Modern Love: All Metal House Finds a New Home

Once far ahead of its time thanks to a use of lightweight, sustainable materials, the Aluminaire House will soon find a new home for re-installation in California, thus offering architecture and material enthusiasts the chance to visit the first ‘all-metal’ house built in the United States.

The Aluminaire House was a sensation when it was first unveiled in New York City in 1931. The house was designed in 1931 by Palm Srings architect Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher, managing editor of The Architecture Record. Disciples of the Bauhaus movement, the two designers wanted to explore the use prefabricated, ‘off the shelf’ modern material such as aluminium that at the time were very new to industry and offered the potential of low cost building. While the design of Aluminaire House took nearly 2 years, construction of the house took only 10 days.

The house, including its exterior panels and interior walls, was primarily made out of aluminium with the use of steel for chairs, floor decking and windows. Further interior finishing included pastel colour rayon wallpaper and linoleum flooring.

Upon completion in 1931, the house generated considerable curiosity in modern design and the use of materials recently introduced to the building market. This prototype never became widely built however and its modern style fell out of favour for a period of time.

Interest in Aluminaire House has recently peaked again however in light today’s strive towards more sustainable built environments with standardized components that allow for customization and prefabrication – along with a limited use of materials and resources.

In order to protect the house, it was dismantled on the site of its previous home in 2012 and has been held in storage in New York since. The idea to give it a new home was sparked by architects Michael Schwarting and Frances Campani who gave a presentation base don their long standing study of the house during Palm Springs/Modernism Week in 2014. The Aluminaire House Foundation was subsequently formed with the aim of re-assembling the house in the City of Palm Springs, directly across from the Palm Springs Art Museum and in the heart of the city where one of its designers, Albert Frey, worked throughout his illustrious career.

The small desert city of Palm Springs already has a rich history of mid-century modernist architecture and, as declared last month by the mayor, will as of next year host and a piece of modernist architecture and materials history in its heart. More information and An interview with the architect’s leading the charge can be found here.