An architect is always at the mercy of planning departments and local naysayers imposing autocratic constraints on his carefully plotted vision. Some fight it (looking at you, Gehry). Others, such as the Dutch architecture studio MVRDV, embrace it. Charged with respecting the vernacular architecture of Schijndel, a small town in the Netherlands–which also happens to be principal Winy Maas’s birthplace–the studio went comically literal: They used trompe l’oeil effects to design a building that mirrors each and every traditional farm in the region.
From afar, the 17,000-square-foot Glass Farm will look like any other farmhouse, with a pitched roof and a conventional brick facade. Up close, though, it’ll be something else altogether: The facade will feature fritted glass printed with the image of a typical Schijndel farm–a composite based on photographs of all the town’s old farms. At night, the building will be illuminated from within, becoming a tongue-in-cheek “monument to the farm.”
The building will include shops, restaurants, and a wellness center, and it’ll rise on a big market square (made awkwardly big by the bombings of the 1944 Operation Market Garden). This is not Maas’s first design proposal for the square–he has floated six others since 1980–but it’s the first to survive the town’s seemingly onerous approval processes. Construction got underway last week.
[Images courtesy of MVRDV]