THE FREY HOUSE II, PALM SPRINGS, CA
Albert Frey is a bit of a legend among architects and lovers of modernism and recently those seeking sustainable living options. Frey completed many homes in Southern California, most notably in Palm Springs, where the dry desert climate and sunshine so perfectly complements the features of modernist homes and lifestyle. No wonder Palm Springs has become a Mecca for mid-century modernism in many forms - architecture, interiors, and design. The Frey House was built in 1964, and was the second private home that Frey built for himself in the valley. At the time, it was the highest elevation of any residence in the city. Frey took five years to select the site and a year to measure the movement of the sun using a ten-foot pole. The home was designed to have as little impact on the surrounding environment. Measuring only 800 square feet, the house is compact but functional. A concrete block forms the foundation for the steel frame structure. The steel frame supports large glass panels and sheathing of corrugated metals. The flat roof is also made of corrugated metals. Inside, interiors are minimal with these simple materials - glass and steel - along with the views serving as the interest. Textiles are kept to a minimum but made from beautiful cottons and linen. They are definitely utilitarian and functional, like the house. Nothing extra, nothing out of place, nothing is right or wrong. The whole home just is, as it exists in service to nature and the cycles of daily living.
Why do we love this house? We love this house because it is intentional and not trying to be something that it's not. There is nothing extra here. Design is given over to function, not ornament. Materials come from the site itself (as in these huge rocks) that form some of the structure. We love this house because it's old and small. Yes, that's right. Old and small is actually so modern, in that vintage is sustainable and small spaces use fewer resources than huge ones. We love this house because it uses its location to the fullest, drawing on and turning toward the sun and hills and making the environment a full partner. We love this way of living, that Frey put on display so beautifully.