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  1. ArchDaily
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  3. Why Are Architects So Obsessed With Piet Mondrian?

Why Are Architects So Obsessed With Piet Mondrian?

Why Are Architects So Obsessed With Piet Mondrian?

In the 1920s, Dutch-born artist Piet Mondrian began painting his iconic black grids populated with shifting planes of primary colors. By moving beyond references to the world around him, his simplified language of lines and rectangles known as Neo Plasticism explored the dynamics of movement through color and form alone. Though his red, yellow and blue color-blocked canvases were important elements of the De Stijl movement in the early 1900s, almost a century later Mondrian’s abstractions still inspire architects across the globe.

But, what is it about these spatial explorations that have captivated artists and designers for so long?

© <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/ikkoskinen/4292086359/in/photostream/'>Flickr user IK’s World Trip</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>
© Flickr user IK’s World Trip licensed under CC BY 2.0

Arguably the first instance of the architectural adoption of Mondrian’s explorations came in the form of a modest two-story home—architect Gerrit Rietveld’s first building—for the recently widowed Truus Schröder and her three children in Utrecht, Netherlands. Constructed between 1923 and 1924 the Schröder House saw the painter’s vivid planes and grids transformed into metal strips, expanses of wood, and lengths of tubular steel painted red, blue and yellow that frame the shifting planes of the roof, windows, and walls. The home’s inner walls were freed of their structural responsibility allowing the internal space to function as a flexible composition of floating planes.

© <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/dalbera/28797718610'>Flickr user Jean-Pierre Dalbéra</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>
© Flickr user Jean-Pierre Dalbéra licensed under CC BY 2.0

In 1926, painter and architect Theo van Doesburg—a contemporary of both Mondrian and Rietveld—was commissioned to design the Café L’Aubette. He conceived the interior renovations as an inhabitable De Stijl Painting—grids tilted at 45 degrees envelop the walls and ceiling of the “Ciné-Dancing” hall with vibrant hues of red, yellow, blue, and green occupying the irregular spaces between. Only two years later, Mies van der Rohe would seemingly transform Mondrian’s 1917 Composition in Colour A into the broad expanses of glass, marble, travertine, and steel defining the Barcelona Pavilion.

Architectural interest in Mondrian’s work would wane in the years leading up to the second World War until post-war consumerism drove the development of George Nelson’s primary color-blocked StorageWall of 1945—bringing the artist’s work to the scale of home storage—while the vibrant aluminium panels in Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé and Sonia Delaunay’s Bookcase linked Neo Plasticism with domestic display.

© <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/laurenmanning/8008065034'>Flickr user Lauren Manning</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>
© Flickr user Lauren Manning licensed under CC BY 2.0

With the inauguration of Arts & Architecture’s Case Study House Program, design duo Charles and Ray Eames modified the artist’s black grids into prefabricated steel frames for the bold cladding wrapping the two volumes of their 1949 Case Study House #8. In designing a prototypical, prefabricated structure in response to the housing boom, Mondrian’s abstracted planes and grids naturally complimented industrial production and war-born techniques to bring domestic architecture to the masses. Similar bold primary colors accented the balconies of Le Corbusier’s brutalist utopia Unite d’Habitiation in 1952 and would eventually appear on the Pavilion Le Corbusier as color-blocked enamel paneling. Even fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent adapted Mondrian's graphic grid into a sack dress in 1965.

via City of Hague
via City of Hague

Mondrian’s lasting influence on architecture is still present today—from the Mondrian Hotel in LA and the Mondrian Residences in Muntinlupa, Philippines to the cladding of Richard Meier’s 1955 City Hall of the Hague Netherlands, which was repainted in early 2017 to celebrate De Stijl's centennial.

Whether employed alongside new manufacturing techniques or structural capacities, the language of Mondrian’s abstraction has fascinated architects in their exploration of new spatial types. The artist’s vision for the plasticity of the built world allowed him to interrogate the reductive idea of architecture as mass, instead considering it as a dynamic framework connected to the essential shapes and rhythms of human life.

