Image: Rietveld Academie in 1967, photo Ton Roelofsma
A Short History
The main building was designed by architect and furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld between 1950 and 1963 and completed in 1966. It is the largest of Gerrit Rietveld’s buildings. There was a long period of preparation between its commission and its completion, during which important developments took place in Rietveld’s way of designing. Gerrit Rietveld did not live to see the building’s completion, as he passed away while construction was still going on. The academy moved into the building in 1967. When the school became part of the higher professional education system in 1968 and was given the status of Academy for Fine Arts and Design, the name was changed to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in honour of Rietveld. Much of the building was renovated in 2004.
Conservation Management Plan
The CMP for the Gerrit Rietveld Academie's Rietveld Building has been completed and is now available online here – see below.
In 2020, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie received a Grant from the Getty Foundation as part of the "Keeping It Modern" program ("Helping professionals and communities preserve 20th-century buildings around the world") to prepare a Conservation Management Plan, or CMP for short, for its Gerrit Rietveld-designed academy building.
A Conservation Management Plan, or CMP for short, is a management plan for the conservation of a building in which the significance of the building is central.
It is the result of internal and external research conducted around the Rietveld Building, a creation of Gerrit Rietveld, built in 1966, and created as an integral collaborative project.
It is a report in Dutch; a printed edition in English is the next step. This will summarize a number of important chapters from the CMP - parts that have broader significance than just for the Rietveld Academie itself. This will have to be realized with crowdfunding. This is being worked on.
The drafting of a CMP arose from the desire to record information and knowledge about the building, to document it and make it accessible to future generations. This on the one hand for a better understanding of it, especially for its direct users, and as a tool for the management and formulation of a sustainable future vision for this special building. On the other hand, also for its broader significance for professionals dealing with the sustainability issues of similar educational buildings from this period.
The Getty Grant made it possible to involve specialists with knowledge in the field of conservation of modern architecture and sustainability in this extensive project. Several students, teachers and staff also contributed from the academy community. The CMP has been completed in early 2023.
The CMP is divided into four chapters divided into two volumes:
Volume 1. Historic Research, Building and Education.
Volume 2. Conservation and Preservation.
A foreword in the first volume was written by Simon den Hartog, who led the academy for over twenty-five years, from 1973 to 1999, and carefully safeguarded the Rietveld heritage from that position. A second foreword was written by Maaike Lauwaert, the current president of the Board of Trustees.
Volume 1. Historical Research, Building and Education
Erik Slothouber, Willemijn Zwikstra, Mariël Polman and Santje Pander - Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, Anet Scholma - Buro Mien Ruys, Martine Kuipers, Bert Taken, Frank Mandersloot, Jeroen van den Eijnde and Jorn Konijn, Elmo Vermijs, Carla Boomkens
The first part is mainly composed by experts from within the academy, lecturers and members of the staff and deals in two chapters with historical research and the relationship building and education.
The historical research, the history, the development through the years and the significance of the building, the materials and colors used, the outdoor space and the significance of the Rietveld building within architecture and for the Academy as a community.
The chapter on the relationship between building and education was compiled by users of the building from their experience with the academy space as teachers, visual artists, and students.
The relationship between the building and art education, the function for which the building was specifically designed, is placed in the broader context of academy buildings at home and abroad. It is also examined from the perspective of the academy's educational vision, the Institutional Plan 2020-2025. From different perspectives, the contributions address the housing of education that should prepare future artists and designers for a sustainable and ecologically balanced professional practice, a practice in which the physical use of materials plays an important role. Education in this building, too, will have to deal with greatly changing climatic conditions, for which it - and the campus as a whole - will have to be prepared. And educational content will also have to be sought for an appropriate approach and vision necessary for a climate-proof future for art education without compromising its content and quality. An attempt has been made to explain the significance of the building and its spatial qualities also in this sustainability and ecological restoration process from the point of view of the user group and developments in the visual arts.
Image sections and photography assignment
In addition to the research results, the first volume contains three quires with images, one with a selection of drawings by Rietveld and his office and two quires with photographs of the building by Ton Roelofsma in 1967 and Kim Zwarts in 2004.
The photographs have been applied to illustrate and substantiate the various studies but, in our opinion, also deserve attention as autonomous images and are an important source of information.
The drawings are a small selection of Rietveld's extensive archive, which is housed at the Centraal Museum and The New Institute. The drawings paint a picture of the development of the Rietveld building and the conscientious way the building was designed.
Woven throughout this first volume are the edited three-dimensional photographic scans by Romina Koopman, now an alum of the Photography Department. The brief for this CMP involved a photographic reportage of the academy building from a current student perspective. The techniques employed add a new dimension to the photographic record and portray the intensive use of the academy building in the turbulent practice of visual research.
[at the moment, this volume is only available in Dutch, but because of the imagery this is also an interesting read for non-Dutch readers. Read it below or download here the pdf of part 1]
Volume 2. Conservation and Preservation
Suzanne Fischer and Sylvian Braat, Mariël Polman and Santje Pander, Joost Salemink - ABT Ingenieursbureau, Jeroen Semeijn and Wessel de Jonge - WDJA Architects, DGMR Ingenieursbureau.
This section deals with building preservation and sustainability. When preserving the building, planning the (daily) maintenance plays an important role. A multi-year maintenance plan (MJOP) is used to plan the maintenance activities for the coming years. It is a tool for making the expected maintenance costs transparent.
In the Netherlands we are faced with the task of making existing buildings more sustainable to meet the requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement. In addition, the Rietveld Academie also has its own objective and ambition to see a sustainable organization that burdens nature as little as possible and to further limit the use and emission of harmful substances and reduce energy consumption. Since the curtain wall is of uninsulated steel with single glass and the climate systems are traditional, this is where a major challenge lies.
In addition, this section includes a building history survey, a color survey, a study of floor finishes, an analysis of the load-bearing structure, a transformation framework, and the creation of the database of available archival material.
When granting design assignments, the Rietveld Academie is committed to assigning them to students or alumni. For the graphic design of this CMP, the team chose Line Arngaard an alum of the Graphic Design department. The font selected for the font was Jungka, a design developed in collaboration between Jungmyung Lee and Karel Martens. Jungmyung Lee is a lecturer in the Graphic Design Department.
The CMP is embedded in the organization of the academy at the board level. The recommendations that emerge from this are guiding for future decision-making concerning the building as accommodation for fine art education. Based on the knowledge of the architectural-historical significance of the building, maintenance and replacement interventions will be tested against the CMP.
To ensure this, the position of an independent 'heritage guardian/custodian' has been created. This position is currently being defined and will be filled by someone from within the academy. Someone with knowledge of the functioning of the academy as an institution as well as knowledge of architecture and the ideas of Rietveld. Carla Boomkens has been invited for this purpose. She advises the Board of Governors from this position and works closely with the Facilities Department.
[at the moment, this volume is only available in Dutch, but because of the imagery this is also an interesting read for non-Dutch readers. Read it below or download here the pdf of part 2]
Part 3: Summary and recommendations (Dutch)
Volumes 3 and 4 are the summary with recommendations in Dutch and English prepared by WDJA Architects.
[scroll down for the English version, part 4]
Part 4: Summary and recommendations (English)
Download part 4 (pdf) here or read it below:
Editors CMP: Carla Boomkens, Jeroen Semeijn (WDJA), Erik Slothouber