In 1987, the Dutch architect Mart van Schijndel began designing his dream house. He worked for the next six years on a postmodern triangular home that was nearly hidden from view behind a row of townhouses in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Although many of the striking home's exterior walls are made of glass, the façade is bland and windowless, and the front door is downright unwelcoming: it has a dozen spy-holes punched into it.
Inside, the design is focused on geometric patterns, and while it may seem austere, there is much technical ingenuity on display, such as glass kitchen cabinet doors that swing on invisible silicone "hinges." Each the home's doors open onto a light-filled living room with patios on either side of it. Sadly, Van Schijndel only got to spend a few years in his masterwork; he died in 1999 at the age of 56, the same year the city of Utrecht declared the house its youngest listed monument.
"Within the Dutch tradition, his work has an unusual appearance," writes the architectural historian Natascha Drabbe, who is also Van Schijndel's widow. "Literary and poetic aspects mingle with an almost Japanese atmosphere of simplicity and sophistication, plus a Mediterranean use of color and light."
Although Drabbe still lives in the 1,885-square-foot home, she founded the Iconic Houses Network with the aim of keeping the Van Schijndel House, and other architecturally significant occupied houses, open to visitors. Photos, below: