Today we want to invite you to explore five of the most iconic houses in the world. These buildings were originally conceived as houses but, because of their spectacular and modern design, have entered the realm of art and have inspired a great number of architects. The design of these houses is so exquisite and well executed that most of them have been classified as monuments and become museums. These houses do not just belong to the “places to visit” section in our bucket list, they are also places where we would like to live, at least for a while. And why not? Dreaming is free.
Casa Rietveld Schröder
Gerrit Rietveld 1924
The Rietveld Schröder house is one of the most iconic examples of the Dutch artistic movement De Stijl. This avant-garde movement postulated that architecture should be taken as an extension of painting, and favored abstract and pure forms against figurative ones. It is not by chance that this house is considered to be the architectural equivalent of a painting by Mondrian, one of the founders of the movement. One of the most radical aspects of its design is the architectural conception of space in the first floor, conceived as a single open plan space that could be transformed at will using a clever system of sliding panels. In 2000, the Rietveld Schröder was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Le Corbusier 1928-1931
This Corbusier master piece is located in the Parisian suburb of Poissy and is acknowledged to be one of the first buildings designed in the International Style, a style that would become widely known from the 1930s onwards. The house was built using reinforced concrete and embodied the five architectural principles detailed by Le Corbusier in his famous manifesto, The Five Points of a New Architecture: structural load borne by columns or pilotis rather than supporting walls, roof garden, free ground plan due to lack of walls, horizontal windows along entire length, and free façade. Villa Saboye was declared a National Monument in 1965 and now belongs to the French State.
Frank Lloyd Wright 1936-1939
Fallingwater House, also known as the Kauffmann Residence, was a commission from businessman and philanthropist Edgard J. Kaufman to already sexagenarian Frank Lloyd Wright. The distinguished architect designed the house as a sublime example of the style that he termed “organic architecture”: buildings harmonizing with people and their environment and conceived as a projection of nature. Fallingwater House is a three-storey building with cantilevered terraces that “fly” over the running stream below, giving the impression that the house has been miraculously built over the water. Its sleek, sophisticated design and its seamless integration into an environment of great beauty make of it a work of art, one which the American Institute of Architects labelled “the best work of American Architecture of all time”.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 1945-1951
This exquisite project by Mies van der Rohe is considered to be one of the paradigms of International Style. Subject of much controversy in the 50s, it was one of the first “glass boxes” to be used for housing and prior to the famous Glass House by Philip Johnson. The house is structured as a rectangular prism in which all the walls are made from glass and is supported by eight 1.5m iron columns that give it the appearance of being suspended above the water. Its clean lines and seeming simplicity perfectly achieve its designer’s objective of building a house that is seamlessly integrated with its surroundings.
The Glass House
Philip Johnson 1945-1949
The Glass House by Philip Johnson was built at the same time as House Fansworth, by Johnson’s mentor and teacher Mies van der Rohe, but it shows a much more radical approach to modern architecture. The house is a glass prism framed within a very light steel structure that surrounds the single, open plan space that makes the interior. The only structure within it is a red brick cylinder that encloses the bathroom and a fireplace. Johnson, who lived in the Glass House until his death in 2005, boasted that his glass house was “the only house in the world where you can see the sunset and the moonrise at the same time, standing in the same place”.
What all these houses have in common is a radical and avant-garde design at the time of their conception, but there are many other houses that we have not been able to include in this article. Which other buildings would you add to this list? Let us know your opinion in the comments section and don’t forget to share this article in social media.
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