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.


~ by malgodesign on January 27, 2010.


  1. […] BIBLIOGRAPHY and reading list Author Unknown. “Contemporary Practise.” 27 January 2010. WordPress. 7 June 2010. https://contemporarypractice.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/rietveld-schroder-house/> […]

  2. This is the coolest building in the UNIVERSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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