See more interpretations of Mondrian’s work below.

La maison du parc 93500 Bobigny #mondrian #bauhaus #brutalism

172 Likes, 9 Comments - Ro © (@romainbourven) on Instagram: "La maison du parc 93500 Bobigny #mondrian #bauhaus #brutalism"

#mondrian

15 Likes, 2 Comments - Amy Snow (@viveutvitas) on Instagram: "#mondrian"

finally saw this irl last night❤️

76 Likes, 3 Comments - S▲LEM (@salemm___) on Instagram: "finally saw this irl last night❤️"

Jmenuje se to "Mondrian nemá prachy na nový plátno." Začal jsem malovat, musel jsem zešílet. #selžeš #mondrian #artmaybe #redwhore #czechbitch #zlo #dejinyumeni

8 Likes, 1 Comments - Venca Zlø (@vencazlo) on Instagram: "Jmenuje se to "Mondrian nemá prachy na nový plátno." Začal jsem malovat, musel jsem zešílet...."

Piet's house. #picoftheday, #oneaday, #mondrian, #popart, #modern, #squares, #rectangles, #pietmondrian, #imitation, #flattery, #seattle, #washington, #pnw

48 Likes, 1 Comments - Chico Santana (@chicosantana206) on Instagram: "Piet's house. #picoftheday, #oneaday, #mondrian, #popart, #modern, #squares, #rectangles,..."

#mondrian #brentwood #art #la #canvasartapp @kedcampbell

34 Likes, 4 Comments - Matt Melton (@mattymeltz) on Instagram: "#mondrian #brentwood #art #la #canvasartapp @kedcampbell"

#mondrian #brescia

52 Likes, 1 Comments - Flavia Buiarelli (@flauta38) on Instagram: "#mondrian #brescia"

How amazing is this Mondrian-inspired house boat? Came across it in Amsterdam, this should brighten up this freezing cold day. . . . #amsterdam #mondrian #destijl #houseboat #architecture #urbanism #mondriaan

57 Likes, 6 Comments - Pauline den Hartog Jager (@pdhj) on Instagram: "How amazing is this Mondrian-inspired house boat? Came across it in Amsterdam, this should brighten..."

Accostamento nuovo/vecchio. Edificio in via Cesare De Lollis, Roma (quartiere San Lorenzo). Per la serie #Mondrian regna a #sanlollo.

12 Likes, 1 Comments - M a r i l e n a L e t o (@_marileta) on Instagram: "Accostamento nuovo/vecchio. Edificio in via Cesare De Lollis, Roma (quartiere San Lorenzo). Per la..."

사각사각 . . . #몬드리안 #집 #빌링엔슈벤닝엔 #독일 #mondrian #house #germany #haus #villingenschwenningen #deutschland

29 Likes, 1 Comments - 안해원 (@softsunny214) on Instagram: "사각사각 . . . #몬드리안 #집 #빌링엔슈벤닝엔 #독일 #mondrian #house #germany #haus #villingenschwenningen #deutschland"

#mondrian #bari #cityphotography #architecture #colors

54 Likes, 2 Comments - @amrenna on Instagram: "#mondrian #bari #cityphotography #architecture #colors"

Love this Mondrian style bar. #mondrian #picoftheday #l4like #l4l #likeforlike #f4f #f4follow #holidays #capetown #streets

45 Likes, 1 Comments - Joseph Dubruque (@jodubruque) on Instagram: "Love this Mondrian style bar. #mondrian #picoftheday #l4like #l4l #likeforlike #f4f #f4follow..."

