A flash of rainbow is set to touch down in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, as MVRDV’s first project in the United States broke ground earlier today and released a swath of new renderings. The technicolor 22-story Radio Tower & Hotel will be sure to stand out for better or for worse once it’s finished, as it’s springing up in a neighborhood mainly known for blocks of low-slung, turn-of-the-century brick Renaissance Revival–style buildings. Rotterdam-based MVRDV is no stranger to stacked, staggered, and carved forms and bright splashes of color, and from the renderings, it appears that Radio Tower will keep true to that tradition. The mixed-use tower, described by MVRDV as a “vertical village,” was designed to “pull” office, residential, and hotel space off of the ground level and onto a single building. Each of the staggered volumes, about the size of a typical building in the neighborhood, has been assigned a different color and corresponding unique use. For instance, the horizontal blue box at the tower’s center will be reserved for event space. The 234,000-square-foot building is set to rise at the base of the Washington Bridge on 181st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, right where the street grid drops off into Harlem River Park. Because the site is at the edge of the Harlem River and none of the adjacent buildings come close to reaching the same height, Radio Tower should contribute significantly to Washington Heights’ skyline. MVRDV has used colored ceramic brick for the building’s facade, and the firm states that the color of each box is a reference to a typical fixture in the predominantly-Hispanic neighborhood—a design diagram cites brick, murals, supermarket and bodega canopies, and local restaurants as informing their palette. The staggered massing will also preserve views for residents and guests, as well as carve out rooftop terraces atop each of the volumes. A coffee shop and community garden in the building’s communal internal courtyard will be open to the public, as MVRDV has wanted to create both a “welcoming beacon for people entering Manhattan” as well as a community amenity. Still, it remains to be seen how the Washington Heights community will react to the announcement. A proposed rezoning of Inwood a bit further north drew furious protests from uptown residents, as has the Columbia University Medical Center’s previous expansion plans. No information on the affordability of the complex's residential portion has been revealed as of yet.
Posts tagged with "MVRDV":
MVRDV’s dual-building addition to South Korea’s Paradise City development is a lesson in abstraction. The new structures featuring windowless facades and glowing, curtain-like entry points. The Imprint is the Dutch firm’s idea for an arts and entertainment complex completely made for play. Located 32 miles from Seoul next to the Incheon Airport, Paradise City is a six-building campus with a hotel, casino, and food court on site. MVRDV’s recently completed buildings, designed in collaboration with Gansam Architects, rounds out the site’s masterplan with two new buildings housing a nightclub and an indoor amusement park. According to the design team, the client challenged them to conceive a design with no windows that also complemented the surrounding buildings. To achieve this, they mirrored the facades of the other structures and draped their outlines over the buildings like shadows. The result is an “imprint” or relief pattern, made out of glass-fiber reinforced concrete panels that were formed from individual molds. By emphasizing the window- and door-like shapes imprinted on the exterior cladding, MVRDV was able to create a texture and depth using different reveals and etched lines. While these forms are entirely real, for all intents and purposes they create a powerful illusion. One of the most surprising design elements is the splash of gold paint that overlaps from one corner of the rectangular nightclub and covers nearly one-third of its elongated facade. The architects lifted a center section of that exterior wall to reveal a curtain-like entryway for visitors to pass through once walking up the stairs to the complex. Inside is a psychedelic passage that brings fun seekers through the belly of the building onto the central plaza of Paradise City. The same scrunched entrance to the tunnel is mimicked on the opposite side of the building where it is painted in white. The indoor amusement park, a slightly curved, lower-hanging building, also features the expressive relief pattern that’s imprinted on its neighbor, but is strictly painted in a muted white color. A corner of the building is also lifted that serves as an actual entrance and boasts a chromatic and reflective hallway that leads visitors to the circus that’s inside.
