The article below was published in Pinnable’s newsletter in .

De Stijl

The Rietveld Schröder House

Gerrit Rietveld (1888–1964), best known for his red & blue chair, was not only a furniture designer but an architect as well, and one of the leading exponents of the modernist art movement De Stijl. In 1923, Truus Schröder-Schräder, a widow, commissioned him to design a house for her, something Rietveld had never done before. The resulting Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht is the epitome of De Stijl architecture, featuring clean horizontal & vertical lines and primary colours, alongside white, grey & black. For two reasons, the place is a Gesamtkunstwerk: the house & its interior are fully in sync, and the mistress of the house — who was, as it turned out, also the mistress of the architect — had such an influence on the design that it may very well be considered a co-production.

Rietveld Schröder House
The Rietveld Schröder House

Rietveld’s — and Schröder’s — ideal house was spacious, simple & functional. He came up with all sorts of clever solutions to achieve this, such as the ingenious sliding walls on the first floor, by day a large open space that could be split up into three separate rooms in the evening, and the iconic corner window that makes the corner disappear when opened, meant to ensure a fluid transition between interior and exterior. And the really cool thing is: you can see it all for yourself, with live demonstrations of all the moving parts, during a one-hour guided tour that takes place five times a day, Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Because tour groups are limited to twelve persons, it’s advisable to book tickets online in advance.

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When the Rietveld Schröder House was completed in 1924, it overlooked a sweeping polder landscape. In the early 1930s, the land opposite was released for development, and Truus Schröder bought it to ensure that her prospect would remain aesthetically pleasing. She did so by having eight town houses built, designed by Gerrit Rietveld in a functionalist style, with none of the hallmarks of De Stijl. When a four-lane motorway & a viaduct were built across the front lawn in the 1960s, Rietveld said the house might just as well be torn down, since what linked the interior and exterior had been destroyed.