Monday, September 15, 2008

The Fabulous Architecture of Utrecht:

This past Sunday I had the chance to see some really wonderful buildings in the Netherlands with a friend. I've been wanting to see these spaces forever–more or less since I knew that they existed–and even more so since a friend once mentioned that my early design work seemed to be very De Stijl–a few years back. How my visual output has changed since then. Enter Utrecht: the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and I would venture to say one that rivals, if not surpasses, Amsterdam in terms of charm factor. Well, then again, maybe it doesn't. But it is cute; mainly because of the lack of tourist. A welcomed change indeed, not that I hardly ever encounter any tourists because of where I live in Amsterdam, though still nice. Utrecht is the the location of the Rietveld Schröder House, the only piece of architecture to ever be designed in accordance to all principles of the De Stijl movement. The house was, more or less, designed with me in mind as its future tour guide. That is, once the building would become open to the public. Every wall, door, drawer, chair, window, you name it; moves, can be rearranged, open-closed, everything. I love anything with buttons, components that transform, etc. Our tour guide left a bit more to be desired, as he was a bit shy on moving the walls of the house around, and such. I joked with my friend, who headed up the architecture tour that day, that if I were the guide, I'd practically be dragging the guests around saying, 'Ok now come over here and see what this wall can do. And this shelf. Oh, and this too!' So true. The Red and Blue Chair by Gerrit Rietveld: there was an original in the house, and when we were touring the home, and everyone was in another room. I was this close to sitting down in it. But then my super-moral conscious kicked in. And it told me that the chair was an original, tiny, and that if I did sit it it, that it would probably break–I didn't want to break it. If I had, I did I would forever be known as the 'guy who broke the 'Red and Blue Chair'–so I opted instead to admire it from a close distance. Utrecht is delightful; it's architecture, fabulous.