Icons of the Czech Avantgarde
Sleep in a Modernist Gem – Huis Billiet in Bruges
Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Van Eesteren House Museum
Welcome Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky Zentrum in Vienna!
Register Now: 7th International Iconic Houses Conference
Welcome Vila Volman! Jewel of Czech Functionalism
Movie Night: Adolf Loos- Revolutionary Among Architects
Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House - 25 June 2023 in Centraal Museum Utrecht
'Inside Iconic Houses' Case Study House #26 Webcast in Webshop
Inside Iconic Houses at Taut’s Home in Berlin
Rediscovering Forgotten Loos Interiors in Pilsen
'Inside Iconic Houses' - Online Tour Program
Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - The Diagoon House
Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Rietveld Schröder House
Rietveld Houses Owners Association
Corberó Space: New Life for Hidden Jewel
Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Pierre Cuypers' House and Workshops
Reeuwijk Celebrates Completion of Restoration Rietveld Homes!
Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Van Doesburg Rinsema House
Welcome Rietveld's Van Daalen House!
Architect Harry Gessner Passed Away at 97
Watch Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House Now On Demand
Icon Saved: Dorchester Drive House
Welcome Umbrella House!
Iconic Houses in the Netherlands – Berlage’s Masterpiece
Welcome Atelier Volten!
SPECIAL – Iconic Dreams - Sleep in an Iconic House!
SPECIAL - Vacances en France!
SPECIAL - Casas Icónicas en España!
SPECIAL – German Greats!
SPECIAL – Dutch Delights!
SPECIAL – Northern (High)Lights!
Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Het Schip
Inside Iconic Houses - Tour of Maison Cazenave
Inside Iconic Houses Tours Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami
Casa Masó Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary
Inside Iconic Houses tours Roland Reisley's Usonian Frank Lloyd Wright House
Rietveld’s Experimental Housing in Reeuwijk Saved
Serralves Villa after restoration
Portraits of the Architect - Interview with Gennaro Postiglione
Test Labs for New Ideas - Interview with Natascha Drabbe
Inside Iconic Houses - Isokon Building
Inside Iconic Houses - 16 December: Sunnylands with Janice Lyle
BCN-BXL Coderch-De Koninck - Beyond Time
New Chairman Architect Nanne de Ru on The Perfect Platform
Health and Home - Interview with Beatriz Colomina
A Life Less Ordinary – Interview with Valentijn Carbo
Invisible Women - Interview with Alice T. Friedman
Winy Maas on the Green Dip
Anita Blom on Experimental Housing of the 1970s
Women’s Worlds - Interview with Natalie Dubois
The Culture of Living - Interview with Robert von der Nahmer
Hetty Berens: A Fresh Take on Modernism
Niek Smit on Supporting Modern Heritage
Alice Roegholt on Amsterdam’s Working-Class Palaces
July is Iconic Houses Month
Hans van Heeswijk on The Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House
Wessel de Jonge on Dutch Icons at Risk
Save Maison Zilveli - Sign the Petition!
How a Building Tells a Story - Recorded Event
Toolkit for Owners of a Modern House
13 Aalto Sites Nominated for UNESCO World Heritage
Villa Beer At Risk - Sign the Petition!
Business Cards of Stone, Timber and Concrete in the Brussels Region 1830-1970
Exhibiting & Visiting Modernist Monuments
Fostering Well-Researched Responsible Design
ICONS AT RISK
Enjoy a virtual visit to the California House and a Q&A with architect Peter Gluck
Exhibition 'Modernism and Refuge'
A Hidden Gem of Postmodernism
New Centre for Historic Houses of India
An Online Chronicle of the Douglas House
Villa Henny, geometric style icon in The Netherlands
A Mendini temple in Amsterdam
IH-lectures USA & Canada Feb 2020 on Melnikov House
Sponsors and Friends
An Afternoon with the Glucks
Chandler McCoy on Making Modern Houses Sustainable
Catherine Croft: Getting Away from the Demolition Mentality in the UK
Patrick Weber on Discovering an Unknown Icon
Fiona Fisher on Iconic Interiors
Jocelyn Bouraly on Villa Cavrois
Mireia Massagué on finding success through a new kind of partnership
Danish Moderns – Looking Back at Our Mini-Seminar
Venturo house complements Exhibition Centre WeeGee’s offering
Lecture report: Remembering Richard Neutra
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
SPECIAL – Iconic Artist Residencies
Our Badge of Honour
SPECIAL – Women & Iconic Houses
SPECIAL – Iconic Housing
Iconic Houses End Year Message
City-ordered rebuild of landmark house stirs debate: Appropriate or overreach?
