IconicHouses.org

news

Buy Your Early Bird Ticket Now for Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House

Health and Home - Interview with Beatriz Colomina

A Life Less Ordinary – Interview with Valentijn Carbo

Invisible Women - Interview with Alice T. Friedman

Portraits of the Architect - Interview with Gennaro Postiglione

Anita Blom on Experimental Housing of the 1970s

Test Labs for New Ideas - Interview with Natascha Drabbe

Women’s Worlds - Interview with Natalie Dubois

Winy Maas on the Green Dip

Hetty Berens: A Fresh Take on Modernism

The Culture of Living - Interview with Robert von der Nahmer

New Program - Inside Iconic Houses!

Niek Smit on Supporting Modern Heritage

Alice Roegholt on Amsterdam’s Working-Class Palaces

July is Iconic Houses Month

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

ICONS AT RISK

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

Iconic Houses End Year Message

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

Updated 22 March 2021

Alice Roegholt on Amsterdam’s Working-Class Palaces

In the run-up to Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House, our Iconic Houses online event in September, we talk to leading authorities on architecture in the Netherlands about the Dutch reinvention of the house in the 20th century. Alice Roegholt initiated the interior restoration of Het Schip (1917-1920), a masterpiece of Amsterdam School social housing, 20 years ago, and has presided over its transformation into a museum. It's always inspiring to hear her talk about its innovative approach in adding beauty to the lives of workers.

You’ve played a major role in promoting the Amsterdam School. How did it all start?
In 1999, I was looking for a place to celebrate the centenary of the Dutch Housing Act, which was in 2001, and I happened to cycle past Het Schip. There was a post office there, and I went inside to buy some stamps. The interior was extraordinary but in need of restoration. I said to the woman behind the desk, ‘This place is so beautiful, why don’t you paint it?’ She told me they were moving out, so there and then I decided to make a project of the place!

  • Photo: Els Zweerink
  • Photo: Els Zweerink
  • Photo: Els Zweerink
  • Photo: Els Zweerink
  • Photo: Els Zweerink
  • Photo: Els Zweerink
  • Photo: Els Zweerink
  • Photo: Els Zweerink
  • Photo: Els Zweerink
  • Photo: Els Zweerink
  • Photo: Els Zweerink
  • Photo: Els Zweerink

How did you go about turning Het Schip into a museum?
Het Schip had monument status from 1975, but interiors are not covered by that. Amsterdam City Council and the housing associations. The special thing about Het Schip is that it was built as workers’ housing in 1919, so the next step was to develop a house museum: Amsterdam has long been famous for its approach to social housing, and Het Schip is an important early example. It was built to be really beautiful, exactly like a villa for rich people – a working-class palace. Het Schip became an icon, raising the standard for social housing in the Netherlands. Even the post office on the block was an important statement – workers were empowered to send letters, save money and make phone calls. Of course, we needed context in this situation – today, the house looks poor as there is no shower – instead there was a communal bath house. So we added a slum home in our presentation, one room in which a family, often with several children, did everything, as an example of what it was replacing.

Slum home. Photo Jan Reinier van der Vliet.  

What tips would you share for anyone trying to save an icon, as you did?
Go for it! Realise that it’s a struggle, and that you’ll be doing a lot yourself. You have to aim at saving your house for a longer future. In Het Schip, we developed a museum and the museum house is now a part of this museum.

What was most innovative about the Amsterdam School?
As a result of the Housing Act of 1901, the Dutch government could finance, as a loan, social housing at the request of a housing association. The government also demanded that architects to be involved in designing social housing. Up until then, architects had not built for the poor. Worker housing was built as cheaply as possible, by contractors. But now a young generation of architects stood up and decided to develop beautiful housing for workers. Michel de Klerk, Het Schip’s architect, actually said that nothing was beautiful enough for the workers who had lived so long without any beauty. Beside workers’ homes, these architects also made urban plans for the new city areas beyond the centre, and whole neighbourhoods were designed in the Amsterdam School style – luckily, much of these survive.
Architecturally, the Amsterdam School was about brick expressionism. Concrete was a later arrival and was more expensive. However, the way Amsterdam School architects used the brick was Modern. In the Netherlands, you cannot separate Modernism from social housing, because here social housing was a legal issue.

How did De Klerk approach Het Schip?
De Klerk was special in translating rather political ideas into housing. He developed this block as drawings in 1917: the year of the Russian Revolution. The idea that every citizen is equal was a major theme, so you might think, as an architect, that every worker should get the same house. But De Klerk made individual homes for everyone. Het Schip had 102 homes and there were 16 different floorplans. Even in the houses with the same floorplan though, there are unique details like oddly shaped windows. De Klerk saw every person as a unique part of a common society, his architecture stands up for the individual.

How does the Amsterdam School fit in with international Modernism?
Gaudí, Ragnar Östberg, Anton Rosen, Bruno Taut and Frank Lloyd Wright all shared the same ideology, although their buildings looked different. So the resemblance is in ideas, not aesthetics. In 1929, The London Herald published a story about Modernism, and you can see pictures of Gaudí’s La Pedrera and De Klerk’s Dageraad were featured together.
It’s important for us to put the Amsterdam School into an international context, and we are now planning a travelling exhibition about the movement and its international connections.

What’s the biggest threat for 20th-century heritage in Amsterdam today?
Definitely the privatisation of social housing and civic buildings. Although some of them are monuments, they are not protected in every detail. The interiors are especially difficult to protect.

What would you like visitors to notice about Het Schip?
The beauty of the building, the architectural wit, the imagery, the influence of many cultures – and that it was built for the workers!

Jane Szita

Curious about the Iconic Houses Online Event 2021?
Check out the program of lectures and a series of thematic videos about the Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House HERE.
Or register right away HERE.

Updated 22 March 2021