Josep Lluis Sert House

Sert House

Josep Lluis Sert, 1958

Harleston Parker Medal, 1959

This is a Mediterranean-style courtyard house set in Cambridge by the Spanish Dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, as his residence. Interior spaces alternate with intimate exterior spaces which are all wrapped by a dark brick wall. Sloping roofs end in wood framed rectangles of glass that rise up on top of the masonry. Along with the entry and a few slot windows they give a public presence to what is clearly a very private house.

Once inside the small compound feels expansive. Interior spaces open up to each other and to the courtyards through walls of windows. Solid planes extend from the inside out, turning the courtyards into outdoor rooms. Although the house is very much a product of Sert’s fertile imagination, it follows up on housing themes developed at Six Moon Hill in Lexington by colleagues of previous Dean Walter Gropius..The Catalan native was a friend of important artists including Miro, Calder, and Picasso, whose work was in most of the rooms of the house. In 1937, as the Spanish Civil War was flaming, Picasso’s Guernica debuted in Sert’s Spanish pavilion at the Paris Exposition.