•January 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The history of contemporary architecture is inevitably multiple, multifarious even; a history of the structures that form the human environment independently of architecture itself; a history of the attempts to control and direct those structures; a history of the intellectuals who have sought to devise policies and methods for those attempts; a history of new languages which, having abandoned all hope of arriving at absolute and definitive words, have striven to delimit the area of their particular contribution.
Obviously the intersection of all those manifold histories will never end up in unity. The realm of history is, by nature, dialectical.

Manfredo Tafuri and Francesco Dal Co. L’architettura contemporanea, 1976


The Contemporary Practice Lecture series covers the History of Interventions in Interior Design, Architecture and Arts Practice contexts from 1900 to the present day.
The series proceeds chronologically, covering projects pre-World War 1 in Term 1 and following on to cover the Inter War and Post-War Era in Term 2.

As the series proceeds you will develop a coherent understanding of:
• The major works in Art & Design in comprehensive detail
• Key styles and movements in the history of Art & Design
• The contextual topography and debate surrounding the work

The series is envisioned as a sequence of dialogues that are instigated by the weekly Lectures, and responded to by each student in the form of a weblog. These blogs will develop continually throughout the year, and form a comprehensive research resource that will fold back into your design practice and history and theory projects as the year develops.



•January 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

” The terrifying and edible beauty of Art Nouveau architecture” – Salvador Dali

During the late 1800s, many European artists, graphic designers, and architects rebelled against formal, classical approaches to design. They believed that the greatest beauty could be found in nature. Art Nouveau (French for “New Style”) was popularized by the famous Maison de l’Art Nouveau, a Paris art gallery operated by Siegfried Bing. Art Nouveau art and architecture flourished in major European cities between 1890 and 1914.
Art Nouveau in Europe was expressed in countries like Belgium, Switzerland and France (Victor Horta, Hector Guimard), Austria (Vienna Secesionn- Gustav Klint, Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffman, Joseph Maria Olbrich), Britain (Charles Rennie Mackintosh), Spain as Modernisme( Antoni Gaudi)
In the United States, Art Nouveau ideas were expressed in the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Designers and architects were inspired by discovery of nature photography.

Art Nouveau was a very dominat European style and has made itself know and present from 1880s to 1910s. This movement walked under the flag of an art that would break all connections to classical times, and bring down the barriers between the fine arts and applied arts. Art Nouveau was more than a mere style. It was a way of thinking about modern society and new production methods. It was an attempt to redefine the meaning and nature of the work of art. From that time on, it was the duty of art not to overlook any everyday object, no matter how utilitarian it might be. This approach was considered completely new and revolutionary, thus the New Art – Art Nouveau name.
An artist should work on everything from architecture to furniture design so that art would become a part of everyday life. By making beauty and harmony a part of everyday life, artists make people’s lives better. This approach has been represented in painting, architecture, furniture, glassware, graphic design, jewelry, pottery, metalwork, and textiles and sculpture. Advertising posters were welcomed into art, and fence has been proclaimed a suitable exhibition place for this new art. This was a sharp contrast to the traditional separation of art into the distinct categories of fine art (painting and sculpture) and applied arts (ceramics, furniture, and other practical objects).
Because of typical flat, decorative patterns used in all art forms, Art Nouveau obtained a nickname ‘the noodle style’ in French, ‘Le style nouilles’. Visual standards of the Art Nouveau style are flat, decorative patterns, intertwined organic forms of stems or flowers. Art Nouveau emphasized handcrafting as opposed to machine manufacturing, the use of new materials. Although curving lines characterize Art Nouveau, right-angled forms are also typical, especially as the style was practiced in Scotland and in Austria. Typical for this style was artistic application of modern industrial techniques and modern materials. Principal subjects are lavish birds and flowers, insects and polyformic femme fatale. Abstract lines and shapes are used widely as a filling for recognizable subject matter. Purposeful elimination of three-dimensions is often applied through reduced shading. Art Nouveau artifacts are beautiful objects of art, but not necessarily very functional.
Art Nouveau, one of the last remaining dominant European styles, can also be looked at from a different perspective. Maybe it’s not its combination of industrial novelties and natural themes that overwhelmed the continent, but the daring new points of view, the fitting together of known technologies and known patterns into a whole new idea. Look at the ceiling of the Palau de la Musica Catalan in Barcelona (picture below).

