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Centro Casa Klumb

Casa Klumb is an architect’s residence, which isn’t a novel thing in itself, since an architect tends to desire to build his or her own house as a testament to his or her views on architecture, or as a laboratory in which to rehearse ideas. Casa Klumb has been categorized as the latter, but we must add an additional component: it was not a new house, but a rehabilitation, a recycling and transformation of an existing nineteenth-century hacienda house that responded to Klumb’s dictum: “Architecture has spiritual and poetic exuberance, where the past is respected, the present is lived in reflection and the future is a projection of our hopes.”

Klumb manipulated the site in order to fulfill his ideal of living in the tropics. The orchards surrounding the original house, which he bought in 1947, were transformed into a series of clearings and wooded areas, which today have become an important component of the Casa Klumb. Klumb had said in one of his unpublished “Concerns” that “Before you see the house… you see the trees.”

The inclusion of Casa Klumb on the 2014 World Monuments Watch has helped significantly to increase the awareness of the importance of the property and its need for rehabilitation. The chancellor of the Río Piedras campus established on January 24, 2014, the Casa Klumb Committee with the participation of preservation architects, social workers, arborists, business administrators, marketing professionals, and students.

The committee organized a first activity called “Art in Casa Klumb” on the grounds on February 23 to celebrate Mr. Klumb’s 109th birthday. For this activity, the committee invited over 30 artists to visit the house to “get inspired” and produce an object or piece (there were musicians, graphic artists, painters, dancers, and playwrights, among others) to be shown in September at a major exhibition at the house. The artists were so thrilled with the visit that they requested a second visit that included meeting Klumb’s surviving household and office staff in order to build a narrative of Klumb’s personality.

This effort is part of a threefold happening organized around Klumb’s philosophy that the creative spirit is nurtured with the integration of the arts, the environment, and architecture. A second event, “Nature in Casa Klumb,” is scheduled for March 19 with natural science students and botanists who will document the gardens at the Casa Klumb. A third visit, “Sketching Casa Klumb,” is scheduled for March 23 with architects and landscape architects.
As part of the exhibition, the drawings and sketches of the Casa Klumb done by the graduate students at the School of Architecture for its rehabilitation as the Centro Casa Klumb will be shown along with the original Klumb sketches for the transformation of the turn-of-the century hacienda house.