Nearly 50 percent of Russians live in 50-year-old Soviet-era block housing. A full 75 percent of Russians live in cities. These two statistics, combined with a changing relationship with home ownership, means the country has a rare opportunity to rethink the way its people are living. This is exactly what some of Russia’s most forward-thinking urbanists and architects are working on right now, and this was the basis for The Living Environment: All About Housing forum. Held this past May in Kaliningrad, the furthest west city in the country, the forum brought together experts in housing, development, and economics from Russia, Europe, and the United States to discuss Russia’s unique position. The country's current situation has been evolving for nearly 70 years. A housing crisis after World War II led to the building of tens of thousands of Khrushchyovka, the typical 5-to-10-story prefabricated concrete apartment blocks which still cover Russia and most of the former Soviet republics. Built throughout the 1950s and 60s, many of these housing blocks have now fallen into severe disrepair, often never having been intended to have been lived in for half a century. While the federal government has overseen the redevelopment of city centers and public spaces throughout the country, it is now up to private developers, a profession that did not exist before 1991, to replace the aging housing stock. Kaliningrad is a particularly appropriate site for such a conversation, as even more than many other Russian cities, it was built almost completely of these now-decaying housing blocks. After being nearly completely destroyed as a German city during World War II, it was rebuilt over a few short decades as a Soviet city. It only opened to outsiders in the early 1990s because it was primarily a military hub but like many Russian cities, it is in a state of rebirth. Led by the urban think tank Strelka KB, an offshoot of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, and the urban development institution DOM.RF, the forum presented new projects and urban initiatives from across the country. The main event of the forum was a series of talks given by representatives from each of Russia’s eight federal districts, and keynote addresses from Winy Maas of MVRDV and Martin Biewenga of West 8, among others. While each of the federal district presentations highlighted the regions’ most successful projects, Maas and Biewenga presented the work their respective offices are currently doing in Russia. “There is a need for new buildings, and there is competition between developers. It is still a niche market, and some of them are doing in a brilliant way [sic]. They are making things more colorful, more differentiated, and very practical,” Maas told AN while explaining the near future of Russian urbanism. “But there is still a long way to go. Because it is not only the housing that needs to be updated. On the other hand, the urban environment needs updating. The spaces between the houses need to be turned into nice spaces.” This sentiment was echoed by Biewenga and West 8, whose current public space project was underway just minutes from the forum at Dom Sovetov Square. Situated at the base of the city's never-completed 21-story House of Soviets, the project is set to bring entertainment facilities and amenities to the barren landscape surrounding the ominous tower. The project is an example of the work being doing across the country by KB Strelka, which is working closely with the city and West 8 on the project. The Living Environment forum was also used to announce the winners of DOM.RF’s and Strelka KB’s most recent ideas competition and to launch its current one. The competition to design concepts for standardized housing and large residential developments drew many international entries, including the winners, Rome-based TA.R.I.-Architects. Its project touched on concepts about diversification and customization of form and space, two things that are the antithesis of Soviet housing blocks but were recurring themes at the forum. The current competition takes a more pointed look at apartment layouts of large housing blocks. Along with direct consultation on projects like the Dom Sovetov Square, Strelka KB hosts real and speculative competitions. One of the major roles it has been able to play is helping city officials to write better briefs for public projects. A task that involves balancing economic, social, and technical considerations, while pushing for ambitious proposals. Recently, this played out in Strelka KB’s involvement in the development of the much-lauded Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed Zaryadye Park, the first new park in 70 years in Moscow. Russia’s situation may be somewhat unique in the world, but the current dialog is very much international. Few places have been so urban for so long, and none have a history so defined by mass social housing. And now with a public that is for the first time an active player in a housing market, the possibilities seem wide open. Russia’s future is ripe for innovative ideas that may have a very real effect on how the rest of the world is living as the world catches up with Russia's urban density. Like Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, architects may soon once again be looking to Russia for its revolutionary approaches to city building.
