The Van Schijndel House: Room for New Views

The Van Schijndel House in Utrecht is a true signature house wherein every aspect, including most of the furniture, was designed and built by the architect Mart van Schijndel himself. The architect’s vision and key concepts of light, colour, space and furniture design make this impressive house stand out as a Gesamtkunstwerk. The architect built this extraordinary house for himself in 1992. Although he only had 175 square meters to work with, van Schijndel ‘sculpted the space’ and made it feel seemingly larger by the impressive use of light and colour. In 1999, the Van Schijndel House was listed in the Historic Buildings Register due to its special architectural value, making the house the youngest architectural monument in The Netherlands. 

Van Schijndel received the Rietveld Award 1995 because of its innovative design solutions. The jury report says: “Where a glass warehouse used to stand, in an interior courtyard shut off from the outside world, architect Mart van Schijndel has realized a virtuoso sculptural design for his own house. With this building, Van Schijndel demonstrates an extensive spatial awareness. He also experiments with technical innovations. The glass windows and doors for example, have no hinges, but swing on silicone-kit hinges. In addition to a cabinet-maker’s technically oriented passion for experimentation, the house exudes the search for an as yet unknown experience of space. Furthermore, it is remarkable, and exemplary, to see how much spatial quality he conjures up in a place that is totally enclosed.”

New book with film about the Van Schijndel House

In May, a richly illustrated book will be launched that, for the first time, thoroughly documents the experimental techniques, innovative material applications and ingenious details found in the Van Schijndel House. Together with an enclosed film which offers the architect’s own commentary, the book offers a unique insight into this inspiring house.

Mart van Schijndel (1943–1999) is one of the few architects in the Netherlands who easily managed to combine the innovative industrial production based modernism with distinctive postmodernist features. Van Schijndel harbored a keen interest in technical innovations and possessed a talent for making the most of light and space as architectural components. His own hidden house at Pieterskerkhof in Utrecht is a beautiful and spatial expression of this. The house can match lasting inspiring examples from the international architectural history of the twentieth century. Find more at:

Natascha Drabbe is an architectural historian and cultural developer. With Cultural Connections, her PR agency for architecture and design in Amsterdam, she publishes books on her own projects and those of her clients. She met Mart van Schijndel in 1992, when he was building his house, and was his partner until his death in 1999. Drabbe then became the custodian of the house and embarked on a mission to not only share her house with architecture enthusiasts, but also to create a supporting network for the caretakers of similar modern architects’ houses worldwide. She set up the Mart van Schijndel Foundation in 2008 and the Iconic Houses Network in 2012, along with the related website, a resource for travellers and lovers of 20th century domestic masterpieces. Also Villa Tugendhat is on the list of Iconic Houses:

In her lecture, Natascha Drabbe will introduce Mart van Schijndel and his house, followed by a film in which Van Schijndel tells about his design, inspirations and how his work is related to Gerrit Rietveld. After the film Drabbe’s lecture will focus on the Iconic Houses Network.

The lecture will be held on Thursday 24 April 2014 at 5 p.m. on the technical basement floor of Villa Tugendhat (a tour of the villa is not included in the lecture). The lecture will be in English and will not be interpreted.

Entrance fee is CZK 100,-; students and senior citizens CZK 50,-.

An advance booking is required for the lecture, by telephone at +420 515 511 015 / 017 
or e-mail: (limited capacity of 70 people).

A poster for the lecture can be downloaded here.