A Richard Neutra Penthouse in Your Own Backyard?

The Spanish manufacturer Kettal is reviving a design by the California Modernist, offering it in a penthouse and pavilion format.

VDL Pavilion
Next year, the Spanish manufacturer Kettal will roll out replicas of a Richard Neutra design—the penthouse of the architect’s VDL Research House II in Los Angeles. Two versions will be made available: This one, the VDL Pavilion, removes the glass walls to create an open folly. Courtesy Kettal

The Modernist architect Richard Neutra designed dozens of homes in and around his adopted city of Los Angeles, each one invariably rational, limpid, and generous. These qualities were underscored by Neutra’s wife, Dione, when, later in life, she wrote how “[o]nly 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.”

That small pool of privileged homeowners is set to grow, as Barcelona manufacturer Kettal has unveiled its plans to produce replicas of a veritable Neutra jewel box.

Based on the penthouse crowning the architect’s VDL Research House II in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood, the release has the endorsement of Neutra’s son Dion, who was at first hesitant about the venture, says Kettal president Alex Alorda. “He was surprised by the idea, but he picked up on it very fast. We went step-by-step together.”

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After the first incarnation of the VDL House caught fire in 1963, Richard and Dion worked closely to rebuild the structure while improving it in subtle ways. The Kettal renditions (two versions will be made available) reproduce these details while bringing the house technologically up to date. Because what is the joy of living without smart home systems?

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