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De Stijl

Picture Dictionary of Modern Architecture: De Stijl


The Rietveld Schröder House in The Netherlands is a prime example of architecture from the De Stijl movement.
Photo of modern house of white painted concrete and glass.

Rietveld Schröder House (Rietveld Schröderhuis) by architect Gerrit Thomas Rietveld, 1924, Utrecht, Netherlands (circa 2005)

Photo ©2005 Frans Lemmens / Getty Images

De Stijl Movement:

When? 1917-1932
Where? The Netherlands
Why? Rationalist response to World War I destruction and the loss of individualism
What is The Style? "Abstraction, precision, geometry, striving towards artistic purity and austerity, studying the laws of nature to arrive at what really is." Use of limited color palette (red, blue, yellow, white, grey)
Also known as: Neo-Plasticism, the new plastic art of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, for example

The UNESCO World Heritage Centre claims that the architectural "roots of De Stijl can be found in Frank Lloyd Wright's influence on architecture in the Netherlands in the early 1900s."

Rietveld Schröder House:

Architect: Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888 - 1964)
Location: Utrecht, Netherlands
Built: 1924
Commissioned by: Mrs. Truus Schröder-Schräder

UNESCO recognizes this house as "an icon of the Modern Movement in architecture" and "the manifesto of the De Stijl." Built at the end of traditional rowhouses, the white concrete and glass structure adheres to minimalism and De Stijl principles outside and inside.

"The house has two floors, developing around a spiral staircase in the centre. The main structure consists of reinforced concrete slabs and steel profiles. It is painted in basic colours, red, blue, yellow, black and white.... Unlike a traditional Dutch house, where rooms are accessible through corridors, this house was conceived by Rietveld in a flexible manner. There is no hierarchical arrangement of rooms in the floor plan. The upper floor is one open space around the staircase. It can be divided into three bedrooms and a sitting room by sliding panels. On the ground floor Rietveld was forced to meet Dutch regulations in order to acquire a building permit. There five rooms are grouped around a small hall."—UNESCO/CLT/WHC

SOURCE: World Heritage List, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/965 [accessed June 23, 2013]

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