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The Chaux Salt works

Discuss about the Architecture for Chaux Salt Works.

Gender notions can be viewed from the perspective of the history of modern architecture. Modern designs have to take into consideration human behavior (Kostof 1991). Through intensive analysis of various forms of architecture in history, the perception of society towards issues of gender equality can be observed. In this essay, we shall try to examine different case studies in the history of modern architecture with a view of establishing their impact on the issues of gender. For the purpose of this essay, I shall consider two case studies i.e. Chaux Salt Works, Claude Ledoux 1779 and Kew Lunatic Asylum, 1871 and other relevant material. Each case study shall be discussed and analysed extensively so as to decide on how it has reflected, reinforced or debased notions of gender.

The Chaux salt works (1779), provides a modern concept in the architecture of buildings. The architect, Claudes-Nicolas Leduox conceptualized a design in which structures are arranged based on rational geometry. This building is designed to solve the scarcity that France was experiencing in the 18th Century. Out of his own volition, Ledoux designs his first concept of the salt works building which is brilliant, innovative and a breakaway from the traditional concepts. The royalty rejected the concept for being grandiose and palace-like. It was an unusual approach to the construction of factories. Modern technology may be good but it may be prone to failure if not properly conceptualized as seen in the film Modern Times (Chaplin 1936). In his second concept, Ledoux designs a complex building which is adopted and constructed.

Kew Lunatic Asylum, 1871 is designed by two architects Vivian and Frederick K with an aim of providing a suitable facility for lunatics and idiots in Victoria Australia. The building is designed to be beautiful and elegant so as to provide a wonderful asylum for lunatics hence depicting Melbourne as a benevolent city. The building should be located on a site that provides that provides comfort and happiness for the lunatics (Willsmere n.d.). The building is also constructed to house inmates of al sexes. The architect reinforces the notion that all genders are equal  through the design of ward of similar quality for either gender at a time when discrimination against women is rife. One of its most unique feature is its use of Ha-Ha walls that deter the patients from escaping. The rosy gardens and well manicured lawns provide an good environment for mental health patients to deal with their suffering and mental anguish. The roof of the building resembles the French-style roofing (Webb 2016).

Kew Lunatic Asylum

Both the Chaux Salt works and the Kew Lunatic asylum are designed based on different architectural background but share similar concepts. The Chaux Salt works is designed to be a beautiful and modern factory that stumps the advancement of France in Europe. The Kew Lunatic on the other hand is designed so as to be a beautiful and elegant structure that depicts the benevolence and civility of the city of Melbourne. According to the House and Homes journal, stresses that architects and their clients perception of  architectural expressions is not as unique individualistic statement, but as a means of articulating the values and identities of communities (Jarzombek 1991). This implies that the values of a community can be expressed by use of architecture. The Chaux Salt works may be seen to reinforce gender bias as the role and input of women in its design and construction remains unclear. On the contrary, the concept of gender bias is debased in the Kew Lunatic asylum design. The inclusion of a female architect as well as a male architect coupled with equally well designed wards for both sexes debases the negative gender notions.


Architecture plays a fundamental role in shaping the ideas, perceptions and attitudes of society. As seen above, it can be used to reinforce or debase cultural attitude on issues of gender. The Frankfurt Kitchen designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky features a compact kitchen that would ‘Rationalize’ women’s work. This concept portrays cooking as purely a woman’s work hence reinforcing the notion that a woman’s role is limited to working in the Kitchen. Both Both the Chaux Salt works and the Kew Lunatic asylum use architectural concepts to create or reinforce a notion in society. The architects of the Kew Lunatic facility use their skills to debase the negative gender notions that exist in the 19th and 20th Centuries. This is the period in which women are segregated and marginalized in society. “The poverty of modern day architecture stems from  the atrophy of sensuality. Everything is dominated by reason in order to create amazement without proper research. The art of the engineer is not enough if it is not guided by the primitive needs of men” (Adam 2009).

The concept of wholeness of life can be sufficiently incorporated in the design of buildings. This implies that all aspects of the environment can be unified by an architect to (Bruce 2013)provide a structure suitable for human habitation. A fundamental principle of design is that nothing can be used or it exists only by itself. There is a sense of relationship between the various elements of design This concept of design is prominent in the 19th Century and leads to the construction of potent building. In this essay, I shall consider two cases of building architecture with an aim of drawing contrast or similarity with respect to total design. The local case that will be considered is Featherston House, Robin Boyd, 1969 while the international case will be Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1934. Total design creates an environment of spectacular effect.