It combines existing ideas and technologies, but creates a new interpretation.
Art Nouveau, in my opinion, wanted to escape from a classical influence and wanted to have a new approach to design. I admire classical language but maybe it became a bit boring for nineteenth century designers or the ninetheenth century designer wanted to find someting new and exciting.
Classical style was dominating in eighteenth century and succeed in its style. It was a style that was taking inspirations from Greek and Roman architecture.
Classical architecture has inspired many recent architects and has led to revivals such as neoclassical architecture from the mid-18th century and the Greek Revival of the 19th century.
Neoclassical architecture characterise element such as columns, pediments, friezes, and other ornamental schemes.
My favourite architec of that time was Robert Adam which produced linear style with Roman style decorative motifs such as vases, urns, scrolls, ribbons and he as well was applying to his design motifs from nature.
As we can see nature is part of our culture, “when much culture leans towards entertaiment and much nature towards the artificial”– Bernard Tschumi.

Picture above – dinnig room design by Eugene Valin Maison Masson, Nancy, France.

Picture above- Antoni Gaudi, dining room in Casa Batllo, 1904-06.

Picture above- Cassa Batllo, secend floor plan.

In the works of Horta, Gaudi, Guimard, Mackintosh and other protagonists the static, rational types of neo-classical of historicism were substituted by a new universe of expressive means. The point of departure was again the basic properties of earth and sky, as exemplified by Otto Wagne’s Karlsplatz station in Vienna (1899-1900).

Karlsplatz Station in Vienna.

We can observe composition which is classical in its regular symmetry. Victor Horta in his Maison du Peuple on the contrary developed a sensitive interplay of symmetries and asymmetries.
That symmetrical arrangement was very common for Robert Adam designs. This is very interesting of Adam’s work because each of his interior or exterior work characterize symmetry. Adam was carefully designed and arranging spaces to keep the balance.
In Art Nouveau it is visible a strong sense of details. This new art was a new expression of new possibilities like continuous pattres of curved lines.


•January 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

” The modern man who holds the ornament sacred as the useless remains of abundance of epochs long past will immediately recognize the arduous, spoiled, sickness of the modern ornament. No one living on our level of culture these days can create ornament anymore.”- Adolf Loos

Adolf Loos was a functionalist who believed in simplicity. He had traveled to America and admired the work of Louis Sullivan. He felt that lack of ornamentation was a sign of spiritual strength, and his writings include a study about the relation between ornament and crime.

“… the evolution of culture marches with the elimination of ornament from useful objects.”
Adolf Loos, “Ornament & Crime”.

The Loos House was simple all right. “Like a woman with no eyebrows,” people said, because the windows lacked decorative details. For awhile, window boxes were installed. But this did not solve the deeper problem.

“The dishes of past centuries, which display all kinds of ornaments to make peacocks, pheasants and lobsters look more tasty, have exactly the opposite effect on me… I am horrified when I go through a cookery exhibition and think that I am meant to eat these stuffed carcasses. I eat roast beef.” – Adolf Loos, “Ornament & Crime”.

“Ornament & Crime” was Adolf Loos most famous article.
Adolf Loos was a precise observer of his time and new cultural forms. He rejected the ornament with an economic argument because he equated it with wasted manpower.
Heinrich Kulka, Loos’s biographer explained the Loosian structural thinking:

“Through Adolf Loos a new and advanced type of spatial thinking came into the world. The free thinking in space, the planning of rooms, that lie on different levels and are not bound to any continuous storey, the combination of interconnecting spaces to a harmonious, inseparable whole and to a spatially economic object. Depending from their puropose and significance the rooms not only have different size, but also different heights”.