Dudziarska II, from ongoing documentary project on how the post-transformation Poland manifests itself in architecture and urbanism. The temporary social housing designed as a short-term harbour for people kicked out of council tenancy or other projects was built in the middle of nowhere, and in a manner that intentionally was considered as a motivating factor to get out of there as fast as possible. Instead, without much surprise, the Dudziarska blocks turned into a ghetto dubbed the worst address in Warsaw. In 2010, as a part of art intervention, blocks were painted with Malevich's Black Square and Mondrian compositions, and during Warszawa w Budowie festival there was a special bus trip to the district to show it off. This action was generally perceived by the inhabitants as a safari-like. In 2017, the city authorities admitted the absolute failure of the Dudziarska project, and announced a gradual abandonment of the estate and its demolition or change of character. / #documentary #warsaw #dudziarska #warszawa #grochow #pragapoludnie #architecture #social #projects #newtopographics #mondrian #staybrokeshootfilm

390 Likes, 5 Comments - paweł starzec (@pestarzec) on Instagram: "Dudziarska II, from ongoing documentary project on how the post-transformation Poland manifests..."

#nonplace #underground #urban #photography #digitalphotography #contemporary #contemporaryphotography #yellow #blue #red #trainstation #minimalism #minimal #architecture #hamburg #mondrian #fubiz #minimalmag #fisheyelemag #fotografiska #myfeatureshoot #thisaintartschool #noicemag

145 Likes, 2 Comments - Ali Sahba (@dsahba) on Instagram: "#nonplace #underground #urban #photography #digitalphotography #contemporary..."

#detskykutik #mondrian

35 Likes, 5 Comments - @misovesely on Instagram: "#detskykutik #mondrian"

#mondrian #durrës #durres #albania #cityscape #citybreak #architecture

33 Likes, 3 Comments - Isídōra (@seltenabermanchmal) on Instagram: "#mondrian #durrës #durres #albania #cityscape #citybreak #architecture"

#citylife #citystreets #lorient #igersbretagne #morbihan #mondrianbuilding #mondrian #architecture #architecturelovers #architecturephotography

36 Likes, 1 Comments - Cath Foch (@cath.in_lorient) on Instagram: "#citylife #citystreets #lorient #igersbretagne #morbihan #mondrianbuilding #mondrian #architecture..."

How Mondrian Inspired #Architecture Around the World - #Arts http://ow.ly/558430ispjs #Mondrian #Grugliasco #Austin #Texas

6 Likes, 1 Comments - Juan Ramon Rodulfo Moya (@rodulfox) on Instagram: "How Mondrian Inspired #Architecture Around the World - #Arts http://ow.ly/558430ispjs #Mondrian..."

The retro-future of Auckland housing? The Paora apartments, Coates avenue. . #modernistarchitecture #mondrian #apartmentliving #housingcrisis #findinghome

82 Likes, 1 Comments - Angus McNaughton (@angus_mcnaughton) on Instagram: "The retro-future of Auckland housing? The Paora apartments, Coates avenue. . #modernistarchitecture..."

#capetownwithlove ❤️ #mondrian

83 Likes, 1 Comments - Flore Silberfeld (@floresilberfeld) on Instagram: "#capetownwithlove ❤️ #mondrian"

Still several sleeps away till the Hong Kong Art Basel, but really excited to be organising my itenerary while I'm there and exploring all the incredible architecture including this #Mondrian inspired building in Wan Chai. ▻  @iamdimitra ▻ #artist #melbourneartist #melbourneart #hongkong #hkartbasel #hongkongart #hongkongarchitecture #artinspired #travellingartist #artfair #hk #wanchai #nikosopelarioart

110 Likes, 4 Comments - Niko Sopelario (@nikosopelarioart) on Instagram: "Still several sleeps away till the Hong Kong Art Basel, but really excited to be organising my..."

About this author
Evan Pavka
Author
Cite: Evan Pavka. "Why Are Architects So Obsessed With Piet Mondrian?" 01 Apr 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/891083/why-are-architects-so-obsessed-with-piet-mondrian/> ISSN 0719-8884
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© <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/105105658@N03/32869400281/'>Flickr user Rob Oo</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>

为什么建筑师们如此痴迷于彼埃•蒙德里安?