“Without continual growth and progress, words like improvement, achievement and success, have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin. Building houses for just one person is stressful, but try building for a few hundred or even a few thousand at one time. This seems very daunting to me but one firm in Europe has got the recipe down for just this situation. I was very interested to see how the MVRDV firm handles such large scale housing in different places. I was taken with 2 projects that shine above the rest. The first is the Ypenburg Master plan of the Netherlands and the second it the additions to the Wozoco project in Amsterdam.
The Ypenburg project is simply astonishing. A whole community focused on unity between little islands of residential space. My favorite part of this cluster is the vibrantly colored houses. Each of the houses seems to have the same general shape. Just the typical house. But the exceptional part is how each house extends to different lengths as well as unique in materials and color. It is one of the strangest versions of “Suburbia” I have ever seen. This not only fosters a common ground in the people that live there but also gives them something to stand out as well. Social housing generally has a negative connotation for which most people would not really want to discuss it. But I, for one, would be happy to talk all day about these houses. The level of thought that went into designing this complex not only is good for the environment and economy of the town, it is good for the people. The community is the thread that makes the town and without the common pieces everything would unravel and the town would crumble to ashes. Having spaces and places that bring back the since of pride to a neighborhood is a commendable act for anybody. This approach to social housing projects is exactly why I like MVDRV.
Continuing on with another great social housing project, Wozoco is exactly the kind of structure needed in bigger cities. The firm literally just attached what looked like glass boxes to the side of a building. They seem to defy gravity an float above the heads of passers-by. Of course they are cantilevered and definitely structurally sound, but the illusion is on that will get you everytime. The new spaces created from these boxes have added so much more room for the residence of this building. As in the last project, this community is one people can be proud to say they are a part of. It currently functions as an elderly community, but it is no less impressive. The interiors are clean and cut. I love this about the buildings of today. This style of new architecture really is for everyone. This is one of the best parts of social housing in genral for me and the MVDRV firm. Nobody is excluded and there is a niche for every type of person.
MVDRV is quickly becoming one of my favorite firms. I admire their contribution to the world and think we all should strive to be their equals.