Ilka Ruby Editor
Andreas Ruby Editor
nai010 Publishers, Rotterdam, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Architecture
9.5 x 11.75 inches, hardbound, 400 pages, illustrated throughout
ISBN: 9789462080126
Suggested Retail Price: $95.00

From the Publisher. In cooperation with Ilka and Andreas Ruby, MVRDV assembled a redefined architecture monograph about its realized work, featuring user testimonies, journalistic articles, unpublished images and accessible drawings. Since they amazed the world with their design of the Dutch pavilion at the 2000 World Expo, MVRDV has been regarded as one of the world’s top architecture bureaus. The architects of MVRDV are famous for their visionary research and thought provoking projects such as Pig City and Grand Paris. In 20 years of practice the office has also realized a stunning portfolio of buildings and urban plans, including Villa VPRO, WOZOCO, Balancing Barn and Mirador Madrid. How do these buildings perform? What are the philosophy, logic and thinking behind the visually imminent MVRDV concepts? And what’s life like in a blue house, on an orange tribune, in a vertical shopping street, in housing silos and inside a mountain of books?

On 2 book lists
John Hill

In response to the query whether this book presenting 37 buildings from the first 20 years of MVRDV is a monograph, Nathalie de Vries—one-third of the Dutch architecture firm, with Winy Maas and Jacob van Rijs—says in the preface: “In a way, yes.” She then adds, relative to the numerous books on architecture and urbanism they have produced, “The agenda is simpler this time: anyone should be able to read this book.” With editors Ilka and Andreas Ruby, and writer Natalie Janson, MVRDV has created an un-monograph monograph, one that emphasizes the people who use its buildings.

Even before reading Nathalie’s above statement on page 7, the reader is tipped off as to the unique format of the book through a photograph on page 1: a woman in the open-air ground-floor space of the Matsudai Cultural Village Center in Japan is vacuuming the mats that are used for performances. The building is the frame for the photo and the woman’s experience, but our attention is drawn to how she is interacting with it, rather than form, materials, and other architectural concerns.

The same orientation applies to the project descriptions, penned by Janson and a few other writers in a journalistic manner. Quotes from the architects can be found, but also those of the various buildings’ clients and users. A good example—one with both praise and criticism—can be found in a statement from the head of facilities at Villa VPRO, a broadcasting studio and MVRDV’s first project: “It is sometimes a real puzzle to find the ideal space for some teams. It’s either too noisy or too light. But you know, most of the people have worked here for a long time and they have no clue what a punishment it is to work in a normal office building.”

Beyond the focus on people and the insight gained through their words (not to mention the many photos grabbed from public-domain websites that accompany the professional shots), the book does an excellent job in conveying just how diverse MVRDV’s output is. The architects may be known for daring cantilevers (WoZoCo and Balancing Barn) and colorful forms (Hagen Island and Didden Village), but the reader gains an understanding that their projects do not evolve from preconceived notions. Function and experience drive MVRDV’s buildings, so it’s appropriate that the firm presents its buildings accordingly.

comments powered by Disqus