Rietveld & Curacao: A Modern Architect On A Caribbean Island
di Jan De Heer
Between 1949 and 1960 Gerrit Rietveld made six designs for buildings and interiors on the island of Curaçao. In each case Chris Engels was involved, either as the client or as a consultant. Aside from his medical practice, Engels was a poet and a painter. A firm friendship would grow between the two men. In Rietveld & Curaçao, Jan de Heer describes and analyses these designs and places them within the island’s cultural political development. He also sheds light on the remarkable relationship between Rietveld and Engels. Rietveld managed to incorporate the climatic conditions of Curaçao in his designs to great effect. He turned the trade winds to his advantage in the Verriet Institute, the Richardus House and the design of Engels’s own residence, introduced adjustable shutters instead of fixed walls and used large roof overhangs to keep out the direct glare of the sun. In the Verriet Institute he turned the roof into one large gutter to catch the precious rainwater. It is for these reasons that Rietveld’s designs have remained an inspirational example for Curaçaoan architectural practice to this day.