MVRDV - Charismatic, idiosyncratic, data-driven, green, innovative: 25 years of MVRDV

Charismatic, idiosyncratic, data-driven, green, innovative: 25 years of MVRDV

“If there is one firm in the world that encapsulates why so many people get excited about architecture, it is MVRDV.”
– Jury Report, Architizer Firm of the Year Award 2018

MVRDV is 25 years old this month. To celebrate this milestone, the global architecture, interior, and urban design firm is launching 25 posters of 25 designs, giving these posters away for free.

Whatever MVRDV designs—whether a single building or a master plan for an entire city—the aim is to “show how it can be done better”. Alongside their drive for experimentation, sustainability and humour, the firm always considers the human dimension and the impact that architecture has on users of a building.

Founders Winy Maas (1959), Jacob van Rijs (1964) and Nathalie de Vries (1965), had a better world in mind in 1993. They believed their sustainable, green buildings should contribute to this, and should be adventurous. In 25 years they have designed more than 800 proposals for 65 countries, assisted by a growing team of architects and urban planners from all over the world. Those 800 projects are as diverse as can be, both in terms of scale and purpose.

“Every project is unique. We have a social and progressive office that experiments as much as possible,” explains Winy Maas. Adds Jacob van Rijs: “MVRDV does not have a fixed style that we use for everything. Our approach is that each project can vary in form and style." As Nathalie de Vries concludes: "We want to surprise people—architecture is not something static or historical for us. We do not like to look back, but rather fantasize about the future.”

For MVRDV, architecture is an applied art that only really comes to life when it is used and is always created through a close dialogue with the client. The wishes and needs of the users are central to the design. If, in the past two-and-a-half decades, there was one genre in which MVRDV excelled, then it was in multifunctional buildings—where living and working, shops and catering, culture and leisure are not separate parts, but are logically connected to each other. The firm has also designed masterplans and public spaces, and was one of the first to think about the “vertical city”, in which nature is added to roofs and elsewhere in a building to make both the building and the city greener and more liveable.

MVRDV has grown from its initial modest family into an office with more than 225 employees in Rotterdam, Shanghai and Paris. In addition to the three founders, for the past 2 years there have been four partners: Frans de Witte, Fokke Moerel, Wenchian Shi and Jan Knikker. While MVRDV attracts young architects from worldwide who want to work for “the pop stars of architecture”—a nickname they received after their design of the Dutch pavilion for the World Expo in Hannover—the family feeling has remained. At the head office in Rotterdam, staff still eat lunch together—and the lunch table in the heart of the building has grown along with the number of employees.

After 25 years, MVRDV is still ambitious. The firm wants to design museums, concert halls, and libraries to which people want to travel, residential areas that residents are proud of, offices in which people like to work. But despite their world renown, MVRDV still designs a variety of affordable buildings, including housing, characterized by diversity. The belief of the office is that architects are irrelevant if they do not take part in the world’s big challenges. Under the banner of The Why Factory and in partnership with universities, MVRDV wants to think more about the city of the future. Whether they are designing a single house, an office complex, a shopping street, a residential area, or an entire city, their approach is always tailor-made for each project—now and for the next 25 years, because architecture is always on the move.

In honour of its 25th anniversary, MVRDV has selected 25 images of popular designs to create 25 artworks that can be downloaded and printed by fans of the office. The first five artworks can be downloaded from the press room now, with new pieces added every month: 

Key Projects by MVRDV
Attention-grabbing iconic projects have brought MVRDV international recognition. These projects include Villa VPRO (1993), Expo 2000 (2000), Silodam (2002), Book Mountain (2012), the Markthal (2014), House of Culture and Movement (2016), Crystal Houses (2016), Seoullo 7017 (2017), the Bałtyk (2017) and the Tianjin Binhai Library (2017). On the other hand were smaller designs such as De Effenaar (2005), Didden Village (2006), the entrance of Stedelijk Museum Schiedam (2013), the Glazen Boerderij (2013), Casa Kwantes (2016), and Salt (2018). The master plans developed by MVRDV for cities include The Waterwijk neighbourhood in The Hague-Ypenburg (2005), Flight Forum Eindhoven (2005), Grand Paris (2008), Almere Oosterwold (2011), the residential area Nieuw Leyden (2013) and Overschild (2018).