Last Minute Chance - Join City Icons: Amsterdam

Festive City Icons Kick Off with Talk by Linda Vlassenrood

Healing Through Architecture

MORE MIES - Pure Architecture in Haus Lange Haus Esters

An Elementalist and Mediterranean Architecture

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Modernism Week Lecture: 10 Years of Iconic Houses

Aluminaire House Grand Opening

Exhibition Icons of the Czech Avant-Garde

Icon for Sale - Loos Villa: Haus Horner

SPECIAL – Iconic Dreams Europe - Sleep in an Iconic House!

SPECIAL – Iconic Dreams North America - Sleep in an Iconic House!

SPECIAL – German Greats!

SPECIAL - Vacances en France!

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SPECIAL – Iconic Artist Residencies

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Winy Wants a World Wonder

Welcome Atelier Volten!

Public Screenings and Private Streaming of Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House

Sleep in a Modernist Gem – Huis Billiet in Bruges

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - 100 Years Van Zessen House

Exclusive Tour and Film Screening Package

The Last House Designed by Adolf Loos Will Be Built in Prague

Icons of the Czech Avantgarde

Icon for Sale - Casa Legorreta

Rietveld Day: 200 Enthusiasts Explored 3 Utrecht Icons

Hurray! 10 Years Iconic Houses

7th International Iconic Houses Conference A Huge Success

Meet Conference Co-Chair Iveta Černá

Meet Conference Co-Chair Maria Szadkowska

Eighteen Iconic Houses Under One Roof

17 June - 'Pioneers-film' Screening Amersfoort

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Van Eesteren House Museum

Welcome Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky Zentrum in Vienna!

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Movie Night: Adolf Loos- Revolutionary Among Architects

'Inside Iconic Houses' Case Study House #26 Webcast in Webshop

Inside Iconic Houses at Taut’s Home in Berlin

Rediscovering Forgotten Loos Interiors in Pilsen

'Inside Iconic Houses' - Online Tour Program

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - The Diagoon House

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Rietveld Schröder House

Rietveld Houses Owners Association

Corberó Space: New Life for Hidden Jewel

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Pierre Cuypers' House and Workshops

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Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Van Doesburg Rinsema House

Welcome Rietveld's Van Daalen House!

Architect Harry Gessner Passed Away at 97

Watch Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House Now On Demand

Icon Saved: Dorchester Drive House

Welcome Umbrella House!

Iconic Houses in the Netherlands – Berlage’s Masterpiece

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Het Schip

Inside Iconic Houses - Tour of Maison Cazenave

Inside Iconic Houses Tours Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami

Casa Masó Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

Inside Iconic Houses tours Roland Reisley's Usonian Frank Lloyd Wright House

Rietveld’s Experimental Housing in Reeuwijk Saved

Serralves Villa after restoration

Portraits of the Architect - Interview with Gennaro Postiglione

Test Labs for New Ideas - Interview with Natascha Drabbe

Inside Iconic Houses - Isokon Building

Inside Iconic Houses - 16 December: Sunnylands with Janice Lyle

BCN-BXL Coderch-De Koninck - Beyond Time

New Chairman Architect Nanne de Ru on The Perfect Platform

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

July is Iconic Houses Month

Hans van Heeswijk on The Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House

Wessel de Jonge on Dutch Icons at Risk

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

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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

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An Online Chronicle of the Douglas House

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Sponsors and Friends

An Afternoon with the Glucks

Chandler McCoy on Making Modern Houses Sustainable

Catherine Croft: Getting Away from the Demolition Mentality in the UK

Patrick Weber on Discovering an Unknown Icon

Fiona Fisher on Iconic Interiors

Jocelyn Bouraly on Villa Cavrois

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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

Our Badge of Honour

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Kohlberg House Restoration in Progress

