2009

How to Live?

Text contribution

How to Live?

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— Written for "Art as Urban Strategy.
Beyond Leidsche Rijn".
Book design by Felix Janssens/TCHM

 

The central assignment in the competition inviting designs for a ‘VIP home for Leidsche Rijn’ left nothing to the imagination: design a landmark for Leidsche Rijn, ‘a house that gives the site a certain weight, a house with some special significance, or a house for an unusual person.' An example that comes to mind is the Rietveld-Schröder House in Utrecht, which has been designated a UNESCO monument because its inhabitant gave Rietveld the opportunity to make this house into a radical statement about housing and living together...

 

For the entire text, please download the Pdf below


— See also

2006 Transformation House I & II
2005 Twee Projecties/Two Projections

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How to Live? (pdf)
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— Although the Rietveld-Schröder House is an excellent example of the combination of ideals, architecture and personal circumstances, the analogy with a future architectural place of pilgrimage on the outskirts of Utrecht is flawed in several respects. But that did not stop me from revisiting the Rietveld-Schröder House for the first time in many years and listening to what the guide had to say. The guide, who was not entirely coincidentally my own father, turned out to have just decided to stop showing visitors round the house (...)

— The text also included a letter from me to Gerrit Rietveld, explaining that my father had given up his job as guide in the Rietveld-Schröder House because he had become thoroughly tired of telling the same story again and again in a historical peepshow that had so clearly been designed for people to live and work to the full. Now converted into a museum, the house has become a setting in which ostensibly formal aspects have to be reanimated with anecdotes.
When the tangible results of living ideals are accorded the status of UNESCO monuments, something must surely have gone wrong somewhere. My first premise was that I wanted to develop an idea that would never achieve a definitive state, because the house’s shape would always be related to a moment in the user’s life. The House had to be based on a principle of mutability.