory; the social function of the exterior and the use of long, controlled sight-lines to shape the way space is observed and comprehended. The houses are investigated using Axial Line analysis; an established method that models the way spaces are experienced and understood through movement. The method identifies–through visual analysis and the application of graph theory mathematics–several properties of each design including visual depth, permeability and intelligibility; properties which broadly correspond to the three facets of Neutra’s theory. Through this compound process, the paper not only tests the application of these parts of Neutra’s design theory but it also develops a new reading of the relationship between form and topology in these houses.

Keywords: Space Syntax, Axial Line Analysis, Richard Neutra

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.1-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.614MB).

Michael Dawes

Research Assistant, School of Architecture and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia

Michael Dawes is a graduate architect who is currently a research assistant undertaking space syntax analysis on twentieth century houses.

Prof. Michael J. Ostwald

Dean, School of Architecture and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia

Professor Michael J. Ostwald is Dean of Architecture at the University of Newcastle, Australia and a Visiting Professor at RMIT University (Melbourne). He has a PhD in architectural history and theory and a higher doctorate (DSc) in the mathematics of design. He has lectured in Asia, Europe and North America and has written and published extensively on the relationship between architecture, philosophy and geometry. Michael Ostwald is a member of the editorial boards of the Nexus Network Journal and Architectural Theory Review and he is co-editor of the journal Architectural Design Research.