Planned Demolition of Rietveld Homes in Reeuwijk

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An Iconic Saga

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

Modernism on the East Coast

Iconic Houses in Latin America

Conference testimonials

House Tours May 2018 

Expert Meetings

Natascha Drabbe - Iconic Houses: The Next Chapter

Terence Riley -KEYNOTE SPEAKER- on Philip Johnson

New era for Villa E-1027 and Cap Moderne

Hilary Lewis on Philip Johnson and his Glass House

John Arbuckle on Great House Tours

William D. Earls on the Harvard Five in New Canaan

Stover Jenkins on Working for Philip Johnson

Frederick Noyes on his Father’s House

Scott Fellows and Craig Bassam on their Passion for Preservation

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

Fabio Grementieri on Modernism in Argentina

Catalina Corcuera Cabezut on Casa Luis Barragán

Renato Anelli on Lina Bo Bardi’s Casa de Vidro

Tim McClimon on Corporate Preservation

Amanda Nelson on Building Donor Relationships

John Bacon on Planned Giving

Jean-Paul Warmoes on the Art of Fundraising in America

Chandler McCoy on Why Less is More

Katherine Malone-France on Moving with the Times

Anne Mette Rahbæk on Philanthropic Investments and Preservation

Peter McMahon on Saving Modern Houses on Cape Cod

Toshiko Kinoshita on Japanese Modern Heritage Houses

Roland Reisley on Life in a Frank Lloyd Wright House

5th Iconic Houses Conference May 2018

Kristin Stone, Pasadena Tour Company

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

Behind the Scenes: Hendrick de Keyser Association

Crosby Doe, Architecture for Sale

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

Maintaining Aalto's Studio – Linoleum Conservation

Virtual Tour of a Papaverhof Home in 3D

Getty Grant for Villa E-1027

Plečnik House in Ljubljana

Iconic Dacha

Iconic Houses: A Bohemian Road Trip

Work in Progress: Capricho de Gaudí

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At home with Le Corbusier

Henry van de Velde’s Study in Haus Hohe Pappeln Restored

Lynda Waggoner reports

A Conference to Remember

4th International Iconic Houses Conference

Guest of Honor - Harry Gesner

Fallingwater: European Lecture Tour

Wright Plus 2016 Walk

Susan Macdonald, Getty Conservation Institute

John Mcllwee, Garcia House

Meet the Friends – Elisabeth Tostrup

Iconic Houses: The Story So Far

Willie van Burgsteden, designer Iconic Houses

Buff Kavelman, Philanthropic Advisor

Meet the Friends - Frederick Noyes

Sheridan Burke, GML Heritage

Meet the Friends - Raymond Neutra

Sidney Williams, Frey House

Franklin Vagnone and Deborah Ryan, Museum Anarchists

Meet the Friends - James Haefner

Toshiko Mori, architect

Malachi Connolly, Cape Cod Modern House Trust

Meet the Friends - Penny Sparke

Lucia Dewey Atwood, Eames House

Cory Buckner, Mutual Housing Site Office

Jeffrey Herr, Hollyhock House

Speaking Volumes: Building the Iconic Houses Library

Sarah Lorenzen, Neutra VDL Studio and Residences

Ted Bosley, Gamble House

Keeping It Modern - Getty Conservation Grants

Meet the Friends - Thomas Schönauer

Wim de Wit, Stanford University

Linda Dishman, Los Angeles Conservancy

Jesse Lattig, Pasadena Heritage

Join us in Los Angeles! Update

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Conference calls!

Follow us!

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Conference House Tours Barcelona

Marta Lacambra, Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera

Natascha Drabbe, Iconic Houses Foundation

Special speaker Oscar Tusquets

Jordi Tresserras, UNESCO Network ‘Culture, tourism and development’

Christen Obel, Utzon Foundation

Elena Ruiz Sastre, Casa Broner

Fernando Alvarez Prozorovich, La Ricarda

Tim Benton, Professor of Art History (Emeritus)

Susana Landrove, Docomomo Spain

Rossend Casanova, Casa Bloc

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Jordi Falgàs, Casa Rafael Masó

Documentary La Ricarda

Marga Viza, Casa Míla/La Pedrera

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Victoria & Albert Museum London November 12

Tommi Lindh, new director of the Alvar Aalto Foundation and Museum

Iveta Černá, Villa Tugendhat

Lynda Waggoner, Fallingwater

Kimberli Meyer, MAK Center

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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

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Annual Wright Architectural Housewalk: 18 May

Frank Lloyd Wright Homes on Screen

Message from the Editor

Neutra’s House on Screen

Michel Richard, Fondation Le Corbusier

Symposium The Public and the Modern House

Melnikov House on Screen

Iconic Houses in the media

Message from the Editor

Round Table Review

Eileen Gray House on Screen

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Publication date 1 December 2022

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - The Diagoon House

Ideal Living, but Different

At the end of the 1960s, the Netherlands was in turmoil. These were the years of secularization. People demanded more freedom and democratization. Views on housing and urban planning also changed drastically. The seventies were the glory days for participation by users and residents in the Netherlands. The Diagoon houses in Delft are a special example of this change. One Diagoon House owner is a member of Iconic Houses, and his home can be visited by appointment.

Text: Robert von der Nahmer | Photos: Jan Bartelsman

House = shell + infill
This is the motto under which architect Herman Hertzberger (*1932) developed an experimental family home in 1968. A form of housing ‘that allows everyone to be themselves as much as possible’. Commissioned by the Experimental Housing Foundation (Stichting Experimentele Woningbouw), eight of these homes were realized in 1971 in the post-war expansion district of Buitenhof in Delft.

According to Herman Hertzberger, the dwellings should be considered a prototype that can be tested. The starting point is that the houses are basically a so-called half-product. Residents should be able to arrange, expand, finish, and furnish the houses themselves. This according to their functional and emotional living needs. 'Such a home should not be an appliance, like a shaver,' says Hertzberger, 'but an instrument, like a violin that only starts to sound in the user's hand.' For Hertzberger, it is important to provide a context that encourages people to shape the home according to their own ideas and needs. Emancipation is on his mind, not conformity.

