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I was wondering if anyone had more information -- drawings, schematics -- regarding the Zoned House(s) project. The only information I could find is from An American Architecture (scans), nothing more. If anyone has more information, it'd be appreciated. (Sorry for the third scan's quality)
Alexander Chandler Block House as published in In the Nature of Materials:
Project: The Zoned House for City, Suburb and Country, 1935 as found in Monograph 5. Here is Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer's text:
When he made these three designs for what he called "The Zoned House," Mr. Wright explained the project accordingly:
"New facilities make it desirable to lay aside the provincial American parlor. A beautiful kitchen should now go where the parlor went some time ago. With modern appurtenances what used to be the kitchen can now become a high spacious work studio opening level with the garden, therefore, a natural get-together place in which to live while at work. In a zoned plan the utility stack has, economically standardized and concentrated within it, all appurtenances of modern house construction: oil burning boiler and fuel tanks - air compressors, oil and gasoline supply for car, heating and air conditioning units, electric wiring and plumbing, vent and smoke flues. This enlarged hollow chimney - about 6 by 8 feet on the ground - is accessible from the coat-room and so placed that only one short run of horizontal pipe or wire to the study is necessary. Each bathroom is a one-piece standardized fixture directly connected to the stack. Kitchen sink, ranges and refrigeration, likewise. Here at the nexus of the arrangement is complete standardized factory production, in lieu of the wasteful, [angleci web of" wires ancl piping involved in the construction of the ordinary dwelling at present. Thus the cost of about one third of the usual home is here seen as reduced to a certainty, and one half or one third of the cost is potentially saved.
"The carport, integral feature of the dwelling, is convenient, not the gaping hole it usually is. Other features of the zoned house are the utilities stack; the development of the kitchen into the real living room, completely furnished, part of the whole; and the segregated space called the study. A third zone -- the slumber zone -- is introduced as mezzanine with balcony opening into the living kitchen or work room. While the children are young, each has a dressing room and sleeps out. When they grow up, by a few simple changes in the mezzanine each has a private room. Here are self-contained economies for the family, more natural and more orderly than is possible at present.
"This germ-plan would easily adapt itself, as indicated, to the several conditions of the small house in suburb, town and country. The suburban house is shown lighted largely from above - to avoid the more or less indecent exposure most suburban houses suffer from when they try to be little country houses on lots 50 feet wide. The town house is tall, all rooms having high ceilings. The entire house is hermetically sealed from dirt and noise and air-conditioned, with opportunity to go out to view the passing show on occasions, but only when moved; also opportunity to live outside, up top where greenery can see the sky. The utility stack and bathrooms, work room, segregated study and segregated slumber rooms of this town house all keep to the underlying scheme of the suburban house.
"The country house has the same scheme too. Its outer walls are mostly metal and glass screens and the plan is opened wide to sun, air and vista. A spreading good-time place is possible in country life."
Note that this sheet has a portion at the top which is to be read "from the opposite side of the table," as it were. I have reproduced that portion below, as Plate 255 (rotated). But first, an enlargement of the bottom right portion, followed by a separate plate of the same subject:
Plate 255, detail 1
Plate 255 (rotated) (detail)
Plate 255 detail 2
Plate 256 detail
This housing project for Los Angeles, a large group of 100 homes on hillside sites, was designed in 1937 using a system of sheet metal, steel, prefabrication created by the architect to render the entire cost more moderate. Throughout his life he was continually developing systems of building, with the prefabricated houses of 1915-1917 called the American Ready-Cut System, again in the twenties with the textile block system in Los Angeles, and with the U sonian houses using wood, plywood, masonry and glass. In each instance, the aim was to make building construction less costly by means of factory production, and keeping skilled labor off the building site as much as possible, retaining the skills in the factories where materials and method made thcir work there more profitable for all concerned.
The ''All Steel" houses were placed among the hillslopes of Los Angeles with careful consideration of the terrain. No cutting and slashing ofthe hills, no ruthless terracing as had become the habit for most Los Angeles housing. This makes the individual homes cling to the slope, and necessitates, in plan, the use of multiple levels.
The material throughout was intended to be sheet steel and poured concrete. All the plans vary from house to house, but the system is constant. This is the cost-reducing factor used at its best without the monotony of repetitive designs.
On his first sketch for the project, in his handwriting are written the following notes in explanation:
"Sheet metal structures for cantilevered mezzanine-type dwellings. Unit system. Furnished, except movable.
"One section used throughout - interpenetrated casting of vermiculite or concrete.
"Windows and doors same sheet metal section. Wardrobes and stationary furniture, same.
"Sections perforated for glass insertions for windows.
"Flanges perforated for concrete interpenetration. Floors, walls, ceilings the same.
"No bolt-screws, or mechanical fittings. No field labor except assembly and pouring concrete.
''Appurtenance systems all independant of structure, shop fabricated."
Plates 135, 136
Plates 137, 138
I've always felt it was a missed opportunity for Wright not to spec-design homes on a Levitt-town scale. The Usonians, much as I'm addicted to them, are all unique, even with the standard construction system. They are also often so fussy that they were difficult to build. If FLW had designed a post and panel construction system, he could have opened a factory to crank out the building components and them ship them to anywhere in the country to be assembled in three or four plan options.
This is the kind of note that means a lot to a reader of his small-scale prototype plans -- especially when the elevations are missing or not fully developed.