Dutch firm MVRDV is creating a new office building in Hong Kong, and by the looks of the renderings, people will be really happy to work there. The project actually entails the transformation of the Cheung Fai Warehouse, a 14-story industrial building that currently sits on a busy corner in the city's designated business area of East Kowloon. MVRDV will be stripping the structure to its concrete infrastructural core before filling the frame with glass and stainless steel in order to define the new office spaces. Glass dominates the exterior as well, as large sheets are inserted into the white concrete frame of the structure. The largely clear facade is punctuated by small explosions of greenery, which spills out of select rectangular sections. The rooftop has been set aside for a terrace meant to serve as a communal gathering space. The glass spills over into the interior, bringing with it large amounts of light and also meaning that the building's concrete skeleton is readily visible throughout the offices and circulation areas. The Cheung Fai building is MVRDV's first foray into Hong Kong. In addition to 37 office units, the structure is also slated to house retail space and restaurants. At its rear the site faces a disused service alley that the firm hopes to one day convert into usable public space in keeping with the development of the surrounding area. The transformation is scheduled to be completed by 2015.
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Dutch firm MVRDV has won a competition to design a new public/private art depot for the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. While the design has been selected, the fate of the project remains in the balance. City council officials have until the end of the year to decide whether or not to go ahead with construction. The winning design (top) resembles a large shiny flowerpot, a cylindrical glass volume that tapers at the bottom and is capped by a sculpture-park. The curved facade's distortion of the surrounding landscape recalls the way Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate engages its own Chicago context. The need for the project stems from problems with the museum's current depot, which is situated below sea-level and thus at risk of flooding. Beyond elevating the stored artworks to safety, the new design is also an opportunity to make some of them available for public view. A route will zig-zag through the various floors to offer glimpses of the depot for those visiting the space. The path culminates in the rooftop park which also would feature a restaurant. MVRDV beat out other finalists MAD/Nio, Neutelings Riedijk, Koen van Velzen and Harry Gugger with Barcode Architects, though not without controversy. At one point the firm was disqualified due to what was deemed a breach of the tender procedure. They were later reinstated after winning their case in the court of justice of Rotterdam.
Dutch architecture office MVRDV has placed a bid to create a 1,300-foot-tall skyscraper in Jakarta, Indonesia called Peruri 88. The complex arrangement of edifices, which resembles a city's worth of buildings stacked atop one another along the lines of a massive assembly of life-size “building” blocks covered with greenery, is MVRDV's answer to Jakarta’s need for densification and green space. The somewhat literal rendition of an 88-story “vertical city” will comprise 3.87 million square feet with an extensive list of offerings including retail, housing, office space, a luxury hotel, four levels of parking, a mosque, a wedding hall, an Imax theater, an outdoor amphitheater, semi-public roof parks, and an abundance of gardens. The commercial podium of the structure alone will house reflective pools of water and a sunken garden plaza among its restaurants and shops. Overall, Perruri 88 has truly compounded a enormous city onto one site. “Peruri 88 is vertical Jakarta," MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas said in a statement. "It represents a new, denser, social, green mini-city, a monument to the development of Jakarta as a modern icon literally raised from its own city fabric.” This green-mix use project was presented to site owner Peruri as a competition bid to assist in Jakarta’s urban growth and, if chosen, construction would begin immediately at the the desired location of Jl. Palatehan 4 Jakarta. MVRDV worked with American firm Jerde and engineering firm ARUP on the proposal.
A fantastical sounding urban garden paradise imagined by Rotterdam-based MVRDV and made up of jasmine hotels, lily pond swimming pools, offices decked with planted interiors and bamboo parks, and an alphabetized plant library will be brought to reality over the next ten years in the city of Almere, Netherlands. Today, the Nederlandse Tuinbouwraad (NTR) chose MVRDV's plan for Almere as the winner of the esteemed Floriade 2022 World Horticulture Expo, which takes place only once every ten years. The blanket of new city fabric draped over a 111-acre peninsula will transform it into a permanent green extension directly opposite Almere’s existing city center. The venture will develop the waterfront site into a green urban neighborhood and a vast grid of gardens forming a living plant library where each block is dedicated to different, diverse plantings. A new university will be organized as a stacked botanical garden and vertical eco-system where every classroom will have a distinctive climate appropriate to the various plants. MVRDV aims for the expo to demonstrate how plants can provide for and enhance all aspects of daily life. In doing so, the city hopes to boost its image as a self-sustainable and ecological center with the ability to generate its own food and energy, clean its own water, and to recycle its own waste. The peninsula will also accommodate a new panorama tower, hotel, marina, open-air theatre, camping facilities, and nearly 236,800 square-feet of green housing.