Kohlberg House Restoration in Progress
Planned Demolition of Rietveld Homes in Reeuwijk
Renovation Gili House in Crisis
An Iconic Saga
Restoring Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 and Clarifying the Controversies
Modernism on the East Coast
Iconic Houses in Latin America
House Tours May 2018
Natascha Drabbe - Iconic Houses: The Next Chapter
Terence Riley -KEYNOTE SPEAKER- on Philip Johnson
New era for Villa E-1027 and Cap Moderne
Hilary Lewis on Philip Johnson and his Glass House
John Arbuckle on Great House Tours
William D. Earls on the Harvard Five in New Canaan
Stover Jenkins on Working for Philip Johnson
Frederick Noyes on his Father’s House
Scott Fellows and Craig Bassam on their Passion for Preservation
Jorge Liernur -KEYNOTE SPEAKER- on Latin American Modernism(s)
Fabio Grementieri on Modernism in Argentina
Catalina Corcuera Cabezut on Casa Luis Barragán
Renato Anelli on Lina Bo Bardi’s Casa de Vidro
Tim McClimon on Corporate Preservation
Amanda Nelson on Building Donor Relationships
John Bacon on Planned Giving
Jean-Paul Warmoes on the Art of Fundraising in America
Chandler McCoy on Why Less is More
Katherine Malone-France on Moving with the Times
Anne Mette Rahbæk on Philanthropic Investments and Preservation
Peter McMahon on Saving Modern Houses on Cape Cod
Toshiko Kinoshita on Japanese Modern Heritage Houses
Roland Reisley on Life in a Frank Lloyd Wright House
5th Iconic Houses Conference May 2018
Kristin Stone, Pasadena Tour Company
Restoring the past: The Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Home Studio
Behind the Scenes: Hendrick de Keyser Association
Crosby Doe, Architecture for Sale
Latin America Special – Focus on Mexico
De Stijl in Drachten
Preserving the Nancarrow House-Studio
Meet the Friends - Nanne de Ru
Latin America Special – Focus on Brazil
Jan de Jong’s House is Latest Hendrick de Keyser Acquisition
Stay in a Belgian Modernist Masterpiece
In Berlin’s Modernist Network
Rietveld-Schröder House Celebrates De Stijl Anniversary
Meet Our New Foundation Board Members
Maintaining Aalto's Studio – Linoleum Conservation
Virtual Tour of a Papaverhof Home in 3D
Getty Grant for Villa E-1027
Plečnik House in Ljubljana
Iconic Houses: A Bohemian Road Trip
Work in Progress: Capricho de Gaudí
11 Le Corbusier Homes now on Unesco World Heritage List
At home with Le Corbusier
Henry van de Velde’s Study in Haus Hohe Pappeln Restored
Lynda Waggoner reports
A Conference to Remember
4th International Iconic Houses Conference
Guest of Honor - Harry Gesner
Fallingwater: European Lecture Tour
Wright Plus 2016 Walk
Susan Macdonald, Getty Conservation Institute
John Mcllwee, Garcia House
Meet the Friends – Elisabeth Tostrup
Iconic Houses: The Story So Far
Willie van Burgsteden, designer Iconic Houses
Buff Kavelman, Philanthropic Advisor
Meet the Friends - Frederick Noyes
Sheridan Burke, GML Heritage
Meet the Friends - Raymond Neutra
Sidney Williams, Frey House
Franklin Vagnone and Deborah Ryan, Museum Anarchists
Meet the Friends - James Haefner
Toshiko Mori, architect
Malachi Connolly, Cape Cod Modern House Trust
Meet the Friends - Penny Sparke
Lucia Dewey Atwood, Eames House
Cory Buckner, Mutual Housing Site Office
Jeffrey Herr, Hollyhock House
Speaking Volumes: Building the Iconic Houses Library
Sarah Lorenzen, Neutra VDL Studio and Residences
Ted Bosley, Gamble House
Keeping It Modern - Getty Conservation Grants
Meet the Friends - Thomas Schönauer
Wim de Wit, Stanford University
Linda Dishman, Los Angeles Conservancy
Jesse Lattig, Pasadena Heritage
Join us in Los Angeles! Update
Work in Progress: Casa Vicens
