Neutra Lofts in Los Angeles – A Recent Phenomenon

Neutra Loft

The loft phenomenon is one of the most interesting movements in contemporary life style and architecture. Its goal is to design domestic spaces in structures originally constructed for industrial uses.

Following our firm’s philosophy, we attempt to design a special category of lofts, hoping the client does not make a mistake when buying and reconstructing these spaces. Based on Bauhaus considerations and our International Style principles, we continue to apply biorealism and transform this important concept into biometabolic: the conversion of structures into practical elements of circulation zones and personal activity.

In addition, we apply the defined aspects of realness: presence, significance, materiality and emptiness (For An Architecture of Reality, Michael Benedikt, Lumen Books, 1987).

A building with presence is not apologetic, but asserts itself as architecture, having a right to be there, to take up its position as a new entity in the physical world. An object or building with presence has a shine, a sensuousness, a symmetry to it. It waits for our return. In Neutra lofts, these conditions are met by paying attention to circulation access zones and built in open spaces with contours and edges.

Significant buildings, real buildings, are achieved rather than provided. They are built over time by someone rather than arriving all but ready-made by strangers. Thus, we should not be surprised that most important lofts, and how often anonymous buildings, are provided by government and corporations, usually neglected, vandalized, or just suffered and ignored.

Materiality derives from the speed, economy and formal freedom with which walls and ceilings can be made. Be aware of ‘fake’ materials that suggest solidity and consistency of material throughout the piece. Most plastic veneers are doubly fake; they disguise not only the lack of correspondence between surface and interior, but also the nature of the material in the first place, like a decoy. In Adolf Loos’ essays, we found some practical principles: look for the thickness of the veneer, the hollowness of the gypsum-board walls, the marvel of formica marble, the freedom and power of paint.

Emptiness has a connotation of silence, clarity and transparency in the clean lines and open spaces, and surely, is the most difficult component of realness. It denotes innocence and intention.

For architecture, emptiness, implies that a building should not be a slave to its program (such as most generic programs of gentrification in Los Angeles), turning to accomodate high-income people, squirming to please affluent people, but rather should be formed according to innate principles of order, structure, shelter. It should be found beautiful and useful, like a tree. They seem ‘better’ than anything we could design from scratch, and that is why, increasingly, we like them.

The Neutra firm invites the exploration of these principles and to stamp our logo and name, our promise is infinite, it is the promise of life.

Design and Vision by Reuben A. McDavid, Associate Creative Director, Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design. 2006. All rights reserved.