Josep Lluis Sert Sert House

Source: Josep Lluis Sert Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United StatesYear: 1957
Date: August 18, 2023 Category: Classic

In designing his own home, losep Lluís Sert sought to replace the suburban single-family dwelling with an urban courtyard house, adapted to a northern climate. Sert asserted that this model,which he believed could be repeated on all adjacent lots, provided “more privacy, greater security, and a more efficient use of land in densely-populated areas.” Sert enclosed a typical suburban lot (18.3 m by 30.5 m / 60 ft. by 100 ft.) to create a house with three distinct courtyards defined by an outer wall. While breaking with the convention of a house and front yard, Sert integrated this building into its New England context by using common materials like red brick and wooden siding. Inside the fenced enclosure, Sert kept the building volumes low to accommodate the low angle of the northern winter sunlight. He also added a dynamic roof form, to maximize interior light and respond to the growing uneasiness on the part of many Americans with the modernist fIat roof. Over the living room Sert designed a butterfIy roof, placing clerestory windows underneath to further increase light penetration. The roof form echoed neighboring gable roofs on the exterior, while on the interior affording views of the neighboring trees, and allowing morning light to enter. The living space inside is masterful both in its proportion and efficiency. The dimensions of the rooms and patios are based on the Golden Mean. The central patio is a 7.3 m (24ft.) square anchored by a dogwood laurel tree. The living room and front court together form an exact square. Sert further used golden proportions to determine the section as well as the design of built-in shelves and fireplace. At the same time, he minimized corridor space by directing circulation around the central court, and through the kitchen and study. The design combines serenity, rationality, and panache.

Sert also kept interior furnishings to a minimum so as not to interfere with his art collection. Originally a painter, Sert displayed the work of his close friends Fernand Léger, Alexander Calder, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso throughout the house. Thus he kept walls and draperies white and limited bright colors to a few spots, to contrast with the bright colors of these paintings. Although Sert’s townhouse scheme was never repeated on neighboring lots, this urban unit formed the basis for many of his other designs, both in the Boston area and elsewhere. While Sert donated his art collection to the Harvard Art Museums, his house fell into disrepair after his death in 1983. Today, the Sert house recreates the architect’s original living environment, thanks to the faithful care of the Serts’ friends, Harvard professor Gerald Holton and his artist wife, Nina. The Holtons bought the house in 1991 , restored it to its original condition, and have furnished it with their own collection of art.


  • Sergi P. August 31, 2015

    Totalmente de acuerdo con anónimo. Son viviendas de las que no te cansas de admirar y re-estudiar. Las conocí en la universidad y todavía siguen siendo referentes.

    • Andrés G September 1, 2015

      Soy de la misma opinión de anónimo. Estoy hastiado de tanta chuflada y echo en falta ARQUITECTURA como la de este proyecto y el anterior.
      Pero ¿de qué iban a vivir sino tantos marchantes, perdón me he confundido, medios de difusión?.

  • anonimo July 22, 2013

    nunca termina de sorprenderme la naturalidad con la que parece que se resolvían los proyectos hasta hace algunos años, ¿qué ha pasado? empiezo a preocuparme, hace años que no me encuentro con casas tan emocionantes ni en las que me apetezca vivir tanto como en esta

  • claudi aguiló July 22, 2013

    cuina-passadis impresionante…


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