NEW SECTION: Toolkit for Owners of a Modern House
13 Aalto Sites Nominated for UNESCO World Heritage
Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House
Business Cards of Stone, Timber and Concrete in the Brussels Region 1830-1970
Villa Beer At Risk
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
July - Iconic Houses Month
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
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
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
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
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
At Home in the 20th Century
New 20th century Iconic Houses website launches
Patrick Weber on Discovering an Unknown Icon
Patrick Weber is associate professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London. We ask him about researching the mysterious Casa Sperimentale with his partner Sabine Storp and Bartlett students – plus other unknown icons.
Can you tell us about your research on Casa Sperimentale?
We came across Casa Sperimentale (1968-78), also known as the Casa Albero – ‘the Treehouse’ – in 2014, on an Instagram post by a fashion photographer. We were intrigued because we didn’t know it and no one else had heard of it. Initially we just wanted to find out what it was. But it seems the longer we research it, the more opaque the building’s history becomes. We’re certain the research project has just begun.
What approach and methods are you using?
We’re currently collecting different aspects of the building’s history. Very little scholarly research been undertaken, most of the published stories are just made up. Our research collects first-hand stories through interviews, we are building up an archive of information for further research, and we are working with 3D scanning to document the current state of the structure, which is very fragile. The 3D scanning can form the basis of an immersive VR dataset allowing a virtual visit to the building without putting more strain on the actual structure. We are also working on a speculative project exploring the ideas behind it.
What would you like the outcome of the documentation to be?
Ideally, we would like the building to be saved and made accessible to the interested public.
Too many stories around the Casa Sperimentale are just not correct –they are often based on speculation or misinformation. We would like to set up an online archive to collect all information around the building, the architects and the wider social and cultural context that led to its creation.
|3D scan of Casa Sperimentale by StorpWeber. Architects Giuseppe Perugini, Uga de Plaisant and Raynaldo Perugini.|
In general, what role can universities play in heritage house preservation?
Fortunately, the Bartlett allows us to pursue our own research interests. It helps to draw on the resources of the institution to explore different aspects of the history of the building.
Why is Casa Sperimentale so important?
Our research has shown that the Casa Sperimentale is first of all not a Brutalist building – it is quite the opposite. It was conceived as an experiment to explore design ideas developed by Giuseppe Perugini and his former teacher Bruno Zevi. Our research seeks to correctly situate the building in the correct place in post-war Italian architecture.
The nature of the experiment was to explore different ways of design – its importance is in the way it was created.
What’s next for you in terms of iconic houses? Are you planning more documentation projects like this one?
The Casa Sperimentale is one of our ‘pet projects’ – something we work on as a hobby. The other one is the relatively unknown Unité by Le Corbusier in Briey – the one they never publish. This project is a building that has been at risk, having been under threat of demolition in 1987. Since then the residents have transformed it into a collection of homes, very few following the Le Corbusier lifestyle.
Since being involved with the building many more ‘unknown’ structures have suddenly popped up on our radar, many of them located in Italy.
Maybe there is something about experimental buildings, and buildings that on the surface appear to be failures, that resonates with us.
Do you have a favourite example of a young (post-1965) heritage house?
Our favourite house at the moment isn’t a house yet, and it might never be one. We visited Keisuke Oka’s Arimaston House, an experimental concrete project, in Tokyo last year. He has been building it for the last 15 years – much like Casa Sperimentale – in an organic way with little or no plans, just following his intuition. This will be a building to watch out for in the future.
|Arimaston Building. Photo: Ryudai Takano. Courtesy Yumiko Chiba Associates Zeit-Foto Salon.|
What are the biggest threats to iconic houses right now?
Talking about the Casa Sperimentale over the last couple of years has shown us how little it is known by fellow architects. And the ones who know it do not know any of the background behind its creation. Owning an iconic piece of architecture can be a blessing but it can definitely be a burden. The financial impact of the upkeep of an icon is challenging. An effort to list a building to preserve it for the future can have a detrimental impact on a project, as it affects the ability of the owner to make it work for them and to earn its upkeep. As usual it is not just enough to list something, it needs a carefully considered approach.
What are the biggest opportunities for museum houses right now?
Safety is always in numbers, in getting organized, in pooling resources. The Iconic Houses network is a fantastic opportunity and an important platform for buildings that are at risk.
You found Casa Sperimentale on Instagram. Any thoughts on social media?
Sadly, the longer we work on the project the more we have to conclude that Instagram geotagging is detrimental to it, it attracts more visitors all looking for the Instagram shot for their followers. Are we part of the problem?
Patrick recommends watching the trailer of BUTOHOUSE - a film by Ilya Bêka & Louise Lemoine.
Curious about the Iconic Houses Online Event 2021?
Check out the program of lectures, expert meetings and videoseries about The Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House HERE
Updated 22 March 2021