As preparations and celebrations unfurl for the 2018 FIFA World Cup kick-off in Russia tomorrow, AN has rounded up our favorite up-and-coming projects (and new sports venues) across the country. From James Bond-esque houses and parachute-themed neighborhoods to massive new developments, Russia has provided a playground for high-profile firms to experiment with new forms. Below are some of the wildest and most ambitious projects announced or completed recently, including the venues for the games themselves: Silhouette Location: Moscow MVRDV The modular Silhouette was the result of a design competition that concluded in January of this year and will serve as a “gateway to Moscow” once completed. The 256-foot-tall, mixed-use complex contains a bit of everything—luxury apartments on the top floors and a roof terrace, offices, a sports center, and a grocery store at its base. The pixelated tower block will be clad in a red ceramic tile, and the form takes cues from abstractions of Moscow’s skyline and the constructivist Ministry of Agriculture building across the street. The extrusions and sculptural cuts at the building’s base were carefully planned to create an inviting presence at ground level. Tuschino District Residential Development Location: Moscow Steven Holl Architects and Kamen Steven Holl Architects and Kamen Architecture Art-Group have proposed a new “Parachute Hybrids” typology for their residential development in Moscow’s Tushino district. Drawing inspiration from the site’s history as a former paratrooper airfield, the vertically-oriented slabs and horizontal bases have been run through with circular cuts reminiscent of parachutes drifting through the sky. Tushino will offer residences of every type and target every income bracket, while a new kindergarten and elementary school will serve residents in the development. “Tushino can be an important urban model for 21st century high density living, shaping public open space,” said Steven Holl. “The new building type we have proposed here, inspired by the site’s history, is unique to this place.” Capital Hill Residence Location: Moscow Zaha Hadid Architects The recently completed Capital Hill Residence was the only private house designed by Hadid herself, and the towering form bears all of the late architect’s signature biomorphic curves. Rising above the tree line of the Moscow’s Barvikha Forest like an emerging submarine, the house’s prominent “mast” seemingly floats 72 feet above the landscape and provides sweeping views. The building’s base gradually tapers into the earth below and provides a private area for the homeowner to retreat to. The organic shape of the concrete and dramatic change in elevation is meant to give viewers the impression of something fast-moving and fluid. Admiral Serebryakov Embankment master plan Location: Novorossiysk Zaha Hadid Architects and Pride TPO (Moscow) ZHA will be responsible for revitalizing nearly 35 acres of coastal neighborhood along the Black Sea in Novorossiysk at Russia’s largest port. Residents can expect new opportunities for outdoor leisure activities on the Black Sea, a new port, marina, new piers, and a weaving of the new areas into the city’s existing urban. The master plan will also bring nine new buildings to the waterfront, each representing a different stage in a sequential iterative design, creating a sweeping, wave-like skyline in the process. The one million square feet of new space will be used for a hotel, civic and conference spaces, and offices. The project is moving quickly, and construction on the first phase will begin in the second half of 2019. Ekaterinburg Arena Location: Yekaterinburg PI Arena (2015-2017 renovation) Originally built in 1956 as the multi-sport Central Stadium, Ekaterinburg Arena was recently renovated in 2011. Although it was modernized, the arena’s 20,000-seat capacity meant that another round of work would be needed to bring the arena up to FIFA’s 35,000 seat minimum. Another renovation took place in 2015 that saved the building’s historic facade and increased the stadium's capacity, but temporary seating to bring the arena’s capacity up to 45,000 seats was still needed, and has been installed behind both goal areas for the four World Cup games being played there. Volgograd Arena Location: Volgograd Sport-Engineering A spiraling lattice swirls around the base of Volgograd Arena, one of the stadiums built for this year’s World Cup. The project was built on a budget, but the exposed superstructure, squat single-piece form, and colorful cable roof makes it architecturally distinct from many of the Soviet-era venues made from concrete. After the World Cup, Volgograd Arena will have its seating capacity reduced down to 35,000 and the stadium will become the new home of local football club Rotor Volgograd. Nizhny Novgorod Stadium Location: Nizhny Novgorod OAO Stroytransgaz A light and airy stadium at the fork of two rivers, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium was designed with elements of air and water in mind. The white-and-blue color palette and spacious use of columns to create open-air areas helps lend the stadium a feeling of openness. At night, the building emanates light from the top and sides through its semi-transparent facade. The stadium was commissioned for the 2018 World Cup and was completed last year. The building boasts a 45,000-seat capacity and will be handed over to football club Olimpiyets Nizhny Novgorod after the World Cup is over.
