As the love of my life is of the dutch persuasion we do spend quite some time visiting the land of tulips, windmills and mullet haircuts! This week we are here for a family holiday – the dutch are much more family oriented than we are back in Scotland (at least these dutch are). I find it hard to imagine going on holiday with just my immediate family never mind adding aunts and uncles into the mix – horror!! But…twice yearly we make the trip to Holland and spend time with each half of the family. This trip we spent the weekend in Holland’s number one national park, De Hoge Veluwe, cycling on the “white bicycles” and playing boules. All in all a very civilised and enjoyable weekend.
Today, no offence Habbema family, has been the top day of my trip. After our initial plan to spend the day cycling on Texel was cancelled due to the rotten weather, it was suggested by my “mother-in-law” that we spend the day instead in Utrecht on more cultural pursuits – she is ever the educator! Now normally I’m not a huge fan of museums (and the music box museum was mentioned over breakfast) but we ended up somewhere slightly different. We paid a visit to the Rietveld Schroder House which is a Unesco World Heritage Site, just like the Grand Canyon….only slightly more compact. Now if you’d have asked me over breakfast this morning I wouldn’t have had a clue who Rietveld or Schroder were but……show me a Rietveld chair and immediately it is recognisable. The house itself is perched on the end of a typical Utrecht block of houses and is now hemmed in by a motorway. On approach you can appreciate that it is a great little house, like the physical incarnation of a Mondriaan painting. Please if you are ever in Utrecht and at a loose end jump on bus 4 from Centraal, this house is so clever you just have to see it. There are photographs in the house taken before the urban sprawl of Utrecht took over the polder landscape which allow you understand what it must have been like when it was built in 1924 and why they picked such an odd place to build – Schroder herself stated that the land used to be used by truckers as a toilet stop!
Rietveld and Schroder designed the house around the interior space using some of the same principles that Rietveld used to design his famous red and blue chair and every single millimetre of space has been used to its full potential. You really have to see this place to believe it and realise that, in the world of IKEA and space saving for inner city living, this house is the forebearer. It is perfect in its simplicity and practicality and masterful in the way that it’s clean straight lines bring the outside in and vice versa. It’s also heartbreaking that the reason the house was built in that space, the amazing view over surrounding countryside, has now been swallowed up by the city and the motorway.
What price progress?
Photo credit: edwindejongh