MVRDV- The Firm 

Founded in 1993 by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, and Nathalie De Vries, MVRDV is a multi-disciplinary architectural practice based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The studio engages with clients, stakeholders, and experts from a variety of fields owing to the use of a highly collaborative, research-based designed method that is used in the early stages of the creative process. The team comprises 250 architects, designers, and urbanists who collectively develop projects through a collaborative design process that involves rigorous technical and creative investigation. 

Winy Maas, in an interview with Archdaily, states that for them, Innovation is key. But he can’t guarantee that they innovate every time- they do tests, they make mistakes and hope that it turns out to be something innovative ultimately. The diverse portfolio of projects by MVRDV shows how their aim is not to develop a specific style of architecture but rather provide and develop different methods in designing architecture and urban space

An inside look at the architectural studio of MVRDV - Sheet1
Organised like a small town: MVRDV House in Rotterdam_©Ossip van Duivenbode

The Team 

Winy Maas- Principal Architect and Founder 

Architecture facilitates urbanism; therefore we facilitate politics of cities and of countries.” – Winy Maas 

Winy Maas, a Dutch architect, landscape architect, urbanist, and professor, is one of the three founders of MVRDV. After graduating from RHSTL Boskoop, he finished his degree at the Delft University of Technology in 1990. Apart from being a founder of MVRDV, he also designs stages, and objects and has curated Indesem 2007. He also founded ‘The Why Factory’, a think tank research institute in 2008 which is now a part of the Faculty of Architecture at TU Delft. 

His wide range of urban planning and building projects, across all typologies and scales brought him international acclaim. These projects are self-generated, innovative, experimental, and theoretical. 

Jacob van Rijs- Principal Architect and Founder 

“Good designs should also be brave – it’s easy to make people happy by giving them what they expect, but it’s much better to show them how unexpected ways of doing things can improve their lives in some way.” -Jacob van Rijs

Jacob van Rijs, is an architect and urban planner from Amsterdam, and one of the three founders of MVRDV. He graduated from the Delft University of Technology. He gives lectures worldwide and is also a professor at the Technical University of Berlin. He is known to combine bold ideas and concepts with a humanistic, user-friendly approach in his designs. 

Nathalie de Vries- Principal Architect and Founder 

“Developing your own style means acting by doing.” -Nathalie de Vries

Nathalie de Vries is a Dutch architect, urbanist and a lecturer from Appingedam, Netherlands. She finished her studies at the Delft University of Technology and is a guest professor at TU Berlin. Her work mainly focuses on inventing new building typologies and incorporating open changeable systems in both buildings and urban plans. She develops groundbreaking, spatially varied projects and sustainable innovative concepts which she showcases through lectures, interviews, exhibitions, and publications. 

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The founders of MVRDV, left to right: Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, and Nathalie de Vries_©Inexhibit

Core Principles/ Values 

In an exhibition that happened at the center for architecture in Austria, Natalie de Vries suggests the language of MVRDV through four words that describe their work- 

  1. Stack: The increasing demand in space, to connect functions vertically to create a three-dimensional space, by renewing the standard way to deal with densification. 
  2. Pixel: It provides the smallest unit in an agglomeration of units and deals with boundaries of space.
  3. Village: With this approach, MVRDV not only takes into consideration the development of the building but the context as well – to sustain healthy communities and ideal neighborhoods. 
  4. Activator: These are spaces that engage in social interaction. 
An inside look at the architectural studio of MVRDV - Sheet3
Architecture speaks: The Language of MVRDV_©MVRDV

Projects 

Villa VPRO-1993-1997

Through the open plan and informal design of Villa VPRO, the architects at MVRDV succeeded in introducing a new typology of an office building. Villa VPRO is located in Hilversum, a town southeast of Amsterdam. 

A wide range of workspaces are created throughout the different floors which are connected by spatial devices like ramps, stepped floors, monumental steps, and small rises. These spaces help meet the ever-changing and diverse demands of VPRO. The rooms retain the highest possible transparency, owing to the structure of the villa which is supported by a grid of columns and the technical facilities that remain hidden in the hollow floor. 

