The large population density of The Netherlands has created an inherent need for housing, giving young Dutch architects like MVRDV the opportunity to design and build large projects in their mainland.
WoZoCo’s Apartments for Elderly People open up 100 living units in an area of Amsterdam that has recently been threatened by the loss of green environments and spaces as a response to large increases in density. The solution found in this building is crucial to the firm’s interest in being imaginative yet practical.
Stuck conforming to zoning regulations of the surrounding area, MVRDV calculated that only 87 of the proposed 100 units could fit the restricted footprint due to regulations about daylighting. From this arose the idea of cantilevering the remaining units on the north facade, to connect to the transparent gallery of the main block found below while also opening up space on the rest of the site.
Structure is hidden inside the main block, found under the wood sheathing which projects a sense of instability between the connections of the thin walls that comprise the north facade.
Although striking and very poetic, the gesture created additional costs that had to be handled in shifting and cutting costs in the rest of the project in order to provide enough to pay for the cantilevered units. The main block features a more simple layout of seemingly random placement and sizing of windows and balconies on the southern facade. This is said to mimic the composition of the opposite facade but on a smaller scale.
The current situation of the Netherlands has allowed many young architects to provide fresh and inventive ideas without having to prove themselves beforehand, which has created an optimistic belief in human imagination and creativity.