Introduction Natascha Drabbe to Raymond Neutra


Good evening everyone,

How nice to see so many familiar faces, and also plenty of new ones!

Alice Roegholt, the director of this fantastic museum and the driving force behind the promotion of The Amsterdam School as an architectural style and this masterpiece, Het Schip in particular, cannot be with us tonight because her missionary work now brings her to Japan. And that is why I am taking over her role as your host.

My name is Natascha Drabbe. I’m an architectural historian and the founding director of the Iconic Houses Foundation. I lived in the early 90’s in Utrecht with my first husband, the architect Mart van Schijndel, in the house that he had designed for himself. After his premature death in 1999, I was given responsibility for the house and I gave guided tours on request in order to keep his ideas alive.

This led to the establishment of a network of 20th-century house museums, the Iconic Houses Network. Het Schip and the house in Los Angeles that architect Richard Neutra built for his family, the VDL House, are both members of this worldwide network. The VDL House became a National Historic Landmark in 2017.

This evening’s event came about when Neutra’s son Raymond emailed me to say he would be in the Netherlands this week for a conference, and that he could give a talk about his father’s work in relation to Frank Lloyd Wright – if anyone was interested… Of course we’re interested! How much closer can you get to history, than by hearing the story from someone who lived it?! Raymond wrote a book about it, Cheap and Thin, and recently gave a lecture in the US for the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.

Although born in Vienna, Richard Neutra is considered an American architect. So I immediately thought of the John Adams Institute, with which we had previously organized two lectures on American architecture, the Glass House and Fallingwater. And Het Schip seemed like the ideal venue.

The director of the John Adams, Tracy Metz, is our moderator tonight. You may know her as a journalist at the NRC, from her talkshow Stadsleven and as the author of many books she wrote, such as Sweet&Salt (2013) about the water management of the Dutch. She recently wrote in NRC about another house in our Iconic Houses Network, the Casa Orgánica in Mexico City.

About this evening’s program:

We start with Raymond Neutra’s lecture, followed by a sneak preview of a few film clips that have never been shown before from a new documentary by PJ Letofsky called Neutra: Survival Through Design (after a book that Neutra wrote about his ideas in the early 1950s). The documentary will premiere in the Netherlands in October at the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam – so we have a scoop tonight! These clips will introduce the topics that Tracy will touch on in a conversation with Raymond after his talk. We hope you will engage in the conversation with questions or remarks.

A few words about our guest speaker.

Raymond Neutra did not become an architect like his brother Dion. He thought, two architects in the family is enough. Raymond was born in Los Angeles in 1939, so he must now be in his 80th year. Influenced by his father’s concern with physiology and design, he pursued a research career in environmental medicine and epidemiology. Before retiring, he was Chief of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control of the California Department of Public Health, and he sees environmental design and public health as closely linked.

Please give our speaker of tonight a warm welcome!


The film ‘Neutra: Survival through Design’ will be shown at the AFFR in Rotterdam on October 12th at 8:30pm, and Sunday October 13 at 1pm. On  you will find the link.