I don’t go on Facebook much these days. It’s not out of protest (my disinterest precedes their recent election debacle). I simply prefer Instagram for the short bit of scrolling and swiping I partake in daily (something about the smooth stream of vivid pixels appeals to me). I do, of course, talk to Facebook users, so when a recent debate broke out on the social media site around Mario Carpo’s Metropolis essay, provocatively titled "Post-Digital 'Quitters,'” I went to check it out. After skimming the comments, I read the article, which left me a bit troubled. There are parts of it that I agree with, such as the need for architects to consider the profound effects of technology at every turn, but on the whole Carpo’s definition of "post-digital" could not have been further from my own. As someone who writes on the topic and believes it to hold significant value for contemporary architectural discourse, I think it’s productive to offer up some clarifying thoughts. So, consider this a definition of sorts, for the record, of what "post-digital" means and why I think it’s worth discussing. Note, I don’t believe mine to be the only definition floating around out there, so I encourage others to join the debate. For me and my colleagues, however, the following holds true. The post-digital is (very) digital The most common misconception of "post-digital" is that it signifies "beyond," "anti-," or simply "not" digital. Nothing could be further from the truth. The post-digital is deeply digital; it simply recognizes our current moment to be different from previous periods of digital preoccupation. When digital design discourse began in architecture (what Carpo calls “The First Digital Turn”), functions like computer processing and network connectivity were limited to discrete objects, such as personal computers. Now they course through devices of all shapes and sizes, affecting nearly everything we do as architects—how we labor, what that yields, and how our work is disseminated, received, and by whom. Think of the post-digital like the post-apocalyptic, a cataclysmic event (the digital revolution) that conditions everything that comes after. A discursive analog might be post-feminism, where the core tenets of a discourse are debated and adapted to keep pace with the times. Architecture has a tendency to see “The Digital” as a fixed category, rather than more appropriately as an entity in flux, in need of constant interrogation and qualification. The post-digital is habitual Scholars of digital design (Carpo among them) tend to concern themselves with the few progressive pioneers who challenge architectural norms through radical experimentation with new tools. This made sense in the 1990s, when computers were rare, expensive, and few knew how to use them. But today, everybody uses computers. And the mundane activities of daily digital life (Photoshop filters, 3-D libraries, Google image searches, etc.) are arguably as important as the most technically sophisticated work with machines (AI controlled robots for example) as they affect more people. Our current digital situation is broad and cultural, perpetuated by the daily habits of ubiquitous computing. Though pervasive, habitual digitality has largely gone untheorized in architecture. If our discourse remains focused solely on exceptional cases, we will miss the profound effects that digital technology has on the vast population of "users" defining the built environment. Digital design is no longer a rarified practice of experimental vanguards, it’s a mainstream cultural practice worthy of our attention. The post-digital is everywhere As an aesthetic, the post-digital stems from the saturation of digital technology to the point where it becomes an image. Once relegated to screens, digital characteristics (pixels, gradients, filters, and the like) are quickly becoming fixtures of the physical world. Take MVRDV’s Glass Farm for example, a building covered top-to-bottom in digital imagery. Three details strike me as particularly post-digital about this project. One, the imagery comes from a digital "original" that was created by averaging data derived from farmhouses in the area (why not just use photographs of the farmhouses?). Two, the imagery is printed at one and a half times the size of a typical farmhouse (a nod to the plasticity of scale native to digital mediums). Three, the imagery is selectively removed to produce apertures in a manner reminiscent of Photoshop commands (is the fuzzy boundary the result of decreasing the "hardness" of your brush?). Glass Farm seems to say more about the naturalization of software than conventional tectonics. When software shows up in buildings, when it assumes the status of common sense or a verb (Is that Photoshopped?), architects should take notice. Current digital design discourse, with its focus on form-generation and fabrication, tells us little about projects like Glass Farm, signaling the need for new conversations concerning computation. Post-digital in sensibility, such conversations will differ from those we have known. The fervor and futuristic tenor of early digital experimentation will give way to a more measured tone, one focused less on novelty and more on the hidden aspects of computation. Post-digital design discourse calls for a critical examination of the tools and technologies we take for granted, while simultaneously connecting what we do to larger cultural shifts occurring globally. This is about more than design. Computational structures establish not only the grounds of architectural production, but increasingly life itself. Today we face an ecology of digital media that affects us aesthetically, but also socially, politically, and ontologically. Tuning architectural design and discourse to the changing contours of computation will better position us to impact our increasingly mediated world.