Work in Progress: Van Wassenhove House
Work in Progress: Villa Cavrois
Work in Progress: The Pearlroth House
Third Iconic Houses Conference a huge success
Conference House Tours Barcelona
Marta Lacambra, Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera
Natascha Drabbe, Iconic Houses Foundation
Special speaker Oscar Tusquets
Jordi Tresserras, UNESCO Network ‘Culture, tourism and development’
Christen Obel, Utzon Foundation
Elena Ruiz Sastre, Casa Broner
Fernando Alvarez Prozorovich, La Ricarda
Tim Benton, Professor of Art History (Emeritus)
Susana Landrove, Docomomo Spain
Rossend Casanova, Casa Bloc
Conference Program 25 November 2014
Jordi Falgàs, Casa Rafael Masó
Documentary La Ricarda
Marga Viza, Casa Míla/La Pedrera
Celeste Adams, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust
Conference 25 November 2014 at La Pedrera
Henry Urbach, The Glass House
Victoria & Albert Museum London November 12
Tommi Lindh, new director of the Alvar Aalto Foundation and Museum
Iveta Černá, Villa Tugendhat
Lynda Waggoner, Fallingwater
Kimberli Meyer, MAK Center
Rent a house designed by Gerrit Rietveld
Barragán House on Screen
Gesamtkunstwerk – An Icon on the Move
Triennale der Moderne 27 September - 13 October 2013
Prestigious Art Nouveau mansions in Brussels open
September 14 + 15: Heritage Days in Paris
June's New Arrivals: Museum Apartments
Iconic Houses is now on Twitter and Facebook
Corbu’s Cabanon: Reconstruction and Lecture
Projekt Mies In Krefeld: Life-sized model of the Krefeld Clubhouse
New arrivals: Spain special
MAMO: Le Corbu’s ‘Park in the Sky’ open 12 June
Taut's Home wins Europa Nostra Award
Annual Wright Architectural Housewalk: 18 May
Frank Lloyd Wright Homes on Screen
Message from the Editor
Neutra’s House on Screen
Michel Richard, Fondation Le Corbusier
Symposium The Public and the Modern House
Melnikov House on Screen
Iconic Houses in the media
Message from the Editor
Round Table Review
Eileen Gray House on Screen
At Home in the 20th Century
New 20th century Iconic Houses website launches
Philippe Bélaval, Centre des monuments nationaux
Preserving the Nancarrow House-Studio
The Nancarrow House, photographed by Marco Velasco.
Adriana Sandoval makes an eloquent case for the importance of Juan O’Gorman’s last building – now at a critical juncture in its history – in the architectural and cultural heritage of Latin America.
The work and studio of Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997), and the residential home of the Nancarrow-Sugiura family, the Nancarrow House-Studio displays an architectural design that is linear, understated, functional and perfectly integrated with the landscaping. In the two phases of its creation, Juan O'Gorman (1905-1987), the architect in charge of most of the design, made this his first attempt at an organic architecture (1948), as well as the conclusion of his long career in building construction (1972).
Seen as a historical site, the Nancarrow House is where Conlon Nancarrow created his musical output. In the house’s studio this genius of multiple tempos installed and began to use the two mechanical pianos that allowed him to develop his compositions and the unique artistic personality that continues to amaze musicians, researchers, specialists and the public at large. At Nancarrow, he was also visited by fellow composers like Aaron Copland (1900-1990) and John Cage (1912-1992) from the USA, along with many others from Mexico and the rest of the world. It was in this same studio that the first recordings were made which led to Nancarrow’s music becoming known in Europe and the USA.