Design and construction

Robin Boyd designs the Featherston House drawing inspiration from a warehouse. According to Boyd, Individual artistic expression can be seen through the design of a house (McPhilips n.d.) The interior design of the building features an indoor garden and ‘floating’ platforms above the garden giving it a natural feel. The interior reflects the environment. Instead of the normal roofing material, he opts for a glass roof and large glass so as to allow the natural light to illuminate the interior (Wakely 2006). The architect concentrates on nature as a concept of his architectural design. The location of the building merges smoothly with the interior design of the structure. Boyd attempts to illustrate that the concept of total design can be married with contemporary design. Boyd also incorporated natural ventilation in the design as a form of air conditioning. He proves that architectural design can merged with nature to produce a modern building.


Frank Lloyd  Wright designed the Fallingwater building in 1935 in Pennsylvania. The location of the building over a waterfall and surrounded by tall trees gives it spectacular views (Fallingwater n.d.). The building stands as a masterpiece of architecture integrating a brilliant design and nature. Wright’s adoration for Japanese style of architecture is visible as he incorporates harmony between man and nature throughout the entire structure. The fireplace hearth incorporates boulders from the surrounding. The organic design connects seamlessly with the surrounding natural environment hence reinforcing the concept of total design. All the elements of the building perfectly even to the small details fora example no metal frames are used at the point where the glass and stone meet. The architect understands that people are part of nature, therefore, a design that incorporates nature will conform to what we are(part of nature) (Curtis 1983).

Both Featherstone House and falling water building are great examples of how total design concepts can be used to come up with structures that are remarkably beautiful and sound. These buildings concentrate on nature as the basic from which the design of the entire building arises. The Fallingwater buildings incorporates material from the surrounding environment as part of the material used for the interior design of the building providing a blend between the interior and exterior of the building.  The entire house is in complete harmony with the environment. The sound of running water can be heard clearly from the comfort of the house and the terraces are in resemblance with the surrounding rock formation. Wright was influenced by concepts from Japanese Architecture. On the contrary, Boyd relied on his own creativity to merge his concepts with nature. He concept stems from the idea of a warehouse and a loft. He was not for the idea of compartmentalization of space but rather how space would unfold.  This presents a contrast from Wrights approach.


At a period where total design is not very common, both architects set out standards such that the resulting buildings would be as attractive and impressive as buildings borne from modern architecture. The architects prove that the concept of total design is still relevant and applicable even in the 21st Century.  Both architects draw inspiration from nature and bring harmony throughout the building. The concept of total design unifies all aspects of design. It ensure complete harmony between all the elements of a building for example the floor, roof, windows furniture, the exterior and the surrounding environment (Marcus 2014). All the features are in perfect synchrony with the environment. Total design has its challenges. It is an expensive concept hence discourages many from pursuing it. This is because most often than not it does not employ the use standardized materials together with the methods. Also, part of the reason that it has become less common in the 21st Century is because designers have abandoned it (Woods 2009). Very few architects are enthusiastic on utilizing the concepts of total design visa-vis the modern designs.

Essay 1

Adam, Peter. 2009. Eileen Gray: Her Life and Work. Thames and Hudson Ltd.

  1. "Modern Times'. Directed by Charlie Chaplin. Produced by Charles Chaplin Productions.

Jarzombek, Mark. 1991. ""Good-Life Modernism" And Beyond." The Cornell Journal of Architecture 4: 78.

Kostof, Spiro. 1991. The City Shaped: UrbanPatterns and Meanings Through History. London: Thames&Hudson Ltd.

Webb, Carolyn. 2016. Domain. June 28. Accessed October 16, 2017. https://www.domain.com.au/news/open-house-melbourne-former-kew-asylum-opens-doors-for-rare-public-viewing-20160628-gptqoy/.

n.d. Willsmere. Accessed October 16, 2017. https://www.willsmere.net/about-willsmere/willsmere-history.

Essay 2

Bruce, Gordon. 2013. Architecture Boston. Accessed October 16, 2017. https://www.architects.org/architectureboston/articles/total-theory-design.

Curtis, William J.R. 1983. Modern Architecture Sice 1900. Eaglewood Cliffs,NJ: Prentice-Hall.

n.d. Fallingwater. Accessed October 16, 2017. https://www.fallingwater.org/history/about-fallingwater/designing-fallingwater/.

Marcus, George H. 2014. Total Design: Architecture And Interiors of Iconic Modern Houses. New York: Rizzoli.

McPhilips, Richard. n.d. Open Journal. Accessed October 16, 2017. https://openjournal.com.au/boyd-living/.

Featherstone House. Directed by Mark Wakely. Produced by ABC.

Woods, Lebbeus. 2009. Lebbeus Woods. Accessed October 16, 2017. https://lebbeuswoods.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/total-design/.

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