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22 November 2018

Planned Demolition of Rietveld Homes in Reeuwijk

The Cuypers Society, a Dutch national monument organization, is seriously concerned about the intended demolition of 46 (out of a total of 52) Rietveld homes in Reeuwijk, the Netherlands. According to Reeuwijk Housing Association’s plan, only one residential block of eight houses would be spared. The Cuypers Society believes that the houses in Reeuwijk are of great architectural and cultural-historical value. The special floorplan gave its name to these so-called ‘om-en-om-homes’ (‘om en om’ is a Dutch expression meaning ‘alternating’). The core of the concept is the equality of the front and rear façades. The Cuypers Society calls on the municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk and the owner to dedicate themselves to the restoration of all of the houses.

Gerrit Rietveld on a field trip to recently realized work


Thanks to the Rietveld Foundation for bringing this short video from the family archive online for us, we can see here never before shown archive material in which Gerrit Rietveld visits four of his building projects that he realized between 1956-1959. We see Rietveld walking around with Stedelijk Museum director Willem Sandberg at the projects that have just been completed: the Van den Doel residence in Ilpendam, the houses in Reeuwijk, the Cordemeyer house in Apeldoorn and Schrale Beton in Zwolle. The video, (remastered by The Little Archives of the World), was made by Gerrit's son Jan Rietveld, who was also an architect, and the fragment in Reeuwijk is from 1:32 to 3:19.

Gerrit Rietveld
Gerrit Rietveld is world famous as a furniture maker and architect. His designs are among the icons of Dutch heritage. Rietveld’s built oeuvre consists mainly of individual villas and some larger projects such as the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Larger housing projects from his hand are rare. In fact, Rietveld realized only three social housing projects. Therefore, the houses in Reeuwijk-Brug have an enormous rarity value. Although the residences have changed considerably on the outside due to a renovation in 1979-1980, the Rietveld character is still present in essence and can be heightened by restoration. Demolition of these houses would be a mistake of historic proportions and cause unnecessary damage to Dutch cultural heritage. Earlier this year, the Cuypers Society called on the municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk and the owner to dedicate themselves to the restoration of all of the houses.

Scale model housing in Reeuwijk, Gerrit Th. Rietveld, 1957-1958. Rietveld Schröder Archive, Centraal Museum Utrecht.

It is certainly possible to combine the restoration of the houses’ original appearance with the realization of contemporary homes. Elsewhere in the Netherlands, in Utrecht, Amersfoort and Amsterdam for example, a lot of experience has already been gained in improving and preserving significant post-war housing projects. Various architects have specialized in this area. Reeuwijk Housing Association should make use of the knowledge gained elsewhere.

Jan Rietveld in front of the 'om-and-om-complex' circa 1959. Photo Gerrit Rietveld, Rietveld Schröder Archive, Centraal Museum Utrecht.

The status to date
At the moment, a project group has been formed consisting of representatives of all the residents, the housing association, the municipality, architects, urban planners and heritage experts to investigate whether complete restoration and renovation of the houses is possible or whether a (partly) new construction is needed. An advisory report from the projct group will be sent to the municipality in the spring of 2019. Then a decision is made about the future of the neighbourhood.The alderman has already indicated that at least two blocks, and possibly more, will be retained.

The prospects
The opinions of the various parties in the project group are far apart. The housing association is still steering for demolition and the residents do their utmost to preserve all the houses. Preservation is the wish of almost all residents and they continue to fight for that. The final decision has been postponed until mid-2019. In any case, at least two blocks will remain (which ones will be decided later). No high-rises will be permitted in the event of any (partly) new construction and for the time being, no demolition is being reported.

Stay tuned for updates.

Rietveld in Reeuwijk

An investigation into Rietveld's Reeuwijk projects 1957-1960

A study of the forgotten Reeuwijk housing project by Gerrit Rietveld, designed and built between 1957 and 1960. The so-called 'om-and-project', a housing complex that emerged from the series 'Kernhuis' projects, one of the three realized social housing projects from Gerrit Rietveld.

Year: 2017
Language: Dutch
Author:Erik Slothouber
Publisher: Stichting auteursrechten G Th Rietveld
ISBN: 978-90-8273-250-4

Buy the book via email request info@gerrit-rietveld.nl

Posted 22 November 2018