neutraVDL
About the Site: Overview
The VDL Research House is a paradigm of Neutra’s perceptions and beliefs. Harwell Hamilton Harris, upon receiving the Neutra Medal in 1982 from California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, reminisced about what Neutra saw as “the coming shape of man’s organized life. He (Neutra) anticipated technology’s effect on society and he proclaimed architecture’s role in enabling man to survive technology. What he saw, he said both in buildings and in words.” Neutra’s most important book, Survival Through Design (originally published in 1954, re-issued in 1984 by Dion Neutra), gives us his theory; the VDL Research House gives us his example.

Looking across Silver Lake reservoir to the opposite eastern shore one could see, by the end of 1933, a recently completed radically “modern” two-story house: a markedly horizontal composition with a repetition of identical casement windows running from edge to edge of its box-like form; a simple volume defined by a skin like enclosure and capped by a thin flat roof plane; a façade without the distractions of color or ornament. This house was the embodiment of then current European avant-garde design scarcely known to the people of Los Angeles. Its architect was equally unknown. Yet in years hence his name became famous and his works associated with modern architecture in California. This house was Richard Neutra’s own, his third building in America and the house in which he was to live and work for nearly three decades.

Mrs. Dione Neutra wrote her impressions after living in the new house in June 1970 shortly after Richard Neutra’s death:
“Only those, who have lived in a Neutra House, would ever understand how wonderful the daily satisfactions and delights are and how much this experience helps to augment the joy of living. This is especially the case in this house, which is built on three levels. With the many glass surfaces, mirrors, pools that reflect trees and flowers, every step from room to room, stairway up and down, is an aesthetic and artist experience, which I have the good fortune to enjoy, while I move about the house and watch the changing weather. I credit much of this satisfaction to the detailed efforts of my son, Dion, who spent the better part of two years in daily supervision and design of the rebuilt version of this house, which has so many enrichments in comparison to its predecessor of the early ‘30s. I have been asked whether I would not like to live out my last years in my hometown of Zurich. No, I don’t think I would, even if I could transplant this house; the climate is simply too bad in Europe in comparison with the one here, despite occasional smog. I have a marvelous music room here with the excellent grand piano on which my father played for 70 years...”


For information on the Social History of the Neutra VDL Compound visit http://www.neutrahistory.org
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