Saturday, December 8, 2012


The Rietveld-Schroder House is located in Utrecht, Netherlands. Found in the Oog in Al neighbourhood (one of the neighbourhoods designed by H.P. Berlage during the expansion of the city in the early 1900s), at Prins Hendriklaan 50 3583 EP Utrecht, Netherlands, the house is a symbol of modern architecture. The site and location itself, however, is a great contributor to the success of the building. Prior to the Rietveld-Schroder House being built, the site was fairly deserted because although it was a beautiful plot with great views, it was also an awkward plot with its small size and neighbouring buildings. "There was a dirty crumbling wall with weeds growing in front of it. Over there was a small farm. It was a very rural spot, and this sort of fitted in. It was a deserted place, where anyone who wanted to pee just did it against this wall." - Gerrit Rietveld. With respect to the city - the site lied just at the periphery of Utrecht, it was almost in the country, but not quite. This was an aspect of the plot that Truus Schroder particularly liked as she wanted to have access to both "the activity of the city and the tranquility of the country" (The Work of G. Rietveld, Theodore Brown, p. 37). Initially, Rietveld and Schroder had designed the building so that the corner window on the southeast facade would face the countryside that existed in 1924. This countryside view, however, would soon be destroyed by the construction and development of other buildings around the area, and more importantly by the construction of the Waterlinieweg motorway. Rietveld and Schroder did try and control some of the view that would be around the house as shown by the construction of the Erasmuslaan townhouses (1934) the next street over from Prins Hendriklaan. The below maps show three distinct pieces of information: 1) land use around the building in recent years, 2) the infrastructure (primarily roads) around the area, and 3) the surrounding building context in the area. There is also a small chart showing information about the climate in the region. 

This map shows the current land use around the site - we have a small river, some grassland, and a tree nursery towards the north. This map shows the major changes that have been made to the city of Utrecht. The building originally faced out towards beautiful views of the countryside in 1924 - in later years this countryside has now been developed with a motorway covering most of the views that Rietveld had originally planned for Schroder and the children to enjoy.

This map shows the current infrastructure around the site - mainly roads. The most significant piece of information it does show, however, is the Waterlinieweg motorway which was built in 1963. The design of this motorway had huge ramifications on the design of the house itself as its construction destroyed the effect of being connected to nature that Rietveld had tried to hard to produce.

This maps shows the small townhouses that surround the house around Prins Hendriklaan. Above all, it shows the awkwardness of the house in relation to its surroundings. Not only does is placed at the very end of this long row of  small townhomes and other buildings but its also considerably smaller than any of the surrounding buildings.



The black shaded in square shows the location of the house and the surrounding buildings as it would have been in 1924. Seen is the undeveloped land surrounding the house that Rietveld spent a long time framing the view of with the southeast section of the house.


1 comment: