Inside Iconic Houses - Live Online Tour Program

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Portraits of the Architect - Interview with Gennaro Postiglione

Test Labs for New Ideas - Interview with Natascha Drabbe

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Health and Home - Interview with Beatriz Colomina

A Life Less Ordinary – Interview with Valentijn Carbo

Invisible Women - Interview with Alice T. Friedman

Winy Maas on the Green Dip

Anita Blom on Experimental Housing of the 1970s

Women’s Worlds - Interview with Natalie Dubois

The Culture of Living - Interview with Robert von der Nahmer

Hetty Berens: A Fresh Take on Modernism

Niek Smit on Supporting Modern Heritage

Alice Roegholt on Amsterdam’s Working-Class Palaces

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Save Maison Zilveli - Sign the Petition!

How a Building Tells a Story - Recorded Event

Toolkit for Owners of a Modern House

13 Aalto Sites Nominated for UNESCO World Heritage

Villa Beer At Risk - Sign the Petition!

Business Cards of Stone, Timber and Concrete in the Brussels Region 1830-1970

Exhibiting & Visiting Modernist Monuments

Fostering Well-Researched Responsible Design


Enjoy a virtual visit to the California House and a Q&A with architect Peter Gluck

Exhibition 'Modernism and Refuge'

A Hidden Gem of Postmodernism

New Centre for Historic Houses of India

An Online Chronicle of the Douglas House

SPECIAL – Northern (High)Lights!

SPECIAL - Casas Icónicas en España!

SPECIAL - Vacances en France!

SPECIAL – Iconic Dreams - Sleep in an Iconic House!

SPECIAL – Dutch Delights!

SPECIAL – German Greats!

Villa Henny, geometric style icon in The Netherlands

A Mendini temple in Amsterdam

IH-lectures USA & Canada Feb 2020 on Melnikov House

An Afternoon with the Glucks

Danish Moderns – Looking Back at Our Mini-Seminar

Venturo house complements Exhibition Centre WeeGee’s offering

Lecture report: Remembering Richard Neutra

Hôtel Mezzara and the Guimard Museum project

We welcome 13 new members!

BREAKING NEWS: 8 Wright Sites Inscribed on Unesco World Heritage List!

LECTURE 29 August - Raymond Neutra: My Father and Frank Lloyd Wright

Iconic Reads

SPECIAL – Iconic Artist Residencies

Our Badge of Honour

SPECIAL – Women & Iconic Houses

SPECIAL – Iconic Housing

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City-ordered rebuild of landmark house stirs debate: Appropriate or overreach?

Kohlberg House Restoration in Progress

Planned Demolition of Rietveld Homes in Reeuwijk

Renovation Gili House in Crisis

An Iconic Saga

Restoring Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 and Clarifying the Controversies

Modernism on the East Coast

Iconic Houses in Latin America

House Tours May 2018 

Expert Meetings

Terence Riley -KEYNOTE SPEAKER- on Philip Johnson

New era for Villa E-1027 and Cap Moderne

Jorge Liernur -KEYNOTE SPEAKER- on Latin American Modernism(s)

Restoring the past: The Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Home Studio

Behind the Scenes: Hendrick de Keyser Association

Latin America Special – Focus on Mexico

De Stijl in Drachten

Preserving the Nancarrow House-Studio

Meet the Friends - Nanne de Ru

Latin America Special – Focus on Brazil

Jan de Jong’s House is Latest Hendrick de Keyser Acquisition

Stay in a Belgian Modernist Masterpiece

In Berlin’s Modernist Network

Rietveld-Schröder House Celebrates De Stijl Anniversary

Meet Our New Foundation Board Members

Virtual Tour of a Papaverhof Home in 3D

Getty Grant for Villa E-1027

Iconic Dacha

11 Le Corbusier Homes now on Unesco World Heritage List

At home with Le Corbusier

Wright Plus 2016 Walk

Speaking Volumes: Building the Iconic Houses Library

Follow us!