As East Asian cities continue to modernize and densify, monotonous and dehumanizing blocks tend to replace the finely-grained, small-scale architecture and urbanism such as Beijing’s Hutong, Tokyo’s small wooden houses, and Singapore’s traditional villages. These “urban ecologies that have evolved over the course of centuries,” as Dutch firm MVRDV explains, foster a social interconnectivity in these communities, forming the basis for a new exhibition currently on view in Seoul, South Korea. MVRDV presents their research on rapid urban transformation in East Asia in Welcome to the Vertical Village at Seoul's Total Museum of Contemporary Art presented through rich audio-visual displays and vibrantly-colored installations of an imagined Vertical Village of more than 700 individual pieces, a solution in opposition to monolithic development while embracing the density it provides. The exhibition describes an alternative model of development that embraces the qualities of dense three-dimensional communities while preserving the diversity, flexibility, and personal freedom present in traditional East Asian villages. The exhibition runs through October 7, 2012.
Guy Horton, a frequent contributor to AN, here adds his thoughts on the still-steaming controversy over MVRDV's twin towers. MVRDV’s design for what they call The Cloud, a twin high-rise with a connecting “cloud” above the waistline, has resulted in an blitz of negative criticism. Americans who have never heard of the Dutch firm are now phoning and emailing threats and condemnation non-stop—some are personal threats aimed at individuals. They have even been called “Al Qaeda lovers.” From the American point of view, a highly emotional response was probably predictable. How dare they, right after the tenth anniversary of 9/11, right when One World Trade Center (formerly Freedom Tower) is set to reach it’s symbolic 1776-foot mark, at last filling the long-vacant airspace of lower Manhattan? How could these…these…Dutchmen re-animate this trauma buried in the American psyche? Well…the point is that they aren’t re-animating anything. And while the memorial at Ground Zero is buried, the trauma is not. It’s frightening and revealing how close to the surface it is when a single image can spark it. They didn’t do it on purpose. They are just architects, after all, and architects sometimes forget to reflect on their designs in terms of, say, the War on Terror, or on events that transpired ten years ago in a foreign country—our country being foreign to them. In sum, not everything everywhere revolves around what happened on 9/11. It’s not always about us. Furthermore, we don’t require MVRDV for reminders of 9/11. The casualties from two wars, a devastated economy, polarized politics, torture, NDAA, militarized police forces in our cities, the Patriot Act, TSA strip-searches, the fact that if you appear to be of Middle-Eastern decent you are assumed to be a terrorist—the list of everyday reminders expands seemingly like the design of the cloud itself, block by block, forming a storm front around us. A building designed by Dutch architects for South Koreans is hardly relevant when compared to the very real impact 9/11 has had on our democracy and, by extension, our built environment. So, let us leave the Dutch architects alone. They were just being MVRDV, international starchitects, playing with logic as they often do. The Cloud is merely an extension of their obsession with fractal repetition…the potential of monotony to produce something non-monotonous. But this, too, is subjective—just like ghost sightings of 9/11 in an architectural rendering. They have said they are sorry, but the developer has not announced officially whether there are plans to change the early concept design. Nor should they be forced to change it. In a recent blog entry, Aaron Betsky says that because the design is now out there, it has become a poisoned meme signifying all those bad memories and therefore fails as a building. “Back to the drawing board, MVRDV,” he concludes. So, while we can acknowledge that The Cloud is a meme of one sort to Americans, it is also obviously a different sort of meme to others. What is far more troubling is the reaction to the concept design. It demonstrates that we are still a long way from recovery and while the wars are winding down we are still at war with ourselves. MVRDV is inadvertently giving us a small opportunity to look up and just see clouds for a change. As an American, I for one would prefer this to a meme any day. But, as Mr. Betsky notes, memes are hard to escape. Please, MVRDV, help us find new memes! [Guy Horton writes on the culture and business of architecture in his column, CONTOURS on Archinect, and blogs for GOOD Magazine and The Huffington Post. He is also the author of the book The Real Architect's Handbook: Things I Didn't Learn in Architecture School.]
It must have been a rough day at MVRDV's Rotterdam offices after their newly unveiled Cloud tower set to be built in Seoul, South Korea went viral in a bad way. MVRDV envisioned two towers shrouded in pixelated mist, but others saw the image of a plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York, half a world away. MVRDV released the following statement on their Facebook page along with an early conceptual drawing showing the inspiration for the tower, in a much more literal cloud:
A real media storm has started and we receive threatening emails and calls of angry people calling us Al Qaeda lovers or worse. MVRDV regrets deeply any connotations The Cloud projects evokes regarding 9/11, it was not our intention. The Cloud was designed based on parameters such as sunlight, outside spaces, living quality for inhabitants and the city. It is one of many projects in which MVRDV experiments with a raised city level to reinvent the often solitary typology of the skyscraper. It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process. We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt, the design was not meant to provoke this.Check out all of the renderings over here. What do you think? Is this too reminiscent of the Twin Towers? Do you see a cloud or an explosion frozen in time?
