The Rietveld Schroderhuis was going to be an ordinary two floor structure in 1924. But Schroder, with three children, had an adventurous heart. And she'd met Rietveld, a carpenter with astonishing ideas. The result is this open-plan house that amazes you with the space contained in even a small shell. You want to apply the ideas to your own home or apartment, to give yourself the same breathing space.
There's an admission charge that includes an English audio description of the rooms and how they fold into one another. The language is simple yet elegant. You're assembled into a small group and led through the house by a guide. You have to climb several steps to the second floor, but that's the only physical demand.
In a nutshell, everything is designed to serve multiple functions. The walls were open during the day to create play areas for the children or serve other purposes, then slid closed or revolved for privacy and quiet at night. Is there space near a window? It holds books. Is there a chair? It's really empty space surrounded by a bent board or two that you sit on in perfect comfort. The kitchen wasn't designed for microwaves and dishwashers, but people handled all their needs here, in an area that we consider tiny. There was a study and a maid's room. There was a social area and a kitchen and a dining room. And lots and lots of light.
The house consists of lines and black and white, with primary colours thrown in to define certain areas. It's small overall, but you'll see - examining it closely - that you can eliminate most of your furniture and still have everything you need and want. That's the pleasure of the Rietveld Schroderhuis: you learn from it.
It's on all the maps, not far from the Dom and other tourist destinations in Utrecht.
Rietveld was part of the movement called Stijl in Dutch, or neoplasticism. But for the layperson, the differences between this and - say - Le Corbusier or other trailblazers of the era are academic. The central notion was a return to basics in form and colour, rethinking each from start to finish.
Utrecht, of course, is just a 7 Euro train ride from Amsterdam's Schipol train station, underneath Schipol airport. The train takes maybe 20 minutes. You won't be sorry you came.
There are plenty of books on related topics to take away, including design details of Rietveld's furnishings so you can build your own.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.