Architecture without a language is much like what literature would be without words. The one thing that connects any kind of literature to its reader or in the case of architecture, the viewer, is its ‘language'. In architecture, this language can be perceived as the process of designing and the structure of the building. MVRDV, an architecture and urbanism practice, has taken up the task of exhibiting their otherwise concealed process to its viewers through their exhibition, Architecture Speaks:The Language of MVRDV.
MVRDV, named as an acronym after its founding members - Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries - is a Netherlands-based architectural firm that curates exemplary projects following a research-based design methodology. Architecture Speaks is the platform crafted to bring these methods for public viewing in the form of an exhibition. The exhibition began on July 6 and will remain open till September 28, 2019, at the Tyrolean Architecture Centre (aut) in the city of Innsbruck, Austria. Aut’s Adambräu Building, a former brewhouse, has been designed to be an immersive installation with four towers as its main attraction.
The four towers painted in vibrant colours present MVRDV’s projects and the ideas behind them through images, text, models, drawings, videos, audio, interactive elements, and other experiential methods. Furthermore, the towers attempt to symbolise the pillars on which all of MVRDV’s contemporary as well as future designs are based - 'stack', 'pixel', 'village' and 'activator'.
THE FOUR PILLARS
The concept ‘stack’ in the firm’s dictionary means a solution towards the growing hunger for more habitable floors as a consequence of densification. Stacking means adding vertical levels to a building to proliferate the already available space instead of only filling the voids of a city. The idea revolves around the function of ‘pile- up’ to create a future that is collective in nature.
The 'stack' tower at the aut comprises four rounded volumes, formed with yellow curtains, stacked over two storeys. Within this space, the upper floor showcases models of MVRDV projects, while a ‘models playroom’ on the lower level allows visitors to create their own stacked designs from blue foam.
With a substantial increase in urbanisation, there has been a parallel rise in the diversity of the occupants. ‘Pixel’ is what attempts to provide the designers the stability in this unstable and unpredictable market. It is the functional unit that can serve as an outlet for various purposes like working, playing, living, all under one roof. It is an innovation for the emerging future of diverse needs.
The 'pixel' tower has been constructed from hundreds of bright pink cardboard boxes, some of which display images of MVRDV projects. At the base of the three-storey tower, viewers can enter to experience the hollowed-out space, and on other levels, ‘missing’ pixels provide visitors a glimpse to the inside of the tower.
The company is not far from realising the innate need of people for a social environment as ‘village’ is MRVDV’s concept for giving the structures a more holistic character. The buildings designed under the metaphorical ‘village’ are a work of contemporary technology applied to archetypal structures binding the local culture in them. It is a spatial arrangement that encourages community and social intimacy to prepare for a future that will be social.
The two-storey blue plywood 'village' tower is hollow inside, with a ladder that allows both visual and physical connections between floors. Inside, visitors can listen to an audio recording that describes the ideals behind the village, while horizontal arms extending from the vertical trunk of the tower offer visitors a new perspective of the aut exhibition space.
4. ACTIVATORThe fourth pillar explains the word ‘activator’ in the form of an equation with a strong social agenda being added to the concept of sustainable designs as its left-hand side. It is the strategy that provides a meaningful context to the structures created by making them more interactive with the environment. The explorations in this field have yielded a spectrum of simpler designs like that of balconies to much intricate provision of personal gardens, all of which are indicative of a productive future.
The 'activator' tower, made of a reusable steel scaffold structure provides spaces for both people and nature. On the outside of the tower, shelves provide spaces for a diverse array of plants, while inside, visitors can climb the structure to watch a video in which Nathalie de Vries, co-founder, principal architect and urban designer of MVRDV, describes the firm's projects that function as activators. Those who can climb to the very top are treated to unique views over the other towers.
The permutation and combination of these four words stringed into a comprehensive strategy is what works as a solution for providing a more substantial and improved space to accommodate the ever-growing population. In addition to each of these towers representing a different idea from MVRDV’s design processes, each one is also a reflection of MVRDV buildings through different media.
Architecture Speaks reflects upon and investigates multiple concepts and ideas that form the core belief system of the architecture of the firm in a holistic, easily approachable fashion, making the exhibition a diverse experience intriguing for a variety of audiences.