Adolf Loos Apartment

Bathroom of the Villa Karma

Do we need ornaments??? Do they make interiors more intresting???
I think that it all depends on what we want to achieve. Robert Adam for example was a great succesfull Scottish architect that was using ornaments. They were present in his interiors and had a purpose. I don’t think that it is a waste of space but it is a nice motif. It gives to the space different visual experience. Adolf Loos created his own vision of the spaces. He did remove the ornament but it dosen’t mean that because of that he gave to the space more function or bettre quality or function. He just brought a new way of looking at the space.
At 33 Portland Place the Adam’s floral motifs are visible and the place is used for many social programs. The ornaments nice blending with the interior and dignity.We just need to understand the need of this.


•January 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In limited dergree industry and warfare have been connected from the earliest times. Weapons are what human muscles formidable; and from the down of civilization it took specialized craftsmen to make weapons out of metal.

Industrail Revolution was a beginning to all the changes, new discoveries, new social thinking and new styles, technology.
The first Industrial Revolution, which began in the 18th century, merged into the Second Industrial Revolution around 1850, when technological and economic progress gained momentum with the development of steam-powered ships, railways, and later in the 19th century with the internal combustion engine and electrical power generation.
Historians agree that the Industrial Revolution was one of the most important events in history.


•January 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment


“Contour and profile are a pure creation of the mind; they call for the plastic art.” Le Corbusier

Retvield- Schroder House.

At the turn of the century, technology and new industrial processes were spreading; and in Europe designers were becoming attuned to the possibilities of mass-produced well-designed products as artists, architects and industry increasingly worked together.
By this time, the British Arts and Crafts movement had reverted to a national style rather than an international one. Designers there retained the hand-made, natural wood look while elsewhere in Europe the materials and processes of mass production being developed in the United States were seized upon and the concept of ‘Functionalism’ was becoming an important influence.

The concept was first expressed in the 19th century by an American sculptor, Horatio Greenough who wrote a book Form and Function which praised the design of machines, and was critical of decorated products and architecture with ornamental facades. His enthusiasm for an ‘engineers aesthetic’ was echoed in the words of Louis Sullivan, an architect who at the turn of the century proclaimed:
“Form follows function”.
At that time in the United States, mechanised mass production was encouraged, because cheap labour was scarce compared to the situation in Europe. Called the American system of manufacture, it had greatly influenced the appearance of products and became known as the Functionalist Tradition, where manufacturing methods determined not only the means of production but also the visual form of the products. A term applied to products designed only for practical use, it became a central theme in Modernism, namely the aesthetic of the machine.

In architecture, Functionalism meant the elimination of ornament so the building plainly expressed its purpose, and the principle led to the idea of designing buildings from the inside outwards, letting the essential structure dictate the form and therefore its external appearance. Functionalist ideas about design became the dominant design philosophy and language of the first half of the century. Also known as ‘the machine aesthetic’, it lasted up to the 1930s. The idea of design expressing the function of the product was followed by Henry Ford whose early cars also featured standardised parts and were made largely by machines.
While the sophisticated production technologies developing rapidly in America became dominant across the world, it was in Europe where art and industry combined to create what we now call industrial design; the design and development of products we can use productively and view also as aesthetic objects.

In 1909 Tomasso Marinetti, an Italian Futurist artist declared, in his Manifesto of Futurism:
“We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath – a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than The Victory of Samothrace.”
(Victory of Samothrace refers to a 200BC Greek sculpture in the Louvre, Paris)

Picasso Guitar sculpture.

