Rietveld-Schröder Huis

Rietveld-Schröder Huis
One of the first things I discovered about Utrecht once I knew we would be moving here, was the fact that it was the location of the famous Rietveld-Schröder House. With all the architectural history I studied at university, I was very familiar with this De Stijl house and I was thrilled to know that I’d have the chance to see it in person. Fast forward a couple of years to this past week, when I decided it was time to finally go see this architectural gem. It is, after all, Rietveldjaar (Rietveld Year), so this morning I finally decided to go see it for myself.

Side View From Back
Built in 1924 by Gerrit Rietveld, an Utrecht architect and designer, the house was built for — and designed with the input of — the owner, Truus Schröder, a widow with modern tastes. The house, which was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, is the only building designed and constructed according to the principles of De Stijl.
Front Detail
For the record, some of the main principles of De Stijl included a focus on pure abstraction and a simplicity of form and color, reducing all things to basic horizontal and vertical lines, squares and rectangles, asymmetrical forms, and primary colors. Certainly, one of the most famous artists of the style is Piet Mondrian, famous for his black-and-white grid paintings with squares and rectangles of red, blue and yellow. Looking at the Rietveld house, it’s as if one of Mondrian’s painting has come to life and moved into a realm of three dimension.
Glint

The house itself is a square shape primarily colored in white and grey, with small touches of red, blue and yellow. The lines of the house are straight horizontal and vertical lines, intersecting to create smaller squares and rectangles, while avoiding straight symmetry. The interior of the house, as well, was simple and open, but with movable walls that could change up the layout of the interior space, creating new rooms and flow patterns.
Back View
You can take tours of the house organized by the Centraal Museum, or if you just want to look at the outside — as we did — you can simply wander around admiring the different views and angles. As I moved around to the side and back of the house, I started sneezing repeatedly. I’m obviously allergic to something growing in that area, because it was an immediate reaction! But a little sneezing never stopped me from admiring a beautiful building! If you can’t make it to Utrecht, you can also take an online guided tour of the house.
Side View
It’s a lovely area to walk around, just to the east of Wilhelmina Park, which is a gem unto itself. The street on which the house stands, Prins Hendriklaan, is full of lovely architectural surprises, from the St. Antonius Gasthuis to some of the more modern structures on nearby Gerrit Rietveldhof. The juxtaposition of the Rietveld-Schröder House against the larger, but more traditional style of architecture makes a visit more than worth it.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you a bit more about Rietveld’s chairs.

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6 thoughts on “Rietveld-Schröder Huis

  1. About 10 years ago the Den Haag Gemeentemuseum had an entire exhibition devoted to Mondriaan, including the newly acquired (at the time) Victory Boogie Woogie. I only remembered it, because my art class went to that particular exhibit, always a great reason to skip other classes. 😉 And there was quite a ruckus about the amount paid for that particular piece.

    Funnily enough I never had the chance to see the Schröder house.

    There’s also a famous story about one of his chairs, some lady found the chair with the trash in Amsterdam and decided to take it home. The previous owners had sawn the legs shorter and painted it black. As it turned out, it was the real deal and indeed was worth a small fortune.

    • Lucky you! I would have loved to have seen that exhibit! There’s always a fuss when a work of art is bought for a big price, but I would always prefer a work to be open to the public than locked away in a private collection, never to be seen again. But obviously, I’m biases. 😉

      As for the chair, what a lucky bit of dumpster diving! (I prefer to block from my mind the fact that someone had sawn the legs shorter. *shudder*)

  2. Pingback: This is Rietveld | A Flamingo in Utrecht

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