Rietveld Schröder House

The Rietveld Schröder House (Dutch: Rietveld Schröderhuis) (also known as the Schröder House) in Utrecht was built in 1924 by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld for Mrs. Truus Schröder-Schräder and her three children. She commissioned the house to be designed preferably without walls. Rietveld worked side by side with Schröder-Schräder to create the house. He sketched the first possible design for the building; Schroder-Schrader was not pleased. She envisioned a house that was free from association and could create a connection between the inside and outside. The house is one of the best known examples of De Stijl-architecture and arguably the only true De Stijl building. Mrs. Schröder lived in the house until her death in 1985. The house was restored by Bertus Mulder and now is a museum open for visits. In the year 2000 it was placed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Architecture

The Rietveld Schröder House constitutes both inside and outside a radical break with all architecture before it. The two-story house is situated in Utrecht, at the end of a terrace, but it makes no attempt to relate to its neighbouring buildings. It faces a motorway built in the 1960s.

Inside there is no static accumulation of rooms, but a dynamic, changeable open zone. The ground floor can still be termed traditional; ranged around a central staircase are kitchen and three sit/bedrooms. The living area upstairs, stated as being an attic to satisfy the fire regulations of the planning authorities, in fact forms a large open zone except for a separate toilet and a bathroom. Rietveld wanted to leave the upper level as was. Mrs Schröder, however, felt that as living space it should be usable in either form, open or subdivided. This was achieved with a system of sliding and revolving panels. When entirely partitioned in, the living level comprises three bedrooms, bathroom and living room. In-between this and the open state is a wide variety of possible permutations, each providing its own spatial experience.

The facades are a collage of planes and lines whose components are purposely detached from, and seem to glide past, one another. This enabled the provision of several balconies. Like Rietveld's Red and Blue Chair, each component has its own form, position and colour. Colours were chosen as to strengthen the plasticity of the facades; surfaces in white and shades of grey, black window and doorframes, and a number of linear elements in primary colours.

There is little distinction between interior and exterior space. The rectilinear lines and planes flow from outside to inside, with the same color palette and surfaces. Even the windows are hinged so that they can only open 90 degrees to the wall, preserving strict design standards about intersecting planes, and further blurring the delineation of inside and out

Construction

Initially, Rietveld wanted to construct the house out of concrete. It turned out that it would be too expensive to do that on such a small building. The foundations and the balconies were the only parts of the building that were made out of concrete. The walls were made of brick and plaster. The window frames and doors were made from wood as well as the floors, which were supported by wooden beams. To support the building, steel girders with wire mesh were used.

World Heritage Site

The World Heritage Committee inscribed the Rietveld Schröder House on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites on 2 December 2000, during the 24th session in Cairns, Australia. The committee decided to apply criterion i and ii, and said about the house:

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