Documentary La Ricarda

Rent a house designed by Gerrit Rietveld

Barragán House on Screen

Gesamtkunstwerk – An Icon on the Move

Triennale der Moderne 27 September - 13 October 2013

Prestigious Art Nouveau mansions in Brussels open

September 14 + 15: Heritage Days in Paris

June's New Arrivals: Museum Apartments

Iconic Houses is now on Twitter and Facebook

Corbu’s Cabanon: Reconstruction and Lecture

Projekt Mies In Krefeld: Life-sized model of the Krefeld Clubhouse

New arrivals: Spain special

MAMO: Le Corbu’s ‘Park in the Sky’ open 12 June

Annual Wright Architectural Housewalk: 18 May

Frank Lloyd Wright Homes on Screen

Message from the Editor

Neutra’s House on Screen

Melnikov House on Screen

Iconic Houses in the media

Message from the Editor

Eileen Gray House on Screen

Copy Culture

At Home in the 20th Century

New 20th century Iconic Houses website launches

23 October 2014

Christen Obel, Utzon Foundation

Christen Obel is an economist by training. He is chairman of the Utzon Foundation which in 2010 purchased Can Lis (in Porto Petro, Mallorca), the first house built by Sydney Opera House architect Jørn Utzon, from Utzon’s son Kim. With the intention of opening the house to the public in a controlled fashion, the foundation began planning month-long, work-related residencies for architects, artists and others, as well as hosting student visits and open days for the general public. The house hosted its first resident in April 2012.

Christen Obel is also chairman of the Obel Family Foundation, which funded the purchase of Can Lis as well as a large part of the Utzon Center in Aalborg, Denmark, the architect’s last building (designed with his son Kim and completed in 2008). The Utzon Center incorporates three exhibition halls, a library and large model workshop for architectural students, a small conference centre and a restaurant on the waterfront in central Aalborg. Jørn Utzon had been raised in Aalborg and although his career took him far away, he always maintained strong links to the city where he grew up.

At the Iconic Houses Conference in Barcelona on 25 November, Christen Obel will discuss some of the considerations involved in renovating and running Can Lis.

Tell us about your work with significant houses
Actually I have none, besides being professionally involved with and responsible for the heritage of Can Lis, Jørn Utzon’s house on Mallorca. The Obel Family Foundation got involved with Utzon because it is based in Aalborg and helped to fund the Utzon Center. The idea for the Utzon Foundation grew gradually after Kim Utzon approached me and I realised that he was determined to sell Can Lis. I felt that an Utzon Foundation would be a good and safe construction to guarantee the house’s future.

Do you have a favourite house?
There are many wonderful houses and it’s impossible to choose just one. However, a very personal favourite would be my own summerhouse, which is a wooden construction on the coast north of Copenhagen, completed in 2011. The house is based on the same site-specific principles as the Sea Ranch Condominium in California by MLTW Architects (Moore, Lyndon, Turnbull, Whitaker) from the mid-1960s, and built using similar materials.
If I might choose a museum rather than a private house, I’d point to the Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg by Alvar Aalto and Jean-Jacques Baruël from 1974, which is currently undergoing major renovations. The building is wonderful and very consistent architecturally, but as a modern museum it poses many practical problems and challenges. Some of the challenges are similar to the ones we experienced in Can Lis.

What’s the biggest challenge Can Lis faces right now?
To make the house available to the public, meeting the huge interest in a manner that does not compromise the house. Obviously, a small private house can only handle a very limited number of visitors.

What do you hope will emerge from the upcoming Iconic Houses conference in Barcelona?
At the Utzon Foundation we have no organisation of our own and a very narrow focus on the two buildings we own ourselves, so we need to consider how we can put them – or us – into a bigger context. I expect to get a lot of inspiration from the conference.

What 21st-century home deserves to be an Iconic House of the future?
I have a very limited overview of what goes on, but I was recently exposed to the ideas of the Japanese architectural firm Atelier Bow-Wow. I find them quite fascinating, as their work is unspectacular and yet quite unique. Split Machiya (a machiya is a townhouse) is an urban home in which every family function is considered, including even a contemplative garden, yet which remains both minimal and a part of the local context. I’m sure that this kind of thinking will be an important factor in the 21st century.

Photo Manuel Oka

Japanese practice Atelier Bow-Wow has created ‘split machiya’, a private home for a couple and a single woman in Tokyo, Japan. Sited within a densely populated neighborhood, the dwelling is composed of two mirrored structures, loosely connected by a lush central courtyard. This ‘split’ machiya is a house split into two. It is made up of two tiny houses 29sqm each, one three storey high and the other two storey. There is a concrete foundation on the ground level that acts as a retaining wall to the garden which is raised slightly from the street level. The two houses are connected by a giant bench which is essentially an exterior corridor. The left house has a kitchen but no bathroom and the right house has bathroom but no kitchen. Therefore the two have to rely on each other to function though they are separate structures. The central garden space connects the two volumes and also provides sun and wind into the house.