Dutch architects MVRDV have teamed up with Australian architecture firm Hassell to craft a scheme for Resilient by Design’s Bay Area Challenge competition that focuses on a taking a kit-of-parts approach to create an interconnected network of urban zones and landscapes that can potentially mitigate some of the effects of climate change for the city of South San Francisco. The proposal—dubbed “Connect and Collect”—envisions deploying a taxonomic set of structures developed by the firms in order to create a type of “do-it-yourself urbanism” that would supercede existing development, according to a promotional video issued with the design proposal. Taken together, the structures fulfill the basic functions of urban life at various scales, creating places to gather, receive services, live, and work, while also offering the flexibility to change in use after natural disasters. The proposal divides inhabited areas into two distinct but interwoven zones that are then populated with “collector” sites residents can make use of. So-called “shoreline collectors”—art venues, floating farms, emergency shelters, ferry terminals, and other objects—will dot the water’s edge and its surrounding tidal zones, according to the scheme. These areas are meant to connect with so-called “uphill collectors”—grocery stores, hospitals, emergency castles, car and bike-sharing facilities and the like—further inland via a set of urban-focused streets and nature-focused creeks that change as they drop to meet the water’s edge. The collectors are to be organized in grouped configurations, adjacent to regionally-scaled infrastructural elements like schools and transit. These nodes will then aggregate with one another via multi-modal connections to create a distributed network of soft-edge urban areas that not only function on a day-to-day level, but also adapt to natural disasters and periodic flooding with greater ease than existing development models. Renderings and diagrams for the proposal depict colorful groupings of the collector structures organized in porous, quasi-urban configurations with the spaces in between the collector sites populated by nature trails, bicycle paths, and transit lines. The plan proposes a slew of new public recreational areas to help create these hydrophilic zones, including a new shoreline park at Colma Creek. In a statement announcing the proposal, Nathalie de Vries, MVRDV's co-founder, said, "Climate change is real; by the end of the century there will be a sea level rise of two meters," adding, "Bay Area communities [must] respond to this challenge in a multi-disciplinary approach to upgrade their general resilience." The so-called HASSELL+ team’s proposal is among ten visions articulated for Bay Area communities being developed as part of Resilient by Design’s Bay Area Challenge. Competing groups include teams helmed by BIG, James Corner Field Operations, and Scape, among others. A recently-revealed proposal by BIG and One Architecture+Urbanism proposes a series of floating islands for the south San Francisco Bay. Other members of the HASSELL+ design team include: Deltares, Lotus Water, frog design, Originate, Civic Edge Consulting, Goudappel, and Page & Turnbull architects. The designers will continue to work through this spring and will present their final proposals in May 2018 at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.
After recently completing its eye-shaped library in Tianjin Binhai, China, Dutch design firm MVRDV is facing questions over the functionality of the shelves in its main atrium. After the building went viral for its visually stunning floor-to-ceiling shelving, patrons have reported that the books on display are either fake or printed onto the shelving itself. Commissioned by the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute as part of a master plan to create a new cultural district for the city, the Tianjin Binhai Library went from design to completion in only three years. Layers of white, terraced bookshelves in the atrium wrap around a glowing orb that anchors the library and doubles as a centrally-located auditorium. Slotting the building into an existing 393,000-square-foot master plan by German architects GMP, MVRDV rolled the required auditorium into a multi-use cavity that leads to reading rooms, lounge areas, offices, meeting rooms and computer labs. The building itself is only 6 stories tall, so every programmatic element is accessible directly from the atrium. MVRDV acknowledged that their original plans for accessing the top bookshelves through upper-level rooms had to be scrapped because of the tight construction schedule, with “perforated aluminum plates printed to represent books” filling the inaccessible spaces. However, as Yahoo reported yesterday, visitors have been met with empty shelves and dangerously uneven stairs. Most of the real books on display for the opening were only put out for a photo shoot, and have been moved to traditional reading rooms deeper in the library. The library's deputy director, Liu Xiufeng, told Yahoo, "We can only use the hall for the purposes for which it has been approved, so we cannot use it as a place to put books." The decision was made by local authorities and against MVRDV’s wishes, according to spokeswoman Zhou Shuting. Originally promising to house 1.2 million books, the library has stalled out at 200,000, although it hopes to eventually reach that goal. Still, the project’s online popularity has bolstered the number of visitors that the library receives to 15,000 every weekend. The lack of books isn’t the Tianjin Binhai Library’s only problem, and less attentive tourists have fallen victim to the irregularly shaped stairs. "People trip a lot. Last week an old lady slipped and hit her head hard. There was blood," a guard told Yahoo.