Seoul's Yongsan International Business District, a new district designed to lift the city's architectural appeal as an international business destination, is filled with wild promises: the world's second tallest tower ('Dream Tower') to be completed by 2016, the Libeskind-designed, 28-trillion-won ($22.6-billion) 'Dreamhub' project, and now MVRDV's The Cloud. According to Yongsan Dream Hub corporation's recent presentation, the Rotterdam-based architecture and urban design firm is behind the design of the two interconnected luxury residential high-rises, named "the Cloud." The two towers, one 260-meter-tall and another 300-meter-tall, are joined in the center (at 27th floor) by what indeed resembles a floating, pixelated cloud. True to the MVRDV's signature operation of densification and multiple space use (often achieved by multiple and simultaneous stacking), the tightly and diversely stacked structure of the cloud allows a multiplicity of programs. Besides the residential function (which also isn't uniform in its offerings-- an apartment can range from 80 square meters to 260 square meters, with an option of double-height ceilings), there are 14,357 square meters worth of amenities to house public programs, from sky lounge, wellness center, conference center, fitness studio, restaurants, and cafes, to pools, patios, decks, and gardens. Both towers are accessed via a grand lobby at ground level, which also hosts town houses and public gardens designed by landscape architect Martha Schwartz; the top floors of both towers are reserved for 1200 square meters of penthouse apartments with private roof gardens. The Cloud, with a total surface of 128,000 square meters, is expected to be completed in 2015. Check out more images in the gallery below:
Still Life. Fast Company previews Brad Cloepfil/Allied Works Architecture's design for a new 28,000 square foot Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, which will hold 2,400 works from the artist's estate. Suzanne LaBarre writes that Still's will stipulated "that his estate be given, in its entirety, to an American city willing to establish a permanent museum dedicated solely to his artwork." Melting Pot. Bloomberg reports that, based on latest Census numbers, New York is back to being the most diverse city in the U.S., beating out L.A. The Italian-American Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights takes the prize for the biggest shift, with a 31% increase in Asian residents since the last Census. Scan this! In case you missed it, this week MVRDV released renderings for a mustard factory turned call center in Dijon, France, with an intriguing facade composed of QR tags, via Bustler. New Mad Men. Tommy Hilfiger and his real estate partners buy the old Met Life clock tower on Madison Avenue with plans to convert it into a hotel, writes The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, in the Meatpacking neighborhood, Hilfiger's weird preppy pop-up cottage stays up through Sunday.
Like its neighbor to the northeast, India is urbanizing at break-neck speed. Much of the resulting development takes the shape of monotonous towers and slabs designed to house the maximum number people as quickly as possible. The innovative Dutch firm MVRDV’s project Amanora Apartment City punches through, twists, and slices off pieces of a monolithic superstructure, to create a new park-side landmark within a largely undifferentiated urban field. The first of three buildings will contain 1,068 naturally-ventilated apartments ranging from studios to villa-sized units, to capture a variety of family sizes and income levels, as well as retail and community facilities. Many units will have garden balconies overlooking a park and city beyond. While the massive, mountain-like building is built of concrete, it will be richly detailed with a variety of materials, including ornamented sunshades, wood cladding on the balconies, and stone facing on passageways through the building. Taken together, the three-building complex will eventually include over 3,000 units, and their multi-peaked, zigzagging forms will create a new urban identity for the rapidly expanding city.
MVRDV just completed "Le Monolithe," a mixed-use project in Lyon, France featuring social housing, apartments, disabled residences, offices, and retail organized along a central exterior axis of courtyards. The 350,000 square foot structure overlooks the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers and represents a collaboration of several architects and landscape architects. The MVRDV-designed portion of Le Monolithe includes aluminum sun screens, drawing on Lyon's vernacular architecture. Each shutter carries a letter, and when closed, the building facade reveals the first article of the European Constitution:
The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.Le Monolithe was designed with sustainability in mind. The complex features environmentally sensitive rainwater management practices and uses renewable energy for 80% of the total energy consumed, including the use of photovoltaics. MVRDV designed the project master plan and the front portion of the building, but subsequent layers were each designed by different architects, lending a variegated feel to the overall design commonly achieved through the organic addition of architecture over time. Participating designers include Pierre Gautier, Manuelle Gautrand, ECDM and Erik van Egeraat. Landscape architects West 8 designed the public plaza.