The artistic concepts which Juan O’Gorman brought to the design of the Nancarrow House-Studio combine the sense of light, austerity and understatement seen in his other works, such as the studios for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo (1932), along with the intensity and poetry of two of his most famous works of the 1950s; his own house-studio at Av. San Jerónimo (1) and the Central Library (2) at the National University, a building that was declared a Patrimony of Humanity in 2007 along with the University’s main campus.
(1) House of Juan O'Gorman, 1952, San Jerónimo 162, Coyoacán, Mexico City (destroyed).
(2) Central Library, by Juan O'Gorman, Juan Martinez de Velasco and Gustavo Saavedra, 1952, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, Mexico City.
An important architect
Juan O’Gorman occupies an important position in 20th-century architecture. He revolutionized architecture in Mexico and Latin America with the construction of the first totally functionalist house and living space (1929), and he is considered one of the few organic architects from this region whose work appeared in professional publications in the 1950s. In the first stage of its construction, the exterior of Nancarrow was decorated with murals of natural coloured stone, making it the second place in Mexico City where one can visit a unique visual and design by O’Gorman (the other being the stone mosaic murals of the Central Library). Also, the fact that the second stage of its construction marks O’Gorman’s last architectural work makes it invaluable not only from a chronological perspective but also, in terms of its design, as a concluding statement of an intensely personal architectural aesthetic.
Juan O’Gorman’s authorship also connects the Nancarrow House with the Anahuacalli House-Studio of Diego Rivera (3); the Study of Frida Kahlo (4), the Hotel Posada in Taxco, Guerrero; the Convention Center in San Antonio (5), Texas and the Tupahue Spa in Santiago, Chile (the latter two being his only works outside Mexico). These creations present architectural solutions in the case of the Anahuacalli building and decorative and dimensional ones in the other examples.
(3) Museo Anahuacalli by Diego Rivera and Juan O'Gorman,1964, Coyoacan, Mexico City.
(4) Studio of Frida Kahlo by Juan O'Gorman and Diego Rivera, 1944, Coyoacan, Mexico City.
(5) Lila Cockrell Theater, San Antonio, Texas by Juan O'Gorman, San Antonio Texas, U.S.A.
Friendship and dialogue
Another aspect of the house and studio is more personal: the long-standing friendship between Conlon Nancarrow and Juan O’Gorman, an ongoing dialogue between two personalities with highly defined critical visions who each revolutionized the intellectual scene in the 20th century thanks to their creativity and humanism. Contemporary Mexico has a rich and invaluable history, and the Nancarrow-Sugiura family’s own ongoing efforts to preserve the house make it possible for us to understand, in great detail, the complex musical world that Conlon Nancarrow created. It reflects a dialogue between two exceptional individuals, Juan O’Gorman and Conlon Nancarrow – a dialogue which is manifested in a magnificent architectural work. It offers posterity an experience of a deep sense of the modern fusion of two artistic disciplines, and allows us the opportunity to understand a lesser-known aspect of Mexico’s historical legacy.
An architectural high point
The first construction phase of the Nancarrow House-Studio, situated in the middle part of Juan O’Gorman’s ample body of architectural work, contains the symbolism that he developed to its maximum expression on the walls of the Central Library of the National University. This makes it a second location where one can appreciate this decorative technique, representing a unique and original achievement at the beginning of the second half of the 20th century in Mexico. In a parallel way, the Nancarrow House-Studio is similar in its relevance to the first functionalist house that O'Gorman created in 1929, since, without a doubt, it’s in this property created for Conlon Nancarrow that O’Gorman – for the first time – realized an organic residential design style. This presaged the even more radical residential statement that was O’Gorman’s own house-studio in San Jerónimo, which no longer exists.