Futurism was a movement in Italy which began in 1909. A literary and art movement, the Futurists advocated new forms in art and architecture. They sought the abandonment of historical themes in favour of the new age of machines, particularly machines of speed . . . cars, aeroplanes, even trams. This meant the destruction of past ideas of beauty, in favour of the new world of urban industrial culture. The Futurists combined their preoccupation with speed with their aims to show dynamic multiple viewpoints of the object. Their manifesto of 1910 declared:
“…we proclaim the absolute and complete abolition of determined lines and closed statues. We split open the figure and include the environment within it.”
This paralleled developments in Paris at the time, where artists Picasso and Braque, inspired by the 19th century painter Cezanne were creating Cubism, an art style that would revolutionise the world of art and design, removing naturalism from their work, replacing it with their own coded, almost abstract shapes: spheres, cylinders and cubes, which referred to how they perceived the world in modern times, rather than what the world had always ‘looked like’. They represented the world as an interlocking pattern of geometric units, split views from different positions, simultaneously depicted.
Cezanne had painted contours; not one line but several in parallel as if when he shifted his head the contours shifted relative to other shapes, the result being a dynamic effect to his picture, a three-dimensional recollection, sketched not finished. He achieved it particularly well with fruit.. fragments that were like visual shorthand, his scribbled ‘handwriting’ as it were, recognisable to all; but in the hands of the Cubists almost illegible to outsiders.
Picasso produced his Guitar which displayed multiple views of the object, splitting it open, turning it inside out.

The Futurist architect Sant’ Elia constructed only a few buildings (he was killed on the battlefield in 1916) but his designs remained extremely influential and his ideas for modern cities are still used today. The steeply rising terraces, the balconies, and the aerial bridges in his drawings conveyed the excitement of modern technology.
He said: “..I affirm that just as the ancients drew their inspiration in art from the elements of the natural world, so we – materially and spiritually artificial – must find our inspiration in the new mechanical world we have created..”
He rejected the tradition of adding decoration to structure saying that decoration as an element superimposed on architecture was absurd, and that the decorative value of Futurist architecture depended solely ‘on the use and original arrangement of raw or bare or violently coloured materials’
Though he died in 1916, his drawings lived on and were picked up, along with Futurist theories in 1917 by the De Stijl group.

Dutch for ‘The Style’ (pronounced the same), De Stijl took its name from a magazine started by Theo van Doesburg which ran from 1917 to 1928. Holland remained neutral during the 1914-18 war and avoided the catastrophic upheavals and production material shortages that brought the development of design to a halt in the rest of Europe.

Theo van Doesberg house design.

In contrast to the noisy and passionate Futurists,
De Stijl were cool…

Rationalist, abstract and enthralled by the machine, they rejected naturalism in place of formal abstraction, and set out to create a universal style in painting, architecture and design. They used rectangles and squares in flat planes of bold primary colors, and black, white and gray – all carefully arranged with straight lines. They were concerned with depicting space, the space between objects, and they gained inspiration from the Dutch architect H.P. Berlage, an admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright, who said..
“The art of the master builder lies in this: the creation of space, not the sketching of facades. A spatial envelope is established by means of walls, whereby a space, or a series of spaces is manifested, according to the complexity of the walling.”

Robert van’t Hoff, a founder member, introduced Wright’s work to the group, particularly his principles of composition, form, and hovering roofs, having been to visit various Wright houses which profoundly influenced his own designs.
Frank Lloyd Wright advocated the abandonment of historical architecture, seeing the need to adopt a new style utilising modern materials, steel and concrete and terra cotta, to create houses as sculpture. To the European avant-garde, seeing the geometric forms and spectacular cantilevers, Wright was a ‘machine architect’.

A protege of Louis Sullivan, Wright was a believer in Functionalism, designing houses at the turn of the century in which large open spaces, light and airy, dictated the exterior shape of the structure. The furniture he designed for them showed Arts and Crafts influences via C R Mackintosh, and this emphasis on the natural was reflected in his aim to harmonise the house with its environment, enhancing the concept of a house as shelter. Decoration was minimal, walls left clear from the base to the eaves, for as he said:
“simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art.”
Wright’s strong naturalistic streak was not apparent to the members of De Stijl, who would have rejected it. They saw only the images of his radical architecture which spoke to them of machine aesthetics and geometry, not naturalism.
De Stijl as a movement also rejected the ‘individualism’ of handcraft and decoration, believing these to be associated with closure and limitation. Instead, they sought the opposite. Machine production, abstraction, universalism were the way to achieve clarity and order in design. These they believed could express infinite space and undefined boundaries.

