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6th Iconic Houses Conference June 2020

Danish Moderns – Looking Back at Our Mini-Seminar

Venturo house complements Exhibition Centre WeeGee’s offering

Lecture report: Remembering Richard Neutra

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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 [SOLD OUT]

SPECIAL – Hello Netherlands!

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House Tours May 2018 

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September 14 + 15: Heritage Days in Paris

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21 September 2019

Lecture report: Remembering Richard Neutra

  • Museum House, Museum Het Schip, Spaarndammerplantsoen Amsterdam, 1921. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Former Post Office, Michel de Klerk, 1913-1920, Spaarndammerplantsoen, Zaanstraat, Oostzaanstraat, Amsterdam. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Dinner prior to lecture in Museum Het Schip. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Guests having dinner at Museum Het Schip. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Lecture Raymond Neutra. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Lecture Raymond Neutra. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Introduction by Iconic Houses founder Natascha Drabbe. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Raymond Neutra. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Moderator Tracy Metz. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Museum House, Museum Het Schip, Spaarndammerplantsoen Amsterdam, 1921. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Former Post Office, Michel de Klerk, 1913-1920, Spaarndammerplantsoen, Zaanstraat, Oostzaanstraat, Amsterdam. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Dinner prior to lecture in Museum Het Schip. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Guests having dinner at Museum Het Schip. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Lecture Raymond Neutra. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Lecture Raymond Neutra. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Introduction by Iconic Houses founder Natascha Drabbe. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Raymond Neutra. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Moderator Tracy Metz. Photo Gerrit Serné.
  • Photo Gerrit Serné.

On 29 August, Raymond Neutra discussed his father’s relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright, based on research he carried out for his book, Cheap and Thin: Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright, for a sold-out talk at Museum Het Schip. After emigrating to the USA in 1923 to work with Frank Lloyd Wright, Neutra became one of the most influential architects of the last century.

The programme, initiated by Iconic Houses and jointly organized with Museum Het Schip and the John Adams Institute, consisted of a tour of the Amsterdam School museum home with its characteristic tower and the famous De Klerk post office in the Spaarndammerbuurt. A bite to eat followed at the museum, then a visit to the collection and the temporary exhibition of Museum Het Schip.

Raymond Neutra decided to pursue his own career in environmental medicine and epidemiology, but was influenced by his father’s interest in nature, physiology and design. The introduction to Raymond Neutra, by Iconic Houses founder Natascha Drabbe, can be found on the website of The John Adams Institute.

His lecture was illuminated by clips from the new documentary Neutra: Survival Through Design by the American filmmaker PJ Letofsky. And followed by a lively Q&A with him and the audience, moderated by John Adams Institute director Tracy Metz.

Listen to the lecture on the website of the John Adams Institute:

 

We asked Raymond Neutra to report on his visit to the Netherlands.

Raymond Neutra Reports:
In connection with my book Cheap and Thin: Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright, I seized the opportunity on my 2019 trip to Europe, to see the work of other architects who were interested in using economic means to serve low income clients. With the help of Natascha Drabbe, Hans van Heeswijk, Jan Molema, Jos Praat and Peter van der Toorn, I visited early works of Jan Wils, and Jan Duiker near The Hague, Michel de Klerk in Amsterdam and Le Corbusier near Bordeaux. We saw late works of Gerrit Rietveld, private houses Bosschaert in Laren and Van den Doel in Ilpendam, near Amsterdam, and an inspired upgrading of utilitarian 1950’s housing in Bordeaux by Lacaton and Vassal.

I reacted with particular delight to Wils’ 1921 Papaverhof cooperative garden housing in The Hague, Duiker and Bijvoet’s 1931 Derde Ambachtsschool (Technical School) in Scheveningen and Rietveld’s late works. Despite the lack of ornamentation of the sort that titillated me at De Klerk’s Het Schip, Wils has created at Papaverhof a light- filled cozy set of spaces with easy access to the garden and neighborhood. The cooperative that owns the 128 units has been successfully operating for nearly a century.

De Klerk’s Het Schip also broke new ground by providing toilets a kitchen and more room than the grim single room slum dwelling displayed at the Het Schip Museum. However, I experienced them as dark and conventional spaces when compared to Papaverhof.

Le Corbusier’s Cité Frugès near Bordeaux on the other hand had its beginning through the charitable impulse of the industrialist Frugès. This was derailed by the Great Depression with a resulting troubled trajectory. Today some of the units have been faithfully restored while others have been altered in ways that would not please an architectural historian. The strong cubic elevations and the concrete sculptural fireplace and staircase banisters as well as the hoped for unconventional programmatic activities on the rooftops and garden spaces, meant that Le Corbusier’s personality hovered conspicuously over this project more than Wils seemed to me to do at Papaverhof. Lacaton and Vassal have cleverly constructed a connected stack of ample balconies on one side of existing housing blocks to afford residents new space with sliding doors to balconies.

I have been struck by the similar evolution in the intention and formal solutions in the careers of Gerrit Rietveld and my father. I asked Rietveld’s surviving collaborator Bertus Mulder if he ever heard Rietveld comment on my father’s work. He said “no”. Other than their likely meeting when my parents slept at the Schröder House in Utrecht in 1930, I cannot find anything in The Neutra or Rietveld archive suggesting that they communicated after that. Yet their ends and means strike me as eerily similar.

 

Documentary: Neutra Survival by Design, by PJ Letofsky, 2019. A comprehensive documentary into the life, work, and times of Austrian/American Architect Richard Neutra (1892-1970). neutrafilm.com

       


Posted 21 September 2019