Sunday, December 9, 2012


Although Truus Schroder had a significant input into the conception, and way the Rietveld-Schroder house was built, it would be a gross misstep to assume that Rietveld had very little to do with it. As this was Rietveld's first real foray into architecture, he was able to incorporate a lot of the ideas that he manufactured through the influence of De Stijl. However, to think of the ideas behind Rietveld-Schroder House is to think of Rietveld's oft-repeated quote: "The reality that architecture can create is space." Rietveld's perception, and creation of space and its reality are elemental to his approach when designing. This is a fact that Truus Schroder points out in an interview:
"You know, materials aren't what mattered most for Rietveld. After all, an architect's real material is space - that is completely incorporeal - and that was very important for him. What you did with space, indoors and out. The way space was defined had to be right, both inside and outside." - (The Rietveld-Schroder House, Overy, Buller, den Oudsten and Mulder, p. 81)
Throughout his life, Rietveld has been shown to place great importance on the "immediate life, the ordinary, simple direct experience of reality". It's safe to say that Rietveld chooses to use his designs as a way to intensify experiences. Since all "experience", as Rietveld defines it, is based on the "activity (or stimulus) of the senses" (Rietveld and the Man-made Object, Theodore Brown, p.130), Rietveld suggests that reality, and our collective ability to experience it comes through the being able to engage our senses in the world we live in. In the case of the Rietveld-Schroder House, this experience is formulated by the incorporation of colour, technology, and structure. With shifting panels on the upper floor, an intercom system, buttons which once pressed reveal hidden doors and structural elements coloured in a way to make the building seem ever changing, Rietveld has created a structure in which the user is engaged with, and experiences the building in their own way. In this way, the user, through their experience is able to create a reality, and meaning of their own within their built environment. This is the effect that Rietveld would have certainly wanted to convey; as he mentioned when discussing the Rietveld-Schroder House:  "We took this plot of ground and made it into a place with a reality of its's always been my main aim to give a yet unformed space a meaning of its own."   

Rietveld's relationship with the De Stijl movement is less clear. Although he joined the movement in 1918, Truus Schroder maintains that "He didn't agree with them completely, nor did he disagree in the beginning." That being said, there are clear elements of De Stijl thinking that went into Rietveld's furniture, and even the Rietveld-Schroder House itself. It's good to note however, that Rietveld never went into building the house with the intention of having it follow De Stijl principles; nor was the building meant to resemble a Mondrian painting. After the end of the First World War, De Stijl (or neoplasticism) became an important movement as it called for the simplification of compositions by the use of only essential elements and basic colours (the primary colours, greys, black, and white). The De Stjil movement's ideas were parallel to that of the Russian Constructivists who believed the use of strict geometry, and a technologically advanced aesthetic. All of these elements can be found in the Rietveld-Schroder House and in Rietveld's furniture - specifically the Red and Blue chair.

1 comment: