By Nicholas Pratley
For the uninitiated, the Rietveld Schröderhuis is the block of grey and white that sits on the right of the underpass next to campus. It is hard to miss this abrupt end to the respectable brick terraces of Prins Hendriklaan. This little house is on the UNESCO world heritage list, alongside Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the canals of Amsterdam. Designed in 1924 by Gerrit Rietveld, it is an icon of the Modern Movement in architecture.
It is impossible to enter the house without sensing its space. This radical approach to design focuses on the modernist mantra of putting functionality over aesthetics. Large blocks of primary colour dominate the walls and the floor, with the interior made up solely of straight lines.
Even the windows open at 90 degrees, further blurring the distinction between outside and inside. Schröder, who commissioned the house, wanted as few walls dividing the space as possible. Through Rietveld’s design this aspiration has been spectacularly realised.
The living space, when you ascend to the top floor, is a blank canvas. With sliding and revolving panels it sits ready to be adapted to any purpose. In true modernist fashion, Rietveld wanted the whole house built of concrete. As a new technology, this proved too expensive and he had to make do with concrete foundations and balconies. This hints towards the impact De Stijl and the other Modernist architects have had on the way we build today.
UNESCO describes the Schröderhuis as an outstanding expression of human creative genius in its purity of ideas and concepts as developed by the De Stijl movement. Whether it’s for the beauty of the house, or the history it represents, there’s a reason for everyone to visit.
Opening times Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 – 17:00
€ 8: Students
€ 3: Museumkaart
See the website for more information.