IconicHouses.org

news

Film Screenings: Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House

Inside Iconic Houses - Online Tour Program

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Van Doesburg Rinsema House

Welcome Rietveld's Van Daalen House!

Corberó Space: New Life for Hidden Jewel

Architect Harry Gessner Dead at 97

Icon Saved: Dorchester Drive House

Welcome Umbrella House!

Iconic Houses in the Netherlands – Berlage’s Masterpiece

Welcome Atelier Volten!

SPECIAL – Iconic Dreams - Sleep in an Iconic House!

SPECIAL - Vacances en France!

SPECIAL - Casas Icónicas en España!

SPECIAL – German Greats!

SPECIAL – Dutch Delights!

SPECIAL – Northern (High)Lights!

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Het Schip

Inside Iconic Houses - Tour of Maison Cazenave

Inside Iconic Houses Tours Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami

Casa Masó Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

Inside Iconic Houses tours Roland Reisley's Usonian Frank Lloyd Wright House

Rietveld’s Experimental Housing in Reeuwijk Saved

Serralves Villa after restoration

Watch Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House Now On Demand

Portraits of the Architect - Interview with Gennaro Postiglione

Test Labs for New Ideas - Interview with Natascha Drabbe

Inside Iconic Houses - Isokon Building

Inside Iconic Houses - 16 December: Sunnylands with Janice Lyle

BCN-BXL Coderch-De Koninck - Beyond Time

New Chairman Architect Nanne de Ru on The Perfect Platform

Health and Home - Interview with Beatriz Colomina

A Life Less Ordinary – Interview with Valentijn Carbo

Invisible Women - Interview with Alice T. Friedman

Winy Maas on the Green Dip

Anita Blom on Experimental Housing of the 1970s

Women’s Worlds - Interview with Natalie Dubois

The Culture of Living - Interview with Robert von der Nahmer

Hetty Berens: A Fresh Take on Modernism

Niek Smit on Supporting Modern Heritage

Alice Roegholt on Amsterdam’s Working-Class Palaces

July is Iconic Houses Month

Save Maison Zilveli - Sign the Petition!

How a Building Tells a Story - Recorded Event

Toolkit for Owners of a Modern House

13 Aalto Sites Nominated for UNESCO World Heritage

Villa Beer At Risk - Sign the Petition!

Business Cards of Stone, Timber and Concrete in the Brussels Region 1830-1970

Exhibiting & Visiting Modernist Monuments

Fostering Well-Researched Responsible Design

ICONS AT RISK

Enjoy a virtual visit to the California House and a Q&A with architect Peter Gluck

Exhibition 'Modernism and Refuge'

A Hidden Gem of Postmodernism

New Centre for Historic Houses of India

An Online Chronicle of the Douglas House

Villa Henny, geometric style icon in The Netherlands

A Mendini temple in Amsterdam

IH-lectures USA & Canada Feb 2020 on Melnikov House

An Afternoon with the Glucks

Danish Moderns – Looking Back at Our Mini-Seminar

Venturo house complements Exhibition Centre WeeGee’s offering

Lecture report: Remembering Richard Neutra

Hôtel Mezzara and the Guimard Museum project

We welcome 13 new members!

BREAKING NEWS: 8 Wright Sites Inscribed on Unesco World Heritage List!

LECTURE 29 August - Raymond Neutra: My Father and Frank Lloyd Wright

Iconic Reads

SPECIAL – Iconic Artist Residencies

Our Badge of Honour

SPECIAL – Women & Iconic Houses

SPECIAL – Iconic Housing

Iconic Houses End Year Message

City-ordered rebuild of landmark house stirs debate: Appropriate or overreach?

Kohlberg House Restoration in Progress

Planned Demolition of Rietveld Homes in Reeuwijk

Renovation Gili House in Crisis

An Iconic Saga

Restoring Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 and Clarifying the Controversies

Modernism on the East Coast

Iconic Houses in Latin America

House Tours May 2018 

Expert Meetings

Terence Riley -KEYNOTE SPEAKER- on Philip Johnson

New era for Villa E-1027 and Cap Moderne

Jorge Liernur -KEYNOTE SPEAKER- on Latin American Modernism(s)

Restoring the past: The Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Home Studio

Behind the Scenes: Hendrick de Keyser Association

Latin America Special – Focus on Mexico

De Stijl in Drachten

Preserving the Nancarrow House-Studio

Meet the Friends - Nanne de Ru

Latin America Special – Focus on Brazil

Jan de Jong’s House is Latest Hendrick de Keyser Acquisition

Stay in a Belgian Modernist Masterpiece

In Berlin’s Modernist Network

Rietveld-Schröder House Celebrates De Stijl Anniversary

Meet Our New Foundation Board Members

Virtual Tour of a Papaverhof Home in 3D

Getty Grant for Villa E-1027

Iconic Dacha

11 Le Corbusier Homes now on Unesco World Heritage List

At home with Le Corbusier

Wright Plus 2016 Walk

Speaking Volumes: Building the Iconic Houses Library

Follow us!

