A unique resource for travellers and lovers of 20th century houses is now online at iconichouses.org
On 5 November, life will get easier for fans of 20th century domestic architecture with the launch of a new resource. The Iconic Houses website, with its handy map interface, identifies dozens of iconic modern houses around the world – most of them open to visitors and some even accommodating overnight guests. The website will be followed shortly by an app for the iPhone and iPad.
The website is the initiative of Natascha Drabbe, architectural historian and owner and curator of the Van Schijndel House in the Netherlands. Finding herself in charge of an iconic home, she set out to find out about others. Her research led to the formation of the Iconic Houses Network, a group of modern house museum curators dedicated to preserving significant houses and sharing knowledge and expertise, and to the launch of the site. “No resource existed before to help people locate and visit these unique houses,” says Drabbe. “Now, if you’re visiting Paris, for example, our site allows you to see that you’re close to the only house Alvar Aalto built outside Finland. This information wasn’t so easy to come by before.”
IconicHouses.org lists a hundred landmark houses from the 20th century by location, together with background information on their creators and related news stories. A high number of new submissions is expected, and to deal with these the network has developed stringent selection criteria. “We only want to list the best of the bunch,” Drabbe says. The best include the unmissable big names like Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Schindler House, the Alvar Aalto House and Unesco-listed Villa Tugendhat by Mies van der Rohe, but visitors to IconicHouses.org can also discover hidden gems, such as Geoffrey Bawa’s Colombo residence in Sri Lanka, where visitors can also stay overnight.
By linking travel and 20th century houses, the Iconic Houses Network hopes that the new site will increase not only visitor numbers, but also the awareness of the difficulty of what Natascha Drabbe calls, ‘keeping these houses alive’ in times of scarce funding, understaffing and even, sometimes, the threat of demolition. “Experiencing the houses is the most important thing,” she says. “The Iconic Houses site wants to ensure that people can continue to do that.”
Quotes from members of the Iconic Houses Network:
Kimberli Meyer, director of the MAK Center at the Schindler House in Los Angeles:
‘The need for a comprehensive, online, worldwide information bank on significant works of twentieth century architect’s houses is indisputable.’
Lynda Waggoner, director of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous creation, Fallingwater:
‘By sharing information on management and preservation we think all the sites will benefit.’
Susanna Pettersson, Alvar Aalto Foundation, Finland:
‘The network allows us to share experiences and professional expertise and increases the global visibility of these fantastic sites.’
Director Susanna Pettersson, firstname.lastname@example.org,
tel. +358 40 7360 699, Alvar Aalto Foundation/ Alvar Aalto Museum
Producer Tomi Summanen, email@example.com, tel. +358 44 555 7337, Alvar Aalto Museum
ICONIC HOUSES NETWORK wishes to thank its ambassadors: Aaron Betsky Director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, director of the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale 2008 (USA). Jean-Louis Cohen Professor, Architecture Theoretician (France/USA). Kenneth Frampton Architect, critic, historian and the Ware Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University New York (USA).Wessel de Jonge Co-founder of DOCOMOMO international (Netherlands). Mateo Kries, director Vitra Design Museum (Germany). Glen Murcutt, Architect, 2002 Pritzker Architecture Prize Winner (Australia). Raymond Neutra Son of famed architect Richard Neutra (USA). Richard Meier Architect, 1984 Pritzker Architecture Prize Winner (USA).