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Living in a Rietveld

Corresponding with the master architect

Feature reference : Rietveld-EQ-45
Category : interiors
Location : Elst, the Netherlands
Number of images : 53
Photographer : Esther Quelle
Words : Text delivery in consultation with client
Text : Helen Conijn
Credits : photography Esther Quelle/text Helen Conijn/
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To give thanks for the help that he got during World War II from general practitioner Van Ommeren, famous architect Gerrit Rietveld (1888 – 1964) drew a new home for the doctor’s family in 1947. Rietveld, who was hiding from the occupying power, depended on men like Sander van Ommeren who biked a considerable distance to bring food to Rietveld in Utrecht. Their friendship grew, which translated into the drawing of a new home for the Van Ommerens on a plot of land which has the most incredible view over the river Rhine. Sander’s son Willem grew up in this Rietveld house. As he occured in the footsteps of his father, he and his wife Nanny were offered the opportunity to live in this special monument. ‘Not in every respect living in this house is a joy,’ says the owner. ‘Rietveld showed a great interest in light and space in the living areas. The functional rooms like the bathroom and the kitchen though, were meant to be functional only. Tiny was large enough,’ Nevertheless, Willem would never want to live elsewhere. The house and its original Rietveld elements – varying from the medicine cabinet next to the front door, to the bookcase on the landing – are being cherished. The handwriting of the great architect is still legible, literally. De correspondence between him and doctor Van Ommeren is preserved: ‘I am working on the details of the balcony (...) this needs to be done very precisely because these connections often are causes of leakages. Signed: Rietv.’
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