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Gisela Bennati House

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Schindler's Early A-frame
Gisela Bennati house in Lake Arrowhead, CA, an early A-frame design by Rudolf Schindler

The Gisela Bennati house in Lake Arrowhead, CA, an early A-frame design by Rudolf Schindler

Photo © Diane Wilk, Michael Burch Architects
Gisela Bennati asked Rudolf Schindler to build her a cabin on a wooded lot overlooking Lake Arrowhead in California. Schindler envisioned a rustic home suitable for the mountainside setting. However, local regulations specified a more formal Normandy style. "So I carried the roof down to the ground and filled both gables with glass," Schindler said.
(Arts & Architecture magazine, vol. 71, no. 5, p. 14)

Completed in the mid-1930s, Gisela Bennati's home introduced a new approach to housing design: the dramatic yet informal A-frame style. Previously, A-frame construction had been relegated to sheds and other utilitarian buildings. Bennati's house foretold mid-century modernism with expansive windows, locally-mined stone, and open living areas with exposed diagonal rafters.

Nearly two decades passed before the A-frame form won popular attention. During the 1950s, various adaptations of the A-frame became a trendy choice for vacation homes. Schindler's contribution to the style is often overlooked.

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