Rietveld Schröder House
It should come as no surprise that the Rietveld Schröder House has a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List, along with the Waddenzee and the canals of Amsterdam. This architectural masterpiece, based on the ideals of De Stijl, is unrivalled both within and outside the oeuvre of the Utrecht architect and designer Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964).
Rietveld designed the house in 1924, commissioned by the eccentric Truus Schröder. It was his first design for an entire home, but also an extravagant experiment. Building on his own designs and De Stijl principles, he created a house on the edge of the city as a three-dimensional, asymmetrical composition. It is characterized by seamless transitions from inside to out, its primary colours (besides white, grey and black) and the playful, clever division of surfaces. Exterior, interior and furniture all bear that same Rietveld signature.
Recently widowed and mother of three, Truus Schröder was deeply involved in the design and creation of the house. She had a clear view on the way she wanted to live. Soberness, for example, was fundamental, as she wanted to live in the active sense and not be lived. Another wish was to concentrate the main living areas on the first floor. Besides having - at that time - the best views of the surrounding polders, Truus Schröder also noticed that she felt better when ‘free’ off the ground.
Intrigued about how this active living is put into practice? A visit to the Rietveld Schröder House is quite insightful: particularly the adaptability and multi-functionality of the central ‘living room’ on the first floor. This large and bright living area can be partitioned into different spaces using flexible walls. In the mornings the bedroom is transformed for the day, a bed serving as a couch.
Between 1925 and 1933, Gerrit Rietveld had a studio on the ground floor. After his wife died, he moved in with Truus Schröder. He drew his final breath in the Rietveld Schröder House one day after his 76th birthday. Truus donated the house to the Rietveld Schröder House Foundation, and the house was fully restored after her passing in 1985.
Around the corner, on the Erasmuslaan, there are two Rietveld apartment buildings, built at a later date as a social housing experiment. Both are also exemplary of the Nieuwe Bouwen movement, but then minimalist and functional, with no characteristics of De Stijl.
Rietveld Schröder archive
The Rietveld Schröder archive, containing sketches, letters and photos collected over the years by Gerrit Rietveld and Truus Schröder, was digitalized in 2010 and can be consulted on this website on the Explore page (Dutch only).