The Rietveld Schröderhuis or Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht is one of the 10 properties in the Netherlands and Curaçao inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000. It is arguably the most famous Dutch architectural work by architect and furniture designer Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888-1964).
About – The Rietveld Schröder House was commissioned by Truus Schröder-Schräder as a family house for her and her three children. She envisioned a house, preferably without walls and could create a connection between the inside and outside. A plot of land at the end of a row of brick houses located on the edge of Utrecht city was purchased to build this two-story home. Gerrit worked closely with Truus to design the exterior, interior and furniture for this property. His concept was closely related to the architectural principles of the “Stijl”-movement”*, with straight lines, primary colors and no unnecessary decorations. The Rietveld Schröder House was an exuberant experiment built in 1924. Many years later, after the death of Gerrit’s wife, Gerrit moved in to live with Truus at the Rietveld Schröder House. He lived there till the end of his life at the age of 76. Truus lived in the house until her death in 1985 at the age of 95. She donated the property to the Rietveld Schröder House Foundation. It was restored as much as possible to its original form of 1924. It is now a museum open for visits under the guardianship of the Centraal Museum.
Before You Go … The Rietveld Schröder House opens Tuesday to Sundays from 1100hrs – 1700hrs. To visit, you MUST make an ADVANCE BOOKING on the website. Even months in advance! Tours start at 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00 hrs. Select your day, time, type of tickets and make your payment. Tickets are limited! Only 12 visitors are allowed inside the house per tour session.
Getting There – If you are driving, there are ample parking spaces right beside Rietveld Schröder House. No idea about the cost though.
If you are travelling using public transport like me, take bus number 8 direction Wilhelminapark from Utrecht Central Station Jaarbeurszijde bus stop at platform D5. Alight at bus stop De Hoogstraat and walk further 5 minutes to get to the Rietveld Schröder House.
If you are interested to cycle, you can ask for a Rietveld loan bike at the Centraal Museum ticketing counter. Otherwise, the Rietveld Schröder House is about 25 minute walking distance from Centraal Museum.
My Visit – I decided for a Sunday morning 1100hrs tour when nothing else was opened. I arrived 10 minutes earlier and made my way to the Ticket Office located at Prins Hendriklaan 50a, right next door to the Rietveld Schröder House. I announced myself with proof of reservation and received the entrance ticket, audio guide and the layout of the property. The audio guide available were Dutch, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin. TIP: bring your own earpiece for easy listening pleasure. There were free lockers big enough to fit a backpack and restrooms available on site.
From the Ticket Office, our tour guide told us (in Dutch and English) to start-off the audio tour number 1 on our own, which was outside the Rietveld Schröder House.
Before we enter the property, she set down some ground rules; photography is allowed, but no touching or sitting on any of the interior. Once inside the house, we were given shoe-covers to wear. Clearly to protect the age old wooden floorboards. We were told to explore free freely on our own by listening to the audio tour. Our guide stood by to supervise and was happy to answer any questions we had.
The ground floor of the property was a normal conventional three rooms with a kitchen layout. There were clever build-in storage spaces and Gerrit’s original furniture pieces such as the Zig-zag Chair and Military Chair were on display in the kitchen. Two noteworthy design features in each room were a door to access the outdoors directly and a sink was equipped for convenience. That was it! I was expecting some kind of an ‘architectural masterpiece’.
Our guide instructed us further to proceed to the upper floor to continue our audio tour. We went up to a large open zone where there were beds on three corners, furniture in awkward places, a kitchenette with a charcoal-burning stove next to the stairs, more sinks, doors to the balconies, lots of windows, a bathroom in plain sight and colorful wooden floorboards. It was an open plan living/sleeping area with no privacy!
Then, our tour guide started the demonstration. She explained how this attic function during the day as one open space and divided into three bedrooms, a bathroom and a living area just by unfolding wooden panels on rails for the night. Within minutes, the entire floor space changed! Privacy partitions were in place enclosing bedrooms and the bathroom. I understood now! Simply creative, radical and genius.
She showed us Gerrit’s concept of a fully open hinged window which maximize the outdoor view. It was like standing on a balcony. Unfortunately, what was once a beautiful polder landscape is now a noisy four-lane highway.
Last but not least, the famous Red and Blue Chair (1917), Divan Table (1923) and Berlin Chair (1923) were all present on this floor.
The total duration of this tour was approximately 45 minutes. The last number on the audio guide was about a model house a walking minute away at Erasmuslaan 9. In addition, there was a short video documentary we could watch at the Ticket Office.
It is hard to believe that this property is nearly a century old! The revolutionary architecture structure, design and concept of interior space efficiency are mind stretch and clever for a house with such modernity in 1924.
Rietveld Schröderhuis belongs to the Rietveld-Schröder House Foundation and is managed by the Centraal Museum of Utrecht.
Currently, there are 10 properties in the Netherlands and Curaçao are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This my 4th out of 10.
Click the link for more details on the address, opening hours, audio tour starting time, prices and directions.
*”The Style” also known as Neoplasticism, was a Dutch artistic movement founded in 1917 in Leiden. The Style consisted of artists and architects designing simplified visual compositions according to De Stijl principle; vertical and horizontal using only black, white and primary colors of red, blue and yellow.