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House with Courtyard

“Into the Woods”

MOS

We seldom see people in the work of MOS Architects. At least not in the photographs of the built work by this provocative New York City practice; nor, more tellingly perhaps, in the mesmeric and moody video clips MOS produce for certain key talismanic projects. It is almost as if the houses are theatrical or cinematic sets for actions that have recently occurred or, more likely, are about to commence.

The houses are always anonymous. It may well be that the clients for these bespoke houses and art studios beyond the limits of Gotham City, in that leafy hinterland between Long Island Sound and the stately Hudson River, simply do not wish to be identified. And never more so than now, in this era of lockdown that disallows a critic to visit in person. If so, such discretion may work paradoxically to the practice’s advantage in establishing an oeuvre and something of a mystique.

According to the architects, House with Courtyard is sited between a certain affluent town in Connecticut and a rural area across the state line in Upstate New York. In terms of architectural culture, that is a powerful vector (a ley line?) linking the work of Modernists and Late Modernists like Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson and Richard Meier near the Connecticut shore to works by subsequent architects in sylvan isolation inland, an agrarian world now being colonized by a discreet elite.

If clients are seldom visible in the practice’s sanctioned photographs and their deliberate, home-made videos, domestic objects are. The interiors created by Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample are inhabited by select pieces of furniture. Props for intelligent life. Their exteriors are home to objects too, some of them manufactured, others seemingly natural: relics of our ubiquitous consumer society in a chill artificial terrain, an ersatz floating world.

People, however, do appear in MOS’ signature isometric drawings. These wallpaper-like...

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