“The desire, if not the obsession, if not the necessity, is to make cities more suburbanized,” Winy Maas, principal architect (the M in MVRDV) tells Fast Company while perusing his local supermarket one Saturday morning. “How do we get people back into the downtown areas, and how do we make that attractive? The middle class should not be leaving cities.” In the past 18 months, the 50-architect firm has been winning design competitions, getting projects green-lighted, and breaking ground on its urban climbing utopias, meaning the rest of the world is finally catching up to its way of thinking.
Maas’s theory of “vertical suburbias” is perfectly attuned to a world where population is expected to grow to more than 8 billion in the next 20 years, an estimated 5 billion of those people living in urban environments. “We want to synthesize and speculate on new directions, and hopefully open up a world of dreams to developers, economists, and politicians–dreams that can somehow change our fixed and fearful society,” he says. MVRDV currently has projects in 15 nations, from China and Japan to Denmark and its native Netherlands. Here is a look at four of the firm’s biggest undertakings and the ideas they’re spreading.
DnB NOR Headquarters
Logroñ Montecorvo Eco City
Rotterdam Market Hall
Gwanggyo Power Center
LOCATION: South of Seoul, South Korea
TYPE: Mixed residential/retail/office/culture
STATUS: Under further budget and concept development
BIG IDEA: By building upward, Gwanggyo will support 77,000 people in 1.2 million square feet and be completely self-sufficient.
COOL FEATURE: Each story is a ring, creating an abundance of terraces and balconies.