MVRDV’s stacked desires, Zaha Hadid’s latticework roofs, and other updates from the architects of Instagram
At The Architect’s Newspaper, we’re plain addicted to Instagram. Sure, we love seeing Brutalist concrete through “Inkwell” or “Ludwig” filters, but there’s also no better place to see where architects are getting their inspiration, how they’re documenting the built environment, and where they’ve traveled of late. Below, we bring you some of the best Instagrams of this past week! (Also, don’t forget to check out our Instagram account here.) Last Friday, Rotterdam-based firm MVRDV opened The Why Factory (W)ego: The Future City is Flexible, a bright new installation for Dutch Design Week 2017 in Eindhoven. According to MVRDV co-director Winy Maas, the project is "based on the hypothesis that the maximum density could be equal to the maximum of desires." https://www.instagram.com/p/BaguLgZBAbV/?taken-by=mvrdv AN contributor and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman shared an alarmingly value-engineered facade in the UK. Beneath the fake brick, a hollow duct–a compelling metaphor for our current newscape. In the comments, there is a bit of hope: Furman and friends list British architects who would never do such a thing, like Sergison Bates, FAT Architects, Outram, or Caruso St. John. https://www.instagram.com/p/Baqmp7ag80u/ Bloomberg is getting a new $1.3 billion, Foster+Partners-designed headquarters in London. The bronze fin-covered building boasts artwork and installations by Cristina Iglesias, Michael Craig-Martin, Olafur Eliasson, and Langlands & Bell. Eliasson's No future is possible without a past crowns a central room within the building, resembling the silvery surface of a pond inverted onto the ceiling. https://www.instagram.com/p/Ban9Gxvnt8u/?taken-by=studioolafureliasson Zaha Hadid Architects completed the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC) in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. The 70,000-square-foot, five-building complex includes an auditorium, library, exhibit hall, and a prayer room sheathed in white latticework (pictured below). https://www.instagram.com/p/Barov2bFJr6/?taken-by=zahahadidarchitects
Resilient by Design | Bay Area has chosen 10 multi-disciplinary teams to partake in the next phase of a design challenge focused on future-proofing California’s San Francisco Bay Area against the destructive effects of climate change and sea level rise. The 10 teams will partner with community members and organizations over the next nine months to develop innovative approaches for the region. The teams include several notable architecture and landscape architecture firms, including BIG, MVRDV, and James Corner Field Operations. Each of the selected teams contains at least one community member and several of the teams are entirely Bay Area–based. Resilient by Design is modeled on Rebuild by Design, a federally-funded New York City re-visioning competition held after 2012's Hurricane Sandy. The 10 selected design teams include:
BIG + ONE + SHERWOOD Bionic Team Common Ground HASSELL+ Permaculture + Social Equity Public Sediment The All Bay Collective The Field Operations Team The Home Team Team UPLIFTThe teams were each awarded $250,000 to engage in research over the next three months and to work with community members to analyze chosen sites with the eventual goal of crafting an adaptation strategy for a specific project location by May. “Resilient by Design is creating a blueprint for the world, bring together community members and experts to show how we can collectively tackle climate change,” Amanda Brown-Stevens, managing director of Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge, told The Architect’s Newspaper. “We know that it is time for something different, a new approach that matches our new reality but draws on who we are and what we have always been able to do: think differently, innovate, come together, and adapt.” Formal announcements for team and site pairings will be timed to coincide with California Governor Jerry Brown’s scheduled Global Climate Action Summit in December. The most recent announcement comes after the Bay Area Challenge was awarded a $4.6 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation earlier this year.
Currently on display at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale is MVRDV’s Infinity Kitchen. The invisibility of the design allows a seamless connection between the food product and its place in the kitchen. From the cabinet to the trash receptacles to the sink, almost everything comprising the Infinity Kitchen is clear. The only exceptions are the dishwasher and certain cutlery which Winy Maas, co-founder and Director of MVRDV, hopes to one day convert to transparency as well. The design explores the opportunity for a closer relationship with our food. In the Youtube video below, Winy Maas said: “If we imagine everything is transparent clear and clean, doesn’t it mean that the only thing that is colorful and visible is our food? Doesn’t it then imply that we are encouraged to love the food, in that way, and that maybe it even becomes more healthy, if not sexy?” This concept of transparency is appears in other MVRDV projects, notably Crystal Houses, a Chanel boutique in Amsterdam. In the facade of the building, glass has been substituted for traditional bricks. Additionally, on June 1, an office in Hong Kong will open designed by MRVDV to have glass interiors, furniture, and equipment.