Mondrian’s studioThe prime mover of the De Stijl movement was the radically abstract painter Piet Mondrian. He created an entirely human-made reality and his artistic theories, expounded in the magazine, became De Stijl the movement. To Mondrian, red, yellow and blue were the only colours, apart from black and white.
Yellow was expansive and vertical, blue the opposite to yellow – soft, retiring, horizontal. Red expressed the radiating movement of life, uniting yellow and blue in an ‘inner’ way, unlike their common mixture, green.
Mondrian avoided the use of the colour green, because of its association with nature, and contemporaries recall the painter’s manouverings to avoid having to look out the window at fields or trees. His paintings, with their asymmetrical black lines looked like they were part of a larger environment. In the 1920s he arranged square shapes painted in primary colours around his studio and on his furniture, to extend the boundaries of his picture so it would become an environment to live in, not just to look at:
“The… picture will disappear as soon as we transfer its plastic beauty to the space around us through the organization of the room into colour areas.”

The goal of the artist had always been to interpret and reveal a natural order. Belief in a harmony created entirely by the artist/designer, and faith in the redemptive power of technology became the main principles of De Stijl.
The compelling geometric paintings of Piet Mondrian and equally striking furniture of Gerrit Rietveld have become timeless classics of 20th-century design. Rietveld’s buffet from 1919 shows these principles of construction, the prevailing relationship between line and plane, the qualities of lightness, and the use of the module in construction.

Rietveld said, about defining space:
“Scaling of undefined space to human proportions may be achieved by a line drawn on..a floor, a wall,..a combination of vertical and horizontal planes, curved or flat, transparent or massive. It is never a partitioning or closing off, but always a defining element of what is here and there, above and below, between and around.”

Rietveld buffet.

Originally a qualified cabinet-maker, and a fervent believer in prefabrication, he was a member of the group until 1930, by which time he was working as an independent architect. He aimed to design furniture for mass production that was cheap, that anyone could buy. From a social point of view he wanted to relieve the factory labourer from the boredom of hard and repetitive work, by means of machines. His chair, made in 1917 was revolutionary. Rietveld conceived this chair as separate constructions: the seat, the back, and the supporting frame.
“The construction of the Red/Blue chair is based on a module of 10 cm which corresponds approximately to the thickness of three rails and this simple geometric construction is so clear that the chair can be made without using any kind of working drawings.
The rails are doweled together and the seat and the back are fixed to the frame with screws.
…The chair was specifically built to show that it is possible to create something beautiful, a spatial creation, with simple machine- processed parts. I cut a board of wood into planks and squares. I then sawed the middle part into two for the seat and the backrest, and I made the frame part out of the different lengths of plank.
But as I was working on the chair, it never crossed my mind that one day it would become so significant that it would even influence architecture.”

Gerrit Rietveld chair.

Rietveld’s chair, an icon of modern design in its exploration of the nature of space, introduced the most radical change in the language of design for perhaps five hundred years. And its prototype originally had enclosed armrests.
Originally stained a natural wood colour, Reitveld painted his chair around 1923, in primary colours of red, yellow and blue, in the mistaken belief that this triad of colours was the basis of colour vision; the three receptors in the eye, he believed, were sensitive to each of these colours. The painted chair now looked like a painting, a Mondrian painting in primary colours which became three dimensional.

In 1920, he designed the interior of a doctor’s clinic, creating a light fitting that echoed the design principles of his furniture with its intersecting lines. Sculptural in its brevity, it consisted of several light bulbs suspended on their electrical wires that conveyed the effect of mathematical coordinates floating in space.
An architectural commission in 1924, the Schroder House in Utrecht, was conceived in terms of straight lines and rectangular planes, materialized in the form of slabs, posts and beams. In it, Rietveld defined volume by planar, or flat elements which are linked like playing cards slotted at their intersections, but float, due to the separation of the planes. Moving walls made it possible to partition the upper living area into smaller rooms. The inside of the house had planes, painted primary colours that continued the floating effect evident in the exterior of the house, creating an environment that suggested openness, harmony and the elimination of closure.

Mart Stam Cantileve red chair.

