Showdown at the Schindler House
Runway for a Fashion Show 2004/10
The design for a Fashion Runway at the Schindler House converts the property – its delicately arranged, private interior and exterior spaces – into one event environment. Five objects of disturbance and a large catwalk surface placed outside of the house interfere with the existing spatial ‘rules’ of the house and create new connections and an entirely new field of dynamics. These enhance the quality of the existing house while setting up new possibilities to experience it. The five objects of disturbance are identical sculptures (their form takes inspiration from the ancient ‘ziccurat’ structures) which also function as stair towers. The stairs establish diagonal and vertical lines in the otherwise horizontal landscape of the Schindler House. They open new ways of circulation and viewpoints and break the line of Schindler’s constant horizon and the intimacy of the private spaces of the house. The stairs are taller than the house, 12 feet versus Schindler’s 9 feet; they take the vision above the roof, bridge over hedges and grade changes, and because of their height a sculpture placed on one side of the house can be seen from grade on the other side of the house. By means of these new visual and literal connections the sculptures unite the otherwise divided property into one environment.
The large catwalk surface plays with the exsting landscape and conceptually traverses the site and the house from east to west. On the east side it occupies the area of a sunken garden lined with tall grasses, on the west side it converts the existing natural stage of the back courtyard into a real stage with the audience occupying the area of the sunken garden in the back.
Together the new elements create a 3 dimensional catwalk across the entire property on which models perform simultaneously and can be seen from different points of view. Models will be walking across the site, up and down the stairs, over the landscape and through the house. While one model is seen up close, others can be seen from afar, front, side, back, above and below. [The stairs also deliberately create very theatrical moments: models emerge from hidden spaces to glamorously descend the stairs or disappear from view while descending the stairs on the other side of a fence. In addition, existing landscape elements such as tall grasses or bamboo together with carefully placed lighting are used to mysteriously veil and unveil the models and their clothes.
The house itself is the back stage for the event and houses changing rooms and sound booth, and the sleeping porches on the roof are converted in lighting and control rooms. Therefore ‘back-of-house’ functions are equally part of the total event and open to view as are the performances.] The idea of this project started with the Fashion Show but goes beyond. For the show an environment was created which breaks with the conventions of a typical catwalk. After the show it is intended that the five stair towers remain on site as sculptures which for a period of time help understand Schindler’s Paradise in a different way.