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Villa VPRO, Hilversum (Paises Bajos)_©Rob’t Hart

Markthal- 2014

The Markthal, developed by MVRDV in 2014, is located in the historic Laurenskwartier in the heart of Rotterdam. It is a new hybrid building typology that comprises a covered market square beneath a large arch that features 228 privately developed apartments. It provides a sustainable mix of leisure, living, food, and parking. The central market hall houses fresh food stalls and shopping units, providing opportunities to businesses and local vendors. 

Mid-level walkway overlooking the market_©Scagliola/ Brakkee

Design Process 

The team at MVRDV is much more interested in design methods that can be used to research issues such as programs, context, and typology that affect the respective project. They work on projects across all scales at a global level. Their approach is further exemplified by their global think-tank and research institute called ‘The Why Factory’. It is led by Winy Maas and its findings are communicated to the public at large via exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions and publications. It focuses on the production of models and visualizations for future cities by exploring possibilities for development. 

They share some common ideas of treating a project with OMA where the architect becomes a catalyst and the projects are collaborative rather than tools to satisfy an architect’s personal goals or choices. 

After almost 20 years since its inception, MVRDV still manages to surprise us with the projects it envisions. From its first project to its latest works, it has continually assessed the need of the hour and kept in mind the user’s requirements. The collaborative and user-friendly approach towards its projects is what makes MVRDV truly unique as an architectural practice. 

References:
  1. ArchDaily. (2014). Markthal Rotterdam / MVRDV. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/553933/markthal-rotterdam-mvrdv .
  2. www.mvrdv.nl. (n.d.). Architecture Speaks: The Language of MVRDV. [online] Available at: https://www.mvrdv.nl/projects/394/architecture-speaks:-the-language-of-mvrdv  [Accessed 14 Jan. 2022].
  3. ArchEyes. (2020). Villa VPRO Headquarters by MVRDV Architects in Hilversum. [online] Available at: https://archeyes.com/villa-vpro-headquarters-mvrdv/ .
  4. Viva, A. (n.d.). Villa VPRO, Hilversum – MVRDV. [online] Arquitectura Viva. Available at: https://arquitecturaviva.com/works/villa-vpro-5
  5. Detail-online.com. (n.d.). An Office Landscape in Three Dimensions: Villa VPRO by MVRDV in Hilversum (1997). [online] Available at: https://www.detail-online.com/article/an-office-landscape-in-three-dimensions-villa-vpro-by-mvrdv-in-hilversum-1997/  [Accessed 14 Jan. 2022].
  6. Detail-online.com. (n.d.). Organised like a small town: MVRDV House in Rotterdam. [online] Available at: https://www.detail-online.com/article/organised-like-a-small-town-mvrdv-house-in-rotterdam-32664/  [Accessed 14 Jan. 2022].
  7. Madame Architect. (n.d.). A Broader Vision: MVRDV’s Nathalie de Vries on Running a Business, Reinventing Practice, and Leading by Example. [online] Available at: https://www.madamearchitect.org/interviews/2020/3/3/nathalie-de-vries  [Accessed 14 Jan. 2022].
  8. Wikipedia. (2021). Jacob van Rijs. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_van_Rijs  [Accessed 14 Jan. 2022].
  9. aut.cc. (n.d.). Architecture Speaks: The Language of MVRDV — aut. architektur und tirol. [online] Available at: https://aut.cc/en/exhibitions/the-language-of-mvrdv  [Accessed 14 Jan. 2022].
  10. Wikipedia. (2021). Winy Maas. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winy_Maas  [Accessed 14 Jan. 2022].
  11. Mvrdv.nl. (2012). MVRDV – Enable cities and landscapes to develop towards a better future. [online] Available at: https://www.mvrdv.nl/about
Author

Shaymi Shah is a published author and an architectural content writer by profession. Through keen observation about architecture and life around her, she weaves narratives through her writing as she wants to make people, even outside the fraternity, realize the importance and fundamental need of design in our daily lives.

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