MVRDV's Crystal Houses project, seen here, just opened on Amsterdam's upmarket shopping street, PC Hooftstraat. The Dutch firm from Delft employed a gradient that mixes terra-cotta and glass brick for the building's ornate facade. The tenant is Chanel and this is this is their flagship store in the city. The glass bricks, which form window frames and architraves, "evoke the vernacular of the area with the goal to maintain the character of the site," said the firm. Designed for investor Warenar, the building will occupy 90,420 square feet, of which 6,670 square feet will be used for retail. The rest will go towards housing. Emulating the original elevation, the glass facade rises up from the ground eventually dissolving into the terra-cotta brick used above. Due to updated zoning laws in Amsterdam, the building had to facilitate for more interior space and could increase in height. This allowed the facade to be stretched, leading to this unique treatment. As a result, the real brick structure appears to float above the street, with bricks being suspended as they crumble down. As for the actual bricks, terra-cotta brick was employed to comply with Amsterdam's regulations on building aesthetics. MVRDV argue that their design maintains the vernacular character of the site while responding to the contemporary demands of window space that modern high-end retails stores require. "The increased globalization of retail has led to the homogenization of high-end shopping streets" the firm said, adding that they hope their store to "stand out amongst the rest." The facade perhaps is a good example of how regulations on aesthetics can both preserve historic and cultural town character as well as breed creativity. The end effect is a building that is allowed to stand out but crucially not tastelessly outdo any of its counterparts. The glass bricks themselves are individually crafted by Poesia, a glass brick foundry in Resana, near Venice. Together, they are UV bonded with a transparent glue from German firm Delo Industrial Adhesives. The first facade of its kind, construction required up to ten experts working daily, year-round. MVRDV say that site during this process ended up looking more like a laboratory than a place for bricklaying. The time effort, though it must be said, appears to be worth it. As for doubters of the bricks' strength, MVRDV claim that "strength tests by the Delft University of Technology team proved that the glass-construction was in many ways stronger than concrete. The full-glass architrave, for instance, could withstand a force of up to 42.000 Newton; the equivalent to two full-sized SUVs." (Fun fact: The reason we see so many thin buildings in Amsterdam is due to a 17th-century taxation law that meant buildings were taxed on the width of their frontage.)
The Part-Dieu shopping center in Lyon, France, will be renovated by Dutch firm MVRDV as part of a wider scheme that will give the whole area a much needed face lift. Using what appears to be fractal aesthetic, parts of the facade appear to dissolve, revealing space within. The mixed-use development will house commercial and leisure facilities and supply a generous offering of public space including a roof garden. Such is the nature of the facade that the building becomes increasingly legible at street level, with the fragmented facade almost falling away, creating viewports and allowing people to see inside. This repetitive facade pattern is employed throughout the whole scheme unifying each individual program. Views from inside are also given significant attention, with the metallic tower of Fourvière and Lyons Basilica Notre Dame being awarded framed views. In the process of redesigning the area, MVRDV added 344,500 square feet of new space while installing a general hierarchy to the site, with lower levels being primarily for retail and upper levels for recreation. By moving the pre-existing car park, MVRDV was allowed to include green spaces and terracing while organising the site so that nearby transport could provide easy-access links to and from the area. By allowing public life to manifest within the vicinity, the scheme can easily coalesce with urban life in the general area. This aspect is amplified by the fact that the street and a railway are allowed to cut through the building as well as over other parts of the scheme via escalators and elevated walkways. "The terraces turn the vast roofs of the shopping centre into open, green space in which the public can meet and relax; a quality that is currently missing in this area," said Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV, in a statement. "By rearranging the programme, we create an urban platform that is somewhere between tranquil park and vibrant market square, recreating an atmosphere inspired by the Lyon river side." "The redevelopment of the Part-Dieu commercial center is an opening act towards the city” continued Maas, "The formerly enclosed and defensive block is peeled open and thus becomes a place for the public to inhabit. It becomes part of the city."