In 1926, Dutch architect Mart Stam, an associate of De Stijl and later with the Bauhaus, produced the first cantilevered chair. In this he developed the principle of an upright chair which had a frame separate from the seat and back like Rietveld’s. But it differed in the fact that it was not an armchair, and it simplified the shapes into a horizontal and vertical like the red/blue chair, but eliminated the separate supporting pieces, being a continuous frame with fabric stretched across it. This chair had a major influence and soon these cantilevered chairs were being produced by other designers.
Rietvld produced his cantilevered Zig-Zag Chair in 1934, the simplicity of it marked a radical departure from his earlier furniture. He designed the zig-zag chair so that it would remove a minimum of space from the volume of the room. As with most of Rietveld’s work its spatial characteristics, especially lightness, weightlessness, are its most important feature.

Eileen Grey Transat armchair.

His red/blue chair, as an armchair design was developed in other materials by designers such as Marcel Breuer of the Bauhaus, Le Courbusier and Eileen Gray.
Irish designer Eileen Gray met the De Stijl group in 1922. This exposure resulted in a functional approach to her furniture design, in which she concentrated on proportion and symmetry, using new materials in refined designs such as her transat armchair of 1929. Her best work was sparse, with emphasis on vertical and horizontal lines.
“A house is a machine for living in.”
Le Corbusier.

Le Corbusier Villa Savoye.

The quintessential modern designer of the period was Le Corbusier, a Swiss architect who, born Charles Edouard Jeannet, became the leader of the Modern Movement in architecture and design. His buildings from the 1920s were typically white and flat roofed in imitation of Meditteranean indigenous architecture , and he achieved a simple purity of form in all his work.

After 1915 he began producing radical schemes for houses drawing on ideas from industrial forms. In 1923 the first villa was created according to his principles of architecture and in 1931 he created the Villa Savoye. Le Corbusier’s early work culminates in this villa. The rectangular house is supported by slender steel columns and the nonstructural walls define the space. Curving walls on the roof create a plastic, sculptural look that contrasts with the floating plane that is the living space, epitomising modern style, while performing the function of shelter over the terrace within.
Like other Modernists he wanted to ‘purify’ architecture of ornament to reveal the hidden structure and function of a building. He made a virtue of simplicity. He designed using basic forms- squares and rectangles, (later on, curves) – and his building materials were concrete and steel.

Le Corbusier Chaise Longue.

In product design he is best known for his furniture, particularly his grand comfort armchair and his chaise longue.
The Chaise Longue of 1928 extended the construction principles of Rietvelds red/blue chair, (its separation of seat from frame) reworking it in metal and soft furnishings. An anti-Functionalist and artist, Le Corbusier considered his creations in the domain of visual arts of primary importance and proclaimed that his architectural creations flowed from them.
“Profile and contour are the touchstone of the Architect.”

Le Corbusier Grand Confort armchair.

In the grand comfort armchair, Le Corbusier created a piece of sumptuous comfort, that at the same time conveyed meanings of home, a house, a dwelling. He did this by enclosing the soft furnishings within a wraparound metal frame, copying the traditional huge Victorian armchair, but creating shapes that referred to his houses.
“The business of Architecture is to show emotional relationships with raw materials. Architecture goes beyond utilitarian needs… Passion can create drama out of inert stone.”
This, he said, is what defines an architect or designer as an ‘artist or mere engineer.’
He was not only one of the three most influential architects of this century (together with Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe) but also an extremely gifted artist and designer. Le Corbusier produced a considerable number of paintings, sculptures, drawings, graphics, and even tapestries. After World War II, Le Corbusier turned to a building style of organic forms using deliberately rugged, crude and imprecise forms and surfaces. A modernist designer for the luxury market, Le Corbusier represented the visual branch of modernism, where his contemporary designers at the Bauhaus at Weimar continued the thread of Arts and Crafts philosophy of craft and affordable products – but using the new materials, industrial processes and geometric styles of the modern times.


