Saturday, December 8, 2012


RED 5 has spent the day drawing, analyzing, and interpreting the Rietveld-Schroder house in plan and elevation. After countless sheets of trace paper and constant layering, we have come to realize many of the house's distinct design qualities. 


These diagrams show that the building has a centralized core consisting of the spiral staircase. This staircase runs connecting both levels of the building; all of the other living areas have been planned around this central area of the house.

This diagram shows the core area and general spatial organisation of the upper level. The core area, being the set of circular stairs is shown as a black box from which other areas on the floor can be accessed. Also, the upper level can be divided into four main areas through which the three cantilevered balconies can be accessed. 


In contrast to the upper level, the lower level proves to be rather conservative in design. This conservatism is due to the fact that Rietveld and Schroder needed their design to be approved by the building codes in Utrecht at the time. Coming in through the entrance, there is a small hall which opens up to the central set of stairs. Divided by the stairs there are six different spaces: a small WC, a generous kitchen-dining-living area, a servant's bedroom, a small working space, a studio (meant for Rietveld) and a reading room. The servant's room is hidden at the back of the house and is only accessible by means of the kitchen-living-dining areas and the working space. The reading room and studio are easily accessible through the hall. 

The upper level of the Rietveld Schroder House has proven through analysis to be quite multi-purpose and multi-experiential. The northeast side of the plan (bedroom area and living/dining area) is relatively open and undifferentiated from the exterior with clear access to the balcony and lots of glazing. The southeast side of the plan  is perhaps the most intriguing: it's quite linear in character due to the roof which brackets the space quite linearly. The linearity of the southeast side allows this part of the building to merge seamlessly with the landscape (i.e. disappearing corner windows). The openness of the southeast and northeast sections are in clear contrast to the southwest side of plan which is shut off by opaque walls with only a little patch of glazing that opens the building out to a single balcony. The privacy of the bathroom is still maintained as the it has been fixed into the wall.

With the closing of the panels on the upper level, we see the creation of many new spaces. Coming up off of the lower level, a hallway is created. This hall opens up onto the small toilet, bath, a generously sized bedroom for the girls, an equally generous boy's bedroom, and the living/dining area. Truus Schroder's small bedroom is found hidden at the very back displaying Schroder's need for privacy.


Circulation on the lower level is radial. Coming up from the entrance of the house, there is the main hall - through this hall there is access to the reading room, the studio, and the central stairs. Beyond the stairs, movement becomes circular from the kitchen-dining-living area to the servant's quarters which open onto the small working space. This working space further opens onto the studio. Each space on the lower level (with the exception of the WC) has access to the outdoors.

When all of the partitions on the upper level are opened, the circulation is still quite radial in nature but is circulation spaces are much wider. Some areas such as the hall disappear and the stairwell loses some of the shaft-like quality it gains when the partitions are closed.

When all of the partitions on the upper level are closed, the circulation (like the lower level) is radial except that circulation spaces are now tighter. In addition, spaces are created such as a small hall and the stairwell being transformed into a shaft-like structure. 


The elevations are perhaps the best display of the visual independence of the components and of the blurring between the interior and exterior  of the Rietveld-Schroder House. This independence has been highlighted by colour, placement and separation. Components of the house are visually separated by colour, specifically: red, blue, yellow, three different shades of grey, black and white. As these different colours (and hues of these colours) have a characteristic of optically advancing or receding (i.e. blue recedes and red advances), it helps the building seem ever-changing. This is especially true in the different lighting conditions that can occur on site. In addition, the colours help blur the differences between interior and exterior. A perfect example of this is on the southwest elevation where lintels of the building are painted black. As windows during daytime appear black, making the lintels black optically removes the appearance of the lintels being there. Therefore we have the sense that the planes of glass meet the balcony and roof without interruption, and even support it.


Rietveld chooses to use the traditional Dutch brick and wood construction in the Rietveld-Schroder House for several reasons. For starters, he's well aware of how brick with plaster overtop works with loads and duress - concrete at the time was a relatively new material and Rietveld was not particularly experienced with it. The biggest determining factor, however, was the cost. As the Dutch had been slipping into a recession for a while (1923 was a major lowpoint) the cost of making the entire building out of concrete would have been exorbitant and Rietveld was rather set against that. The only parts of the building that had been constructed out of concrete was the foundation and the horizontal and vertical balcony slabs. As the concrete balcony couldn't be supported solely by the brick wall, Rietveld added a horizontal "I" beam under the balcony slap that interlocks with a vertical stanchion for extra support.


  1. This is an excellent, beautiful and interesting blog on the Rietveld Schroder house. Just what I was looking for online, this sunny Sunday morning at my desk. I visited the house with my son in 2006. I look forward to studying the blog in detail. I'm a lecturer in Media & Television in Dublin, Ireland, but my passion lies in Modern Design and minds like Rietveld. Thank you for the time and effort you spent in compiling these designs and analyses. Bob.

  2. These blue prints are well drawn. I would like to know if there is a software other than photoshop to do these things?


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  4. That's really useful.Thank you!!!!

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