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Richard Neutra’s Studio and Residence by Raymond Neutra

Redactie

Het Van Schijndelhuis in Utrecht organiseert in samenwerking met Filmtheater ’t Hoogt een reeks filmvertoningen over iconische huizen en hun architecten. Voorafgaande aan de film is er een inleidende lezing. In deze aflevering van ArchiTV de lezing die Raymond Neutra gaf over het VDL Research House van zijn vader Richard Neutra.

In the Iconic Houses lecture series Raymond Neutra, the son of modernist architect Richard Neutra (1892-1970) gave a talk on 14 April 2013. The lecture took at the Van Schijndel House in Utrecht, the Netherlands. A film about the VDL Research House accompanied the lecture. The career evolution of influential modernist architect Richard Neutra, who was active in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles, can be best seen in the various modifications and reconstructions of his VDL Research House (sometimes known as the Van der Leeuw House) over the course of four decades.

The home was built in 1932, with the support of Dutch businessman Cees van der Leeuw: the 'VDL ' of its name is a tribute to him. As the director of the Van Nelle factory in Rotterdam, Van der Leeuw often travelled to America and was much impressed by the houses that Neutra built for his clients. Neutra and his family, however, lived with his Austrian colleague, Rudolph Schindler. Van der Leeuw thought that the promising young Neutra deserved the chance to design his own house, and provided the money (as an interest-free loan) for him to do it.

The original compact design of the house in 1932 exemplified Neutra's seminal early work before the 1939 addition of the backyard garden house embodied the new necessity of indoor/outdoor living for the growing family. Then, when the original house was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in the 1960s by Richard and his son Dion, who is also an architect, it became the quintessence of environmental, climate-sensitive design. Hundreds of projects were designed there, launching the careers of many renowned architects. The site became a cultural and political salon, attracting some of the world's most prominent thinkers. Yet today the house is in danger of significant decay. 


Over the last 35 years, Neutra's youngest son Raymond has travelled the world to connect with his father's buildings, their owners and their occupants. He offers a unique perspective on his father's work, and is also devoted to the preservation of modernist works all over the world.

Raymond Neutra is the secretary of the Friends of the Neutra VDL Research Site. Following his retirement from a career in public health, he is actively engaged in the preservation of his former home, which his mother bequeathed to California's Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design in 1990. His lectures raise awareness and funds for the restoration of the VDL Studio/Residences. The Utrecht lecture will describe the ongoing efforts to restore the VDL compound, including the philosophical issues encountered during the project.