•January 27, 2010 • 2 Comments

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld was born in 1888 as the son of a furniture maker in the city of Utrecht. Immediately after primary school he started working in his father’s furniture workshop, first as a helper, then as a mate and eventually he became skilful at even the most complicated techniques. In his father’s workshop he learned the tricks of the woodcraft trade. During this time Rietveld took evening classes at the School for Industrial Art in Utrecht.

The Rietveld Schröder House was the start of a long and successful career for Gerrit Rietveld as an architect. After designing the row of houses at Erasmuslaan in 1931 – four ultramodern mansions just a stone’s throw away from the Rietveld Schröder House – he had made a name for himself. His ambition was to build large-scale housing projects for the lower social classes. The simplicity of the architecture and the functionalism of his designs would give to comfortable homes for the working class and thus to the enlightenment of society. However, despite his contribution to some social housing projects in Utrecht, Rietveld was known mainly for his designs of country houses and villas commissioned by the well-to-do. Other prestigious projects in the 1950s and 1960s include the designs of the art academies in Amsterdam and Arnhem and of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Rietveld died in 1964.

1918 was an important year for Rietveld. He had already established his own furniture workshop. He became a contributor to ‘De Stijl’, a periodical that was established in 1917 and edited by Theo van Doesburg. The artists of ‘De Stijl’ supported a universal art, with a passion for purity. Art had to be abstract, form only straight lines and join only the colours red, yellow and blue. The true pure shape would exist of straight lines and these pure, primary colours, emphasising the spatial effect of the design.

Rietveld met Truus Schröder-Schräder when he was still working in his father’s workshop. He refurbished a room in the stately mansion in Utrecht where she lived with her husband and children. Rietveld ensured that the room fulfilled her personal requirements. In 1923, after her husband had died, she asked Rietveld to design a house for her and her children with a sitting room on the second floor. Her advice had much influence on the result of the Rietveld Schröder House. This commission gave Rietveld the opportunity to shape his ideas about living space.

In Rietveld’s opinion, conventional houses lead to a passive life style. He wanted living in a home to be a conscious act. The design of the Rietveld Schröder House is based on this conviction. Whatever the occupant wanted to do – bathe, sleep, cook – she always had to give it some thought and do something for it: create the bathroom by unfolding a partition, make up the sofa bed, fold out the table. Just as Rietveld’s red-and-blue chair manifests active sitting, the Rietveld Schröder House manifests conscious and active living. Truus Schröder-Schräder lived there from 1924 until her death in 1985.
The Rietveld Schröder House stands in a residential area in the eastern part of the city of Utrecht. When the house was built it was situated on the edge of the built-up area and it offered views over an undeveloped area that was part of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie (New Dutch Inundation Line). Most of this area has now been built over.

Schroder House

The nature of the Schroder House is well connected to the drawing of Piet Mondrian.

Composition in red and blue- Piet Mondrian

It is important to add that the compelling geometric paintings of Piet Mondrian and equally striking furniture of Gerrit Rietveld have become timeless classics of 20th-century design. One of the highlights in Rietveld’s career is ‘The red-and-blue chair’. He designed the chair, composed of two panels and several slats of wood, in 1918. He painted the chair in primary colours in 1923. Several similar but non-identically executed copies have been made over the years. Rietveld wanted to create a handsome chair that does not fill the space it occupies but rather keeps it transparent. Furthermore, he wanted to design a chair that could be machine-made. In the end, the chair was never mass-produced: there was not enough interest for its design as it was not comfortable to sit in. However, the red-and-blue chair became a worldwide icon of everything radical and creative in the world of art, design and architecture.

The house of Mrs Schroder is located next to the main street and it different from other houses in the area. Scale, materiality makes the house looking strange and taken out of context.

Interior and exterior of the house are very interesting because every detail plays important role in the structure.

Floor plan



Plan of the house clearly shows open and closed spaces. Interior is arranged in a functional way with sense of geometry.The ground floor has four main spaces, where upper floor is an open plan space.

