Diagrams of the Rietveld Schroder House Reveal its Graphic and Geometric Brilliance


Courtesy of Yun Frank Zhang

Courtesy of Yun Frank Zhang

As one of the most prominent examples of the De Stijl movement, the 1925 Rietveld Schroder House represents a radical moment in modern architecture. Categorized by refining components to their geometric forms and primary paint hues, characteristics of the movement are evident in the architect Gerrit Rietveld’s approach to residential design. Located in Utrecht, the house experiments with modular elements such as collapsible walls that provide a transformable way of living that still influences design to this day.

Because of its significance, the Schroder House has been the subject of study for many architects, artists, and historians. Inspired by its revolutionary design, aspiring architect and visual artist Yun Frank Zhang created a series of analytical diagrams and an accompanying video in order to understand the functionality, dimensions, and programmatic elements of the house. Below is a sample of Zhang’s exploration.


Courtesy of Yun Frank Zhang

Courtesy of Yun Frank Zhang

Zhang first investigates the geometries of the house in the plan, using a De Stijl inspired color palate to understand the lengths and widths of the rooms. The gradient of blue signifies the rooms that meet the 1:1.618 criteria of the golden ratio. Red is representative of rooms that are perfectly square. In examining the mathematical qualities of the space, Zhang acknowledges the De Stijl movement’s emphasis on proportion.


Courtesy of Yun Frank Zhang

Courtesy of Yun Frank Zhang

To classify the accessibility of the first floor, Zhang color codes the programmatic uses of its rooms. Circulation spaces such as the stairwell are cataloged as yellow, rooms that have more than one entrance are blue, and private spaces such as the maiden’s room are left red.  A focus on the first floor rather than the second is due to its more static nature, which lends itself to a more valuable study of how the space is inhabited.


Courtesy of Yun Frank Zhang

Courtesy of Yun Frank Zhang

As a representation of the dynamic nature of the second floor, Zhang presents an axonometric diagram that conveys the variety of its states. Depending on the placement of the partition walls, two specific conditions emerge. The top section of the diagram displays the floor when all the walls are collapsed and the lower section illustrates when all the walls are installed. The yellow labeled stairwell and red bathroom are the only breaks in wall-free open floor plan, whereas three distinctly private rooms are created when they are up.

To learn more about Yun Frank Zhang’s analysis of the Schroder House and to see some of his other work visit his website.

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