• Todd Pitman

Garden Villa

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

Garden Villas were Ruocco's answer to affordable unstandardized builder houses using standardized components. He intended to create high quality architecture that was affordable to all. His earliest efforts in this direction were showcased in 1935 in Balboa Park with the Modeltown exhibit but his mature effort for "Garden Villa" came in 1953 with the Balboa Park Home Show. This house utilized prefabricated pieces within a steel frame based on an eight foot grid. Floor plans were customizable and offered many built-in features such Hi Fi stereo systems. Providing for family growth and flexibility they could be outfitted with dividable rooms separated by optional mobile walls or heavy curtains. The house was even designed so that it could be taken apart, packed up and taken with you if you moved. The steel structure allowed clear story and transom glass above walls and doors to maximize natural light. These homes were extensively published in major publications of the day including Time Magazine, Arts & Architecture and others. The images below are from the rare publication House+Home #6, "Home Show House" and depict not only the finished house but also the construction. Ilse Ruocco designed the interiors and Harriet Wimmer designed the landscape and pool. This house was taken apart after the show and stored within the Design Center basement on 5th Ave. The parts were used to build Ruocco's second home 'Solari' in Alvarado Estates in 1955. Although Ruocco's vision was to build hundreds of these homes it is believed that only about a dozen were built. Ultimately only his own home utilized the steel structure as costs and scale suggested wood as a better option #lloydruocco #ilseruocco #artsandarchitecture #modern #sandiegomodernism #midcenturymodern #prefabrication #gardenvilla #postandbeam #steelpostandbeam #harrietwimmer #balboapark #modeltown #sandiegomodern #californiamodern




The Dinning Room at Solari. Note the extensive use of transom glass. This was possible because of the steel structure that was used on the original Garden Villa design

The Garden Villa under construction Balboa Park 1953



Construction photos depicting total labor time to build house

Site and floor plan

No load bearing walls were used within the house allowing for flexibility and natural light

119 views

© 2018 Todd Pitman