Today the Rietveld Schröder House is the only house ever to be designed according to the principles defined by the group of artists who moved within the circles of the periodical ‘De Stijl’. The house dates from 1924 and has since been the topic of many a conversation. The extremely compact house is the pinnacle of early 20th-century, modern building. It was and still is an example and reference for countless architects and interior designers from all over the world.
Its restoration based on the original designs and photographs has contributed substantially to the preservation of its qualities. Some essential, constructive improvements have been implemented, whilst some later changes have been preserved. For instance, cracks in the brickwork required repair and corroded ironwork was replaced. The roofing has been replaced with more modern material which is better suited to withstand weather conditions. Elements that were lost or modified over the course of time have been reintroduced into the interior, most of them in their original form. Through this approach, the house can be recognised to this very day as being the very design that was realised by G.T. Rietveld and T. Schröder in 1924. It is partly for this reason that the house was included on the World Heritage List in 2000. Its inscription can contribute to preserving and possibly strengthening the qualities of the Rietveld Schröder House, which is an icon of modern building. Preservation and reinforcement of the qualities stem primarily from the Dutch government’s duty to conserve the site, ensuing from its inscription on the World Heritage List.


•January 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Throughout the years architect were thinking about new possibilities for the cities and their habitants. They wanted to create comfortable and functional spaces.
Adolf Loos – rejecter ornament.
Futurists- created manifesto; they were thinking about new possibilities for the city.
In France was a new post-war movement – PURISM that took a beginning from Picasso paintings. Purism rejected decorative theme of cubism and returned to clear, ordered forms. The basis of the Purist movement is the work made between 1918 and 1925 by Purism’s founders and leading proponents, Ozenfant and Jeanneret (Le Corbusier), and the work of 1920–25 by their closest colleague, Fernand Léger. Purism evolved as a response to both the artistic and the historic conditions in post–World War I Paris. Realized particularly in painting and architecture, Purism championed a traditional classicism with a formal focus on clean geometries, yet it simultaneously embraced new technologies, new materials, and the machine aesthetic.
Le Corbusier was influenced by many of these thinkers and wanted to apply them to his own practice. He pulled together some parts of those theories and produced his own. He also was influenced by many others, like Taut, Gropius while he was travelling in Europe (Italy, Greece, France and Switzerland).
To understand proportions of the space he created Golden section.
Le Corbusier early experiments are: Maison Fallet 1905-06, Domino Skeleton 1914-1915.
Maison (Villa) Fallet- Le Corbusier wanted to achieve the Swiss style and wanted to use materials and was thinking about their new possibilities.
• Number of innovations
• Free arrange of the facade
• New combinations of windows and walls
• Free plan arrangement
• Very practical
His new designs showed new scale of the spaces, new arrangement and new technology of steel and concrete. Le Corbusier’s Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau (Pavilion of the New Spirit), built in 1925 for the International Exposition of Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris was an experiment and shows this new spatial arrangement.

Le Corbusier created Four Compositions – 1929

Designing inside out- Vill Le Roche

Deegre of possibilities- Villa Savoye

Single envelope.

Pure form

Le Corbusier also wrote First use of Five Points of Architecture , which he used in full creating Maison Cook in 1926.

• The piloits (columns)
• The toit-jardin (roof garden)
• The plan libre (free plan)
• The fenetre de longerue (long window of the facade)
• The facade libre (free facade)

Le Corbusier wanted to provide man with a new dwelling which will have an identity of his own.
He was inspired by many thinkers and architects and he saw that the world needs “free plans” and “open forms”. This gave him a new way to find a new language of form. Every architect this day wants to find the great language that will help to create new spaces with new meanings.
The same was in the times of Enlightenment were people were trying to find the meaning for everything and they wanted to understand about the past. I was as well looking at this kind of intellectual change in the society, while writing my thesis “Delight in Eighteenth Century Country Houses designed by Robert Adam”.
The society of the eighteenth century was greatly polite and educated, especially aristocracy. Robert Adam was a great architect that was very successful through changing the whole interiors of the spaces so people could experience it and be delighted. He wanted to satisfy the mind of the society.
To make it possible he had to return to the origins of Greeks and Romans. This was in a great interest of the eighteenth century society. He had to change a classical style and apply his own style. This is a phenomenology of developing possibilities.