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Gerrit Rietveld Inspired Winter Park

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The basis for this project was to design an architectural structure to be placed on a bare piece of land on the Wibautstraat. The piece of land is unique, not only because of its shape, but also because of its proximity to the metro lines, because it includes a hill, and because it is flanked by two bridges, one a major highway to and from the city. The project was to take all of these elements and create a scale model for something that could be placed on this plot. In my case, inspiration came from two different sources. As part of the project, we were required to choose one or two of the buildings designed by Gerrit Rietveld. The second part of my inspiration was to give the structure purpose and thus give me a better idea of the shape it should take.

When we started this project, I immediately thought of a park, due to what is already there: grass, trees and such. However, Amsterdam already has many and lovely outdoor parks and another one is perhaps not necessary. However, there is still no winter park here, nor in most cities, I think. So my plan became to create a sort of building that would function as a winter park, with protection from the elements, but also giving as much of an impression as possible of being outside. The most obvious reference for such a project is the old palaces and winter gardens in London in the 1800s. The other great aspect of those winter and pleasure gardens was that they were really places to meet and to be seen, another aspect I wanted to incorporate. Some of the larger issues with this situation – that the space is not so large, and also that there is so much happening around the surrounding area – would make it difficult to create any sort of intimacy within.

For my Rietveld inspirations, I choose two buildings. The first one I choose was Huis Van Slobbe (1964). I decided to use this house for two reasons: firstly, its proximity to the surrounding “wilderness,” that is too say, it has a very large garden and is situated in a way that empathizes those surroundings. The second reason for choosing this house was its protruding balconies, which

I found very appealing.

The second Rietveld inspiration was De Kunstnijverheidsschoolen. The primary reason for choosing this house was its construction material, mostly large sheets of glass and concrete. Obviously, the easiest way to create a relation to the outdoors is to use glass, as Rietveld did with many of his buildings.

The model I have made is of a structure entirely made of very large sheets of glass, the supporting structure is not illustrated, for although there would have to be one, it should be seen as little as possible. The glass also plays with the eyes a bit, as seen in the model, it is difficult to see the contours and shape completely, this would also be my hope for a full scale building, one that blends and merges with its surroundings, rather than covering them. The entrance is a grand staircase also made entirely made of glass that comes up and over the metro lines.

The rationale for this form is twofold: first, to have the effect of walking over and seeing the trains as they pass by, and second, to help with the degree of intimacy inside the park. Entering from a quieter street, as the Wibautstraat is a major street and the far street is not. The structure is divided into multiple layers to create as much space as possible on the given plot, the size of the individual components varies, the smaller ones being cozier and more intimate. Once off the grand staircase, one enters into a sort of grand hall, to “make an entrance,” again reminiscent of the English pleasure gardens and this idea of wanting to be seen. Throughout the structure, there is a play with inside/outside, not only because of the glass, but also because of the number of large open balconies and that each of the ruff tops also serves as a balcony. So although designed as a winter park, it is also a comfortable place in the other seasons.

The model itself is 1cm/5m – so quite small, but clear enough to illustrate what it is. If the project were to be continued, there would be many more details to work out, such as a heating system, how people would move from one layer to another, a system that meant it could be open 24 hours a day to the public but still be safe and so forth. However as a first sort of sketch, this is what I propose for the Wibautstraat.

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