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.
Sandy Isenstadt is Assistant Professor of Art History at Yale University. A scholar of modern architecture, he has written on the work of Richard Neutra, Josep Lluis Sert, Leon Krier, and Rem Koolhaus. His work has been supported by the Center for Advanced Study of the Visual Arts (National Gallery of Art), the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Graham Foundation.
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.