News February 2024

Casa sobre el Arroyo (the House on the Stream), Mar del Plata, Argentina. Photo: courtesy

2024 WMF/Knoll Modernism Prize awarded to Casa Sobre el Arroyo in Argentina

February 25, 2024

The World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize is awarded biennially to individuals or organizations working to preserve our Modern built heritage. This year’s prize goes to Ministerios de Cultura y de Obras Públicas de Argentina y Municipalidad de Mar del Plata (Ministries of Culture and Public Works of Argentina and the Municipality of Mar del Plata) in recognition of the commission’s detailed conservation of la Casa sobre el Arroyo (the House on the Stream). The prize celebrates architects, designers, and preservationists who have demonstrated innovative solutions to preserve or restore threatened modern architecture.

La Casa sobre el Arroyo was the former home of musician and composer Alberto Williams. The building’s architect was his son, Amancio Williams. The home was finished in 1948 and designed as a bridge over the Las Chacras stream. It quickly became a modern icon in Argentina and Latin America, receiving recognition and praise for its design from scholars and designers around the world. Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and Chairman of the Jury, Barry Bergdoll said, “it was as daring in its unadorned use of reinforced concrete for an elegant residence as it was practical in creating a sophisticated interior all on one floor suspended in the treetops and poetically bridging a stream. The interiors by Delfina Galvez Bunge de Williams, the architect’s wife, are essential to this total art of modernist living. Long celebrated as an early landmark of modernist design in Latin America, the house has been brought back from a lamentable state of abandon and vandalization to honor the collaboration between musician, architect, and interior designer.”

In later years, the building had a few other uses, but eventually fell abandoned. It faced vandalism, a fire, and other general natural deterioration.  The Municipality of Mar del Plata gained custody of the site in 2005, it fell on the World Monuments Watch list in 2012, and the town’s residents urged for the building to be refurbished. In 2016, planning for its restoration began and the Ministerios de Cultura y de Obras Públicas y Municipalidad de Mar del Plata did a complete restoration of the building complex. Over the years the stream the house was built over stopped flowing and so that was included in the restoration and replenished.

“The project is a testament to how careful research-based conservation, attention to detail, and dedication to high-quality craftsmanship by its stewards can bring modern architecture back to life from a precarious state of decay,” said Head of Buildings and Sites at the Getty Conservation Institute and Member of the Jury Susan Macdonald.


Argentinian Avant-Garde Icon the Casa Sobre el Arroyo Awarded 2024 World Monumnets Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize,” World Monuments Fund, February 7, 2024.