The Nancarrow House-Studio is laid out on an irregular plot of land with a semi-humid climate. House and setting are integrated into a unified whole via the height of the walls, linear forms, the transparency of the large windows, the façades covered with colourful volcanic rock, along with an ‘amiable’ relationship with the flora and fauna of the region. Austere in its design, it evokes Mexican vernacular architecture and its shapes echo a classic Meso-American style. The Nancarrow House-Studio embodies these aspects with its attractive crenellations and its stately ‘tableaus’ with their pre-Hispanic symbolism, thus making it a work of multi-faceted interest and value.
The influence of Fallingwater
The importance of Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) should be stressed as an influence on O’Gorman’s developments in the field of organic architecture. By 1939, O’Gorman already knew the (at that time) newly built house designed by Wright in Pennsylvania: Fallingwater. This came about because of a non-executed commission offered by Edgar Kaufmann of a mural painting for the Jude Youth Cultural Association in Pittsburgh.
O’Gorman underscored, more than once, the profound and positive impressions he had of Wright’s architectural skills after having visited the weekend house owned by the Kaufmanns. This impression was derived essentially from two important factors. The first was the successful and harmonic integration of men and environment as a guideline of architectural design and construction. The second was the importance and influence, which pre-Columbian and, principally, Mayan architecture had on Frank Lloyd Wright. The construction of mostly horizontal buildings, the use of colours and the planned architectural integration between construction and garden sound some similarities between early living spaces by Wright and the Conlon Nancarrow House-Studio by O’Gorman. At the same time, these similarities renew the participation of Latin America in the development of architecture in an intrinsic way, concerning a renewal of identity after the colonization and independence wars of countries across the continent.
Preserving the house for the future
Nowadays, the Conlon Nancarrow House-Studio is in a period of transition. The Nancarrow-Sugiura family is trying to find someone to take care and preserve the house. Ideally, the property would find a new public or private owner dedicated to preserving and using the house and its inner spaces as a whole. It might be presented as a centre of investigation, documentation, and student or academic stays; or it might be used as forum for concerts, exhibitions, conferences, or for academic and cultural purposes in general. The Nancarrow-Sugiura family does not reject the idea of the house being sold to a private individual, insofar as this does not present an obstacle to its preservation.
Long after its construction, the Nancarrow House-Studio is still in an excellent state of preservation, having only undergone a few modifications due to the health problems Nancarrow faced near the end of his life. Whoever (along with academic and cultural institutions) would assist in the acquisition and official designation of the Nancarrow House-Studio, could give a new boost to the national image, by contributing to the preservation of a specific and important period in the history of Latin American and Mexican architecture. This is being studied these days with great interest in our universities, as well as in the United States, Spain and Japan.
It would also mark a new investigative approach to the study of the tangible legacy of both Juan O’Gorman himself and of Conlon Nancarrow, not only as important figures in the creative scene of the 20th century, but also from a more personal and human perspective. Objectively speaking, the Nancarrow House-Studio can be understood as something of a ‘missing link’ in the study of the life and work of both Conlon Nancarrow and Juan O’Gorman – one which clarifies certain gaps in our understanding of both artists.
Similarly, the present document might serve to the purpose of establishing contact between Mexican and international communities which are interested in preserving important buildings of the 20th century. This document is addressed also to private individuals, who might be interested in knowing more details about the house and its history.
We still have time to avoid the errors of history – as in 1969, when Juan O’Gorman’s San Jerónimo House-Studio was destroyed. We still have the possibility of affirming the Nancarrow-Sugiura family’s intention that their efforts to preserve the Nancarrow House-Studio be taken over by a public institution with ample capabilities for continuing and expanding its preservation. Let us not forget too that we have the possibility of rescuing from historical oblivion the legacy of men like Conlon Nancarrow and Juan O’Gorman, who revolutionized the world around them, technically, aesthetically and in terms of human values.
Adriana Sandoval, of the Foundation Project Conlon Nancarrow House-Studio, is a professor and researcher in Mexican art and architecture and a specialist in the work of Juan O'Gorman.
Juan O'Gorman selfportrait, 1950, fragment.
Juan O'Gorman in the studio of his house in San Jerónimo by Juan Guzmán, 1950
Publication date 5 July 2017