|Architects||RIETVELD, GERRIT THOMAS|
|Address||Prins Hendriklaan 50, 3583 EP Utrecht, The Netherlands|
A cardboard Mondrian: so it was once called, more in perplexity than derision. It is one of two works of world consequences by Rietveld - the other is his famous ‘red-blue’ chair and yet, when one looks at it there could hardly be a less likely candidate for fame. Tiny, structurally timid, badly sited, undistinguished in plan, it may once have had compelling local and private virtues for its inhabitants that are now difficult to make convincing to outsiders, but what assures it its place in the world scene is it’s exterior. Here for the first time, in 1924 the aesthetic possibilities of the hard school of modern architecture were uncompromisingly and brilliantly revealed (no early house of Le Corbusier is comparable until 1926, his first vintage year). The small cube of the house expands in a proliferation of flyaway planes, horizontal and vertical, that sometimes collide in right angled intersections. There may be a long-range debt to Wright, but the implications of Wright's domestic space-games have been purged and made clean through the aesthetic detergency of European abstract art. The surfaces are indeed, as smooth and as neutral of those of a Mondrian painting, in similar colours, relieved only by a use of glass that emphasises it’s immaterial quality (unlike the jewelled presence of the glass in Wright's Robie House) and by a few lean, sparse metal stanchions that support the edges of some of the flying planes, and steam-pipe hand rails that make some of the planes usable as balconies. Machine aesthetic; rectangular space play; the bare minimum of the modern architecture that was to be.
Banham R. Age of the Masters: A Personal View of Modern Architecture. Harper & Row., 1975. P. 68.
|Photos and Plan|