Architecture by Gerrit Rietveld



After a major restoration, the Gerrit Rietveld Pavilion in the sculpture garden of the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands is accessible to the public again.

Gerrit Rietveld (1884-1964) designed the pavilion for the display of small sculptures at the Third International Sculpture Exhibition in Arnhem’s Sonsbeek Park in 1955. This ‘Sonsbeek Pavilion’ was intended as a temporary structure, and it was dismantled when the exhibition was over. On the initiative of several Dutch architects, the building found a permanent home in the Kröller-Müller Museum’s sculpture garden, under a new name: the ‘Rietveld Pavilion’.

From the very outset, the maintenance of the Rietveld Pavilion was a constant source of concern. Every conceivable method was considered and tried, from conservation and restoration to copying and replacing parts of the building, but it eventually became clear that the structure was beyond saving.
The 1965 pavilion has now been disassembled. Today, in 2010, the museum has rebuild the structure with new materials, while adhering as closely as possible to Gerrit Rietveld’s original design. Wherever possible, parts of the 1965 pavilion that were still in adequate condition have been reused. Construction work began in January 2010 and finished in September of this year. The new, third version of the pavilion now stands in the museum’s sculpture garden, preserving Rietveld’s world-famous design for the future. The pavilion is the property of the Government Buildings Agency (GBA) of the State of the Netherlands, which, as its owner, is responsible for its maintenance. The GBA was also overseeing the restoration project on behalf of the Kröller-Müller Museum.

To coincide with the opening of the reconstructed pavilion, a small presentation is on display in the museum’s old wing, with archive material on the pavilion and several pieces of furniture made by Rietveld from the museum’s collection. The current State Architect Liesbeth van der Pol B Sc commissioned a documentary to be made on the realization of this version of the Rietveld Pavilion. This documentary by Pieter Kiewiet de Jonge, entitled ‘According to Rietveld - the reconstruction of the Rietveld Pavilion’, is ca. 40 minutes long and is also showing in the museum.

NB: the exhibition Rietvelds Universum is on display from 21 October 2010 in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.








Images taken by Hans Jan Dürr from durr-architect and Marjon Gemmeke.

Pictured is the Gerrit Rietveld Pavillion Sonsbeek Arnhem, Netherlands, designed by Gerrit Rietveld in 1955, reconstructed in 1965 in Otterlo Netherlands.

This modernist open structure was designed in 1955 for Sonsbeek Park in Arnheim for the exhibition of small sculptures. In 1965 it was rebuilt in the sculpture garden of the Kröller-Müller Museum on a site Rietveld himself selected. This building has the simplicity and geometric qualities characteristic of De Stijl architecture. Around a central space (12 by 12 meters) Rietveld arranged three corridor-like open galleries. The materials of the construction are clearly evident: concrete block brick, glass, and metal beams. Not only is the transition easy within the structure, but the open structure suggests a relationship between nature and the built environment.

Kröller-Müller Museum