Alain (ndgmtlcd) wrote,


I think that people should pay less attention to Ayn Rand and more attention to the Neutra house she bought and lived in, the Von Sternberg house.

Rand and her parents were the wretched victims of the Russian revolution. She understood nothing about the nature of human society and wanted to understand nothing about it. She spent her entire adult life reacting to the Russian revolution and what she thought to be its faults. In fact her "philosophy" was a twin of that of Soviet Russia's since it too lacked any compassion, any appreciation for the Arts and other human traits.

It's really funny that, along with her husband, she ended up buying Richard Neutra's Von Sternberg house in San Fernando Valley, in the 1940s.

Von Sternberg house was one of Neutra's little gems, perhaps the most perfect, the most restrained one. Like all of Neutra's houses it was based on a philosophy totally opposed to that of Rand's. It was the essence of compassion, of caring for others. Unlike so many of the modernist architects of the 30s Neutra cared for what his customers wanted, what they really would be doing with their homes. He designed both individual homes and collective homes, mansions and social housing.

Neutra's houses looked modern, futuristic (for the 1930s) from outside while they were cosy, and comfortable inside. Most importantly, they did not leak! Everything about them was well designed. Neutra took great care in choosing solid, industrial grade materials, and he had them finished in a domestic manner. He also did an enormous amount of work in designing pleasing gardens, complete landscapes around the houses he built. In contrast other modernist architects destroyed trees, shrubs, and other plants. They exterminated anything that could possibly hide their egoistical "masterpieces".

When you dig a bit into the stories of houses made by Neutra's modernist contemporaries like Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright you discover that their designs leaked and that in a hundred ways they frustrated their residents in all their attempts to have a normal comfortable daily life. Those houses looked impressive from outside and they were a pain inside. They were all about the ego of the architect. Self, self, self, self, self magnified and made solid in the shape of an unliveable house.

Now here's the even funnier part. Rand chose to buy and live (for a rather long time) in a house designed by one of the most humane of the modernist architects, Richard Neutra. At the same time she was fascinated by Frank Lloyd Wright. She corresponded with him, and even got a sketch of a possible house in return. Just about everybody points out that Rand's fictional hero, the architect Howard Roark was modeled on Frank Lloyd Wright.

Ah yes, Ms Rand, let us praise wilful, egoistical architects and then live in homes designed by architects like Neutra who placed the customer on a pedestal and in general make life sweeter for their fellow human beings.
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