Saturday, September 19, 2020

Architect Walter Weberhofer

Casa Fernandini by Walter Weberhofer (1957).

I don't know why I have never heard of Walter Weberhofer (1923-2002) at some time during my architectural education. Weberhofer was a prolific modernist architect working in Peru. I recently stumbled across images of his Casa Fernandini (1957) built on the beach at Santa Maria del Mar, Peru. I am embarrassed to admit this design eluded my awareness for so long. It is a dramatic and romantic architectural work of art — worthy of inclusion in any history of Mid Century Modern design. 
Casa Fernandini.

Casa Fernandini, with its cantilevered decks and horizontal emphasis, is obviously influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater (1939) at Bear Run, Pennsylvania. However, it is not just a knock-off of Wright's work. Casa Fernandini hints at the New Brutalism movement about to emerge as well as being extremely vigorous with angular tension and structural panache. The house also reminds me of sets for the film version of  Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (Warner Brothers, 1949.) The set designs by Edward Carrere were panned at the time by the architectural press as a perversion of modern architectural principles. Admittedly they were cartoonish and hyperbolic, but also viscerally enjoyable. Weberhofer's work is like that. Over the top, but fun. 

Set design for The Fountainhead.