Documentary La Ricarda

Rent a house designed by Gerrit Rietveld

Barragán House on Screen

Gesamtkunstwerk – An Icon on the Move

Triennale der Moderne 27 September - 13 October 2013

Prestigious Art Nouveau mansions in Brussels open

September 14 + 15: Heritage Days in Paris

June's New Arrivals: Museum Apartments

Iconic Houses is now on Twitter and Facebook

Corbu’s Cabanon: Reconstruction and Lecture

Projekt Mies In Krefeld: Life-sized model of the Krefeld Clubhouse

New arrivals: Spain special

MAMO: Le Corbu’s ‘Park in the Sky’ open 12 June

Annual Wright Architectural Housewalk: 18 May

Frank Lloyd Wright Homes on Screen

Message from the Editor

Neutra’s House on Screen

Melnikov House on Screen

Iconic Houses in the media

Message from the Editor

Eileen Gray House on Screen

Copy Culture

At Home in the 20th Century

New 20th century Iconic Houses website launches

Publication date 20 September 2022

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Van Doesburg Rinsema House

  • The back room of the Van Doesburg Rinsema House, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • The facade of the Van Doesburg Rinsema House at Torenstraat 3, photo Museum Dr8888.
  • The Parrot District in Drachten, photo Jean Housen.
  • Colour scheme for the staircase by Theo van Doesburg, September 1921. Watercolour with ink and pencil on paper, collection Museum Dr8888.
  • Detail of the stairs on the ground floor, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • The hall with the striking staircase, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • Detail south corner Torenstraat, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • A glimpse into the kitchen, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • Detail of the outside window and the counter in the kitchen, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • The ground floor of the house museum, photo Jildo-Tim Hof.
  • Municipal architect Cees Rienks de Boer, photo Museum Dr8888.
  • Artist Theo van Doesburg, photo Museum Dr8888.
  • The back room of the Van Doesburg Rinsema House, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • The facade of the Van Doesburg Rinsema House at Torenstraat 3, photo Museum Dr8888.
  • The Parrot District in Drachten, photo Jean Housen.
  • Colour scheme for the staircase by Theo van Doesburg, September 1921. Watercolour with ink and pencil on paper, collection Museum Dr8888.
  • Detail of the stairs on the ground floor, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • The hall with the striking staircase, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • Detail south corner Torenstraat, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • A glimpse into the kitchen, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • Detail of the outside window and the counter in the kitchen, photo Mark Sekuur, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • The ground floor of the house museum, photo Jildo-Tim Hof.
  • Municipal architect Cees Rienks de Boer, photo Museum Dr8888.
  • Artist Theo van Doesburg, photo Museum Dr8888.

An Icon of 'De Stijl' in Drachten

Natascha Drabbe takes us to the most iconic houses from the twentieth century in the Netherlands. One of the most important movements in architecture in the 1920s was De Stijl. A world-famous example of this movement is Gerrit Rietveld's Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht. The fact that colour and its effect on the perception of space were also experimented in the far north of the Netherlands, only became clear with the opening in 2018 of the Van Doesburg Rinsema House in Drachten.

In 1921 Cees Rienks de Boer (1881-1966), a local architect, was commissioned by the municipality Smallingerland in which Drachten is located, to design sixteen houses and a school, as part of the expansion plan Stapenséa 1918. The residences of the so-called ‘Parrot District’ are middle-class housing. Through the mediation of the Drachter shoemaker and poet Evert Rinsema (1880-1958), a kindred spirit of De Stijl, artist Theo Van Doesburg was commissioned to design a colour scheme for both the exterior and the interior of this project. Van Doesburg (1883-1931) was during his military service duty befriended with Evert Rinsema. De Boer sent his designs to Theo van Doesburg, who together with architect J.J.P. Oud (1890-1963) tweaked them. Their comments led to adjustments and additions, such as the cubic bay windows. These homes and the new school Rijkslandbouwwinterschool (National Agricultural Winter School) were built on the former Eerste Parallelweg, Torenstraat, Houtlaan and Oosterstraat.

Colour Scheme
Van Doesburg designed a scheme is inspired and based on the typical use of colours in De Stijl: the primary colours red, blue, and yellow, along with the colours black, white, and gray for the houses. He also included the gardens of the houses in the colour scheme. He was given free rein and incorporated all kinds of theories into his plans. Sometimes he took architecture into account; sometimes he just did what he wanted. For the interiors, he used the open beamed ceilings as lines in his composition and for the walls, Van Doesburg used gray wallpaper to create areas of colour that remained separate from the ceilings and skirting boards. For the gardens he designed coloured areas with plants, coloured terraces, and garden paths.

