Time Travel: Rietveld’s Bioscoop

Vreeburg Bioscoop
(photo via Het Utrechts Archief)

One of my favorite Dutch words is bioscoop (cinema). It seems appropriate therefore that one of my favorite words should tie in with one of my favorite architects. You see, from 1936 until 1958, the top floor of this building is where Gerrit Rietveld lived. He was also responsible for the redesign of the building, including the fantastic facade.

The interior of the theater itself was glamorous neo-baroque, while the floor that the Rietvelds lived on was more in keeping with the Spartan simplicity of his preferred style. The facade is a fantastic modern design featuring light boxes covered in milk glass, which could be lit up each night to advertise the theater’s name: Vreeburg Bioscoop. The facade was both eye-catching and functional.

The building itself still stands, although the interior has been changed considerably. It no longer houses an ornate cinema and the Rietveld floor seems to have been taken over by a company called Internet Advantage. The ground floor is home to Esprit, selling clothing that always seems that little bit too expensive for what it is.

Fortunately, the light boxes remain. They may no longer spell anything out, but they do light up, changing colors from moment to moment. Amazingly, the light show doesn’t seem to be part of the Trajectum Lumen route. It’s just a nice bit of color and style, simply for the sake of it. As Oscar Wilde would say, art for art’s sake.

Colourful Rietveld

Rietveld Bioscoop

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