UNStudio’s residential project in Munich brings home an ‘analogue smart’ concept

Designed with a flexible plug-in system that adapts to residents' needs, the Van B Residence is an example of adaptable usage of space in apartment buildings.

by Shreeparna ChatterjeePublished on : Feb 16, 2021

Designed to cater to changing demographics and multiple family constellations, UNStudio’s Van B Residences are flexible apartment modules with outdoor and shared communal spaces that reimagine the future of urban living.

With the prototype made for a modern dwelling on Infanteriestrasse next to the future ‘Kreativquartier’ (creative quarter) in Munich, the project incorporates multifunctional plugin modules to make the footprint of an apartment complex much more flexible.

  • The configuration plan for plug-in modules | Van B Residence | UNStudio | STIRworld
    The configuration plan for plug-in modules Image: Courtesy of Bloomimages
  • The grid plan for Plug-Ins | Van B Residence by UNStudio | STIRworld
    The grid plan for plug-ins Image: Courtesy of Bloomimages

Emphasising on the need for adaptable and multi-functional design, the principal architect of UNStudio, Ben van Berkel, says: “Individual spaces in our homes have had to become multi-functional, serving as offices, gyms, living rooms and sleeping nooks, all at the same time. This means that now, more than ever before, we need to develop new living concepts that cater to the changing demands of our homes”.

The architectural strategy for the apartments was to devise as many ways of reconfiguring as possible. An adaptable partition and furniture ‘plugin-based’ system allows homeowners to use a 40 sqm apartment almost as if it were a 60 sqm loft. The plugin system lets the same floor be changed easily, making it possible to transform the different uses of room as needed. The residents can chose an individual configuration of plugins based on a catalogue of nine elements.

  • The Plug-Ins Matrix | Van B Residence by UNStudio | STIRworld
    The plug-ins matrix Image: Courtesy of Bloomimages
  • A visualisation model for the plug-ins | Van B Residence by UNStudio | STIRworld
    A visualisation model for the plug-ins Image: Courtesy of Bloomimages

The grid for the plugin system has been devised in accordance with each element, so when one element is opened, the back of the other one needs to be adjacent to it. This ensures that the modules work together, no matter how the residents choose to arrange them inside their apartments. The space adheres to the needs of the people living in it, and not vice-versa. The Van B residence offers several different types and sizes of options including one to three room apartments, rooftop and normal flats, and gallery lofts, depending on the demographic and residential requirements.

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    Dummy Image: Dummy
  • A close up of the bay windows | Van B Residence by UNStudio | STIRworld
    A close up of the bay windows Image: Courtesy of Bloomimages

The bay windows serve the dual purpose of connecting the outside with the interiors while also giving the building a sculptural three-dimensional shell. In the apartments from the first to the fifth floor, the living space expands from within, enabling 180-degree cityscape views while retaining privacy for the neighbours. The ground floor features gallery lofts which have glazed facades which open out the interiors of the apartments into garden. Void spaces across all three levels create a distinct spatial configuration which gives the apartments an appearance of individual small houses cradled within the building.

  • The apartment’s garden area | Van B Residence by UNStudio | STIRworld
    The apartment’s garden area Image: Courtesy of Bloomimages
  • A close up of the building’s facade | Van B Residence by UNStudio | STIRworld
    A close up of the building’s facade Image: Courtesy of bloomimages

In an effort to express the ideas of sharing economy, community creation and inclusivity through architecture, the roof terrace is open to all residents. Along with the terrace, the communal Kitchen Lounges are also a shared space for working and socialising outside the closed walls of the house. Other amenities include a fitness patio, bike repair station, alongside car and bike sharing services.

  • The living room of one of the apartments | Van B Residence by UNStudio | STIRworld
    The living room of one of the apartments Image: Courtesy of Bloomimages
  • The Penthouse interiors | Van B Residence by UNStudio | STIRworld
    The Penthouse interiors Image: Courtesy of Bloomimages
  • The bathroom interiors | Van B Residence | UNStudio | STIRworld
    The bathroom interiors Image: Courtesy of Bloomimages
  • The Ausblick interiors | Van B Residence | UNStudio | STIRworld
    The Ausblick interiors Image: Courtesy of bloomimages

“The current pandemic has highlighted how important social connections are for our wellbeing. Now more than ever, we are seeing that many people desire and need to meet regularly with their families, friends and neighbours. But with neighbours in particular, such encounters are usually spontaneous and so they need to be facilitated. Architecture can create frameworks that enable people to meet, where neighbourhood communities can be shaped and where spontaneous encounters can occur,” mentions Ben van Berkel.

  • The Townhouse interiors | Van B Residence | UNStudio | STIRworld
    The Townhouse interiors Image: Courtesy of bloomimages
  • The open roof terrace of the apartment | Van B Residence | UNStudio | STIRworld
    The open roof terrace of the apartment Image: Courtesy of bloomimages

The project has been designed in accordance with the strict sustainability regulations of Germany. The new building and walls have been reinforced by reusing parts of the foundation and basement structure from the previous building, which made the building process faster and cost-efficient. The roof garden has been put in place to cool the building overall, and the bay windows have been structurally orientated to maximise natural daylight inside the apartments.

Project Details

Name: Van B Residence
Location: Munich, Germany
Architects: UNStudio (Ben van Berkel with Jan Schellhoff and Julia Gottstein, Bart Chompff, Alexandra Virlan, Dimitra Chatzipantazi, Ana Maldonado, Patrik Noomé)          
Local Architect: BKLS Architekten
Landcape Architect: Andreas Kübler und Partner
Client: Bauwerk Capital GmbH & Co. KG         

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