With a very unique vision and a portfolio consisting of bold and outspoken designs that do not fail in making a statement, comes an award-winning firm from the Netherlands, MVRDV. Founded in 1993 by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries, its motto strives to enable cities and landscapes to move towards a better future. Their approach revolves around collaboration, research, the participation of clients and specialists from various industries. Their works vary from mixed-use high rises to urban design as well as installations. Innovative thinking and in-depth technical knowledge make their projects stand apart.
Some of their very well-known designs include the Netherlands Pavilion for the World EXPO 2000 in Hannover, the Pushed Slab, a sustainable office in Paris’ first eco-district, the Gyre boutique shopping center in Tokyo, and the Silodam Housing complex in Amsterdam.
The Beginning Of The Project
MVRDV’s entry for Inventons la Métropole du Grand Paris compétition, a group project, was the Montpleyel(+). This mixed-use project spanning 180,000 square meters, consisted of offices, residential buildings, and several cultural activities as a part of the greater masterplan located towards the west of the city Saint-Denis in northern Paris. The project centered around the metro station of Grand Paris and was the largest site for development. This innovative design remains as an unbuilt project from the year 2017 for the client BNP Paribas Real estate in France.
The Montpleyel(+) consists of two parts. The first one comprises office spaces, various types of housing blocks, shops, markets as well as a theatre. It is called the “meta Ilot” Whereas, the second part undertaken by the partner BIG, is called the ‘inhabited bridge’ Its main objective is to connect the two parts of the city. The ground floor taken up by a food market is also intended to form a connection between the future residents while the office spaces are the main components.
The motive of building housing blocks on the meta ilot was to comfortably accommodate high density at a human scale. To make this possible, the housing towers were pixelated to give a slow and progressive transition from a low rise to a high rise building. This allowed having a modulating facade instead of having proximity between facades. Apart from that, it also helped in incorporating high human density while keeping the building uncramped.
MVRDV is known for designing green suburban spaces in the middle of metropolitan cities. According to their philosophy, they create spaces that can host plants, shrubs, and trees hence not only contributing to biodiversity and improving the microclimate but also refining the occupant’s quality of life. In this project, the masterplan was laid out and it required a large public park to be installed. The designers wanted to go beyond this by making the whole project a large expansive vertical garden covering the entire site. They wanted to incorporate nature at each level of the design. Adding openness and porosity to their work is one of MVRDV’s niches. The Montpleyel(+) features pixelated blocks or pixels on different levels. Hence, each pixel was given a touch of greenery. Hereafter, it was assigned a particular catalog of functions that depended on its program location and position.
The lower levels of the project can be accessed by the general public. Cultural as well as sports activities have been provided on this level that can be easily accessed 24×7 by the residents and visitors alike. However, the opposite ideology has been used to allocate spaces on higher floors. The green areas present on pixelated blocs have activity spaces that are shared by several residents and workers. Green areas are placed around the entire masterplan. The project as a whole acts as a gargantuan ‘green pocket’ abounding in various flora and fauna throughout.
An Iconic Landmark
The revolutionary design forms one of the most eye-catching attractions of the city. Its innovative form sets it apart from other projects. The ultra-modern silhouette against the backdrop of Grand Paris makes an iconic view. Its pixelated design makes it an urban landmark. One of the other striking features is observed when we zoom into the project. The Montpleyel(+) offers a diverse plethora of architectural language which continues from one block to the other. The progression also gives unique identities to every entity inside the masterplan.
The site is situated around a metro station in an industrial district. The Montpleyel(+) presents an advanced future for the site. For a smooth transition between both these states, the future activities would be rooted before any demolition. The designers wanted to foster a relationship with the inhabitants from the beginning. Therefore, through this approach, they would be able to introduce themselves while the original buildings would be underused parallelly, as the development of the project begins.