Sunday, December 9, 2012


The house was originally designed for concrete, as evident by the large planes and slabs of material that seem to be structurally interlocked by steel elements “in a manner prophetic to…Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Waters” (pg 52 Brown). However, concrete and the production of concrete was too costly at the time. In the end, only the foundation and the balcony were made from reinforced concrete. The house was instead built with Dutch brick and wood construction that was common at the time. The brick constituted the vertical planes, and was covered with white plaster.  Horizontal planes, the floors and roof, were made of wooden joists. Lintels and columns were made of steel I-beams that were painted over later. Sliding partition walls on the upper floor were made of layered cork and asphalt covered by beaverboard. The guide railings on the ceiling and floor painted in primary colors which accents the planes they are on. The numerous configurations of close, semi-closed, and open partitions provides customization to the space, allowing it to adapt to a large range of situations and circumstances. Along with the furniture that Rietveld designed for the house, a highly dynamic and interactive environment to live in is created.

Rietveld was unconcerned with the materials used—he was more concerned with the cost. As a result, the amount paid to the contractor after construction finished was a mere 9000 guilders. He believed that a residential house should not last for more than 50 years before giving way to another occupant building. (Overy et. al p26)

Overy et. al. p19
The construction of odd shapes and forms with traditional materials was atypical to the time, and the workers often had problems while building it. For example, the welder made a mistake in welding the steel columns to the iron rails of the balcony. He welded the thin side instead of the obvious flat side of the beam onto the column.  He then tried to fix the mistake by welding another iron angle support in between both elements. Workers would intentionally fit the unusual windows upside down to see if Rietveld would notice. If Rietveld was not at the site to supervise the construction, then something would usually go wrong. (Overy et. al p18)


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