AD Classics: WoZoCo / MVRDV

© Samuel Ludwig

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.

is a prime example of a specific need for housing in the country, providing answers for needs of their time. More on this apartment complex for elderly people by MVRDV after the break.

© Samuel Ludwig

WoZoCo’s Apartments for Elderly People open up 100 living units in an area of 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.

© Samuel Ludwig

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.

© Samuel Ludwig

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.

© Samuel Ludwig

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.

Architect: MVRDV
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Project Year: 1994-1997
References: MVRDV
Photographs: Samuel Ludwig

Cite: Sveiven, Megan. "AD Classics: WoZoCo / MVRDV" 28 Feb 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • up_today_arch

    Executive drawings are most interesting part of the project I think…

  • AHN

    This project is so familiar, because of CAD..

  • harry

    It looks like a ghetto. Even for the Netherlands its a strange concept.

  • Richie

    I love the crazy ‘literalism’ of Dutch architecture.. you wouldn’t find stuff like this getting built in many other countries. That said, I wonder how easily the elderly people sleep at night with their entire house cantilevering out into empty space!