Given the current housing challenge, the Diagoon houses are particularly topical  

Changing Insights
That premise does not come out of the blue. At the end of the 1960s, the housing shortage resulting from World War II was largely alleviated. At the same time, there was an increasing awareness of what is described as ‘housing shortage’. Rigid modernism in architecture and urban planning, with the uniformity of housing and the separation and zoning of urban functions, was seen as the disintegration of the city and as a threat to the individual. New design concepts are being developed in which the user is central. Hertzberger too is looking for a different design attitude, so that an architecture is created in which the user himself is ‘in control’. A design philosophy that became known under the term structuralism.

Master of One's Own House
That human scale is the starting point for the Diagoon homes. The houses are fairly simple in design and consist of two fixed cores: stairs and wet rooms. Around these are several floors around a void, each staggered by half a floor, which Hertzberger calls the 'living spaces'. These places can in principle be given any desired function: living, sleeping, studying, eating and the like. Hertzberger calls the central void the living hall: the place where residents on different floors can make their own place and remain connected. The contrast with conventional housing is great because there each space has a specific purpose.

Residents must be able to design, expand and finish the houses themselves  

The Diagoon houses turn out to be both a spatial and a social experiment. They offer many possibilities, but also demand something of the residents. The houses are changed, adapted, and actively appropriated. At the same time, the houses influence the residents in their way of living, their experiences, and their mutual relationships. Not all residents are willing or able to change the way they live. Some of the dwellings are therefore conventionally filled in by installing dividing walls to create lockable rooms. In other dwellings, on the other hand, use was made of the openness, so that the dwellings became a large continuous living space.

Making Space, Leaving Space
Children of the time remember that because of this openness, contact was always possible between family members, much more than they were used to in earlier homes. Relations between parents and children also became less hierarchical. Space was created for consultation on matters such as tutoring, hairstyle, clothing, music, drinking, going out and when to come home. Also, residents do not experience the house as empty when they are there alone or in pairs, but also not as full when the whole family is complete. The special qualities are equally praised. The homes invite the creation of sitting areas and sitting corners, to look around or to do nothing and daydream. The Diagoon dwellings appear to offer space for this, both literally and figuratively.

‘And then you buy one of those diagoon-things with your savings, and you still look like a fool!’  

Controversial Opinions
The press is not entirely enthusiastic about the project in Delft. In 1972 an article appears with the title 'new consumer good: eksperimental building', written in the 'modern' spelling of the time. In the sub-title it says with dismay: ‘And then you buy one of those diagoon-things with your savings, and you still look like a fool!’. The homes are far too expensive and do not force a fundamental change in housing and the construction industry. Nevertheless, public interest is enormous. Interested parties are brought in from all over the Netherlands by buses at a time. Their first impression is often that the houses do indeed look like bunkers from the outside. Once inside, the surprised viewers judge differently, and many are impressed by the spaciousness and light.

From over fifty years of living experiences, the homes still appear to function well. It is striking that especially the psychological aspects of living play a dominant role. The appreciation of both old and new residents relates largely to sensory experiences: through the eye, ear, sense of touch and organ of balance (movement). Diagoon houses induce numerous sensations, thanks to space, light, time, and matter. The emphasis is not merely on practical aspects, but rather on living as a way of life. Moreover, given the current housing challenge, Diagoon houses are particularly topical. Once again, standardization is the norm in material, construction method, appearance and, above all, living itself. There is not only a housing shortage, but once again a residential distress. In that context, the functional and cultural sustainability of the Diagoon houses is striking. The homes are a shining example to continue, designing and building in the spirit of experimentation and innovation.

Robert von der Nahmer's Diagoon House is part of the Iconic Houses Network.

Space for Living
In 2021, Diagoon houses celebrated their 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the publication Space for living - The experimental Diagoon Houses of Herman Hertzberger appeared, describing the characteristics and related qualities of these experimental homes that guarantee a form of ‘ideal living’. It deals with the social context in which this experiment came about, the architectural and urban planning aspects, the underlying vision of the architect and the experiences of residents over the past fifty years. The publication is in line with the growing interest, reassessment and current research into architecture and urban planning after the reconstruction period, under the title Post65 (1965-1995). The publication is available in Dutch and English versions.

About the author
Robert von der Nahmer is an architect and owner of a Diagoon House in Delft. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and the Academy of Architecture and Urban Planning in Rotterdam. He was an architect at Alkemade & Von der Nahmer and the multidisciplinary design firm ProForma. Until 2021, he was coordinator of professional practice and pre-masters at the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture, where he also taught. The house at 32 Gebbenlaan can be visited by appointment, see

Movie Night 26 January 2023
Iconic Houses made a film about the developments of Dutch residential architecture in the twentieth century. In "Pioneers of the Modern Dwelling House in the Netherlands," the author of this article presents the theme "Experiments with Space. Join us 26 January in Amsterdams when the film is screened at Amsterdam School Museum Het Schip. Twenty iconic houses, spread throughout the Netherlands, provide insight into improved hygiene and health, palaces for the people, the roles of women as clients or architects, experimments woth space and the house as the architect's self-portrait.
Tickets are available at

This article previously appeared in Dutch Magazine Herenhuis #92, November/December 2022.
Translated with

Publication date 1 December 2022