Theo van Doesburg designed a colour scheme based on the primary colours  

The artist chose to use secondary colours such as green, orange, and purple for the school building, which forms a strong contrast with the primary colours of the houses. The plans clearly show all these aspects: architectural theories, classically coloured construction drawings, free interpretation of architecture and urban planning as coloured areas and subtle colour compositions with wall coverings and coloured paper.

Van Doesburg's controversial 'Parrot District'
This unique project to design sixteen medium-sized houses and a school turned out to be quite controversial. It was new for an artist to have such freedom to apply art to architecture. However, the inhabitants of Drachten were far from happy and the neighbourhood soon acquired the negative nickname 'de Papegaaienbuurt' (Parrot District), which is still in vogue to this day. It is said that the houses were painted over in 1922 because of the negative reactions. However, research has shown that this is not the case. The first colour change took place around 1928-1930, during regular maintenance. Based on historical photo material, it is even doubtful whether the colour scheme was completely abandoned at that time. The residents have probably already adapted their interior to their own taste before.

The neighborhood nicknamed 'Parrot District'  

Even today, the colour schemes are controversial. In 1988 the original colours were restored, and the Theo van Doesburg Drachten Foundation was established to maintain the restored designs. The Parrot District is a special residential area in the Netherlands and even more so for the province of Friesland. As an artist, Van Doesburg was involved in the design and implementation of the project from an early stage. It was a ground-breaking experiment for both the artist and the architect.

The architect De Boer was mainly known for his rather traditional architecture. Some of his projects, ranging from farms, homes, and business premises, can still be found in Drachten. He was interested in De Stijl but did not design white plastered walls for the Parrot District or used concrete as most important building material. At the time concrete was considered the epitome of modernity and, according to Oud and Van Doesburg, concrete was necessary to create the colourful windows to look good. This was most likely due to financial constraints, although De Boer was already struggling to get the very modern colour schemes approved by the local government. The proposal to finish the corners of the buildings with iron and glass never materialized

The Van Doesburg Rinsema House
In 2011, Museum Dr8888 made plans to restore one of the houses in the Parrot District and redevelop it into a house museum, the so-called Van Doesburg Rinsema House. The museum investigated whether this house, modelled on the Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht, could serve as a satellite museum of Museum Dr8888. After extensive historical and architectural-historical research between 2012 and 2017, the house at Torenstraat 3 has been completely restored to its original state.

Research to the colours of residences is generally a difficult process. The project in Drachten proves that it does not have to be. Van Doesburg’s letters, in which he describes which pigments were to be used and what he thought of the result, were also examined. The first phase of the research, with help of the Rijksmuseum and the University of Amsterdam, into the in-situ paint layers showed quite clearly that the original layers of paint were still present underneath over a dozen later layers. Fragments of wallpaper were also found in the houses that correspond with Van Doesburg’s original samples and design drawings. Initially it was unclear whether Van Doesburg’s plans for the wallpapers were implemented and if so, in which manner. Through archival research, in-situ research, and reconstructions it could be concluded that the wallpaper was most likely implemented in the initial construction of the houses, but not entirely as envisioned by Van Doesburg.

In 1988 the original colours were brought back  

The Van Doesburg Rinsema House has been open as a house museum since 2018. Many of the sketches and designs for the interior and exterior by Cees Rienks de Boer and Theo van Doesburg are part of the collection of Museum Dr8888 in Drachten and can be seen there regularly. Just like the drawn designs and studies for Van Doesburg's stained glass windows in the school and the replicas of the furniture designed by Thijs Rinsema: brother of Evert, and also a shoemaker and active as an artist in his spare time.

Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House
For those who are curious about more stories about the developments in Dutch residential architecture in the twentieth century, Iconic Houses has made a video in which five specialists discussing the following topics:

  • Hygiene and Health in the Modern Home by Hetty Berens, Curator of the Sonneveld House.
  • Palaces for the People by Valentijn Carbo, Architectural Historian at Hendrick de Keyser Minuments.
  • A Woman’s Place: Clients & Architects, by Natalie Dubois, Curator of Design at the Centraal Museum Utrecht.
  • Experiments with Space by Robert von der Nahmer, resident of the Diagoon House.
  • Home as a Self-Portrait: Architect ‘s Houses by Natascha Drabbe, Architectural Historian and owner of the Van Schijndel House.

The 1 hour video can be streamed via the webshop.

About the author
Natascha Drabbe, architectural historian and resident of the renowned Van Schijndelhuis in Utrecht, is Executive Director and Founder of Iconic Houses, the international network of owners and managers of architecturally significant houses from the twentieth century. This group of museum professionals, lovers of modern heritage and private owners of modern houses strives to preserve modern residential heritage. The website iconichouses.org serves as a platform for more than one hundred and fifty Iconic Houses around the world, of which no fewer than 24 are in the Netherlands. The houses can all be visited (some only by appointment) and in some you can even stay overnight.

This article previously appeared in Dutch Magazine Herenhuis #90, July/August 2022.

Publication date 20 September 2022