D.I.Y Urbanism: Almere Oosterworld / MVRDV

Courtesy of

MVRDV‘s proposal for an urban development in Almere Oosterworld, the Netherlands, is a template for a project that puts power into the hands of neighborhoods and communities.  This development strategy is bottom-up, inclusive and very intuitive to the needs of individuals and their communities.  It allows the design to develop organically and over a stretch of time as needs change and neighborhoods grow.  MVRDV writes that the proposal “is a revolution in Dutch urban planning as it steps away from governmental dictate and invites organic urban growth in which initiatives are stimulated and inhabitants can create their own neighbourhoods including public green, urban agriculture and roads”.  

Find out how it’s done after the break.

Courtesy of MVRDV

The project is open ended, but the 43 square kilometer site is anticipated to include 15,000 dwellings, provide 26,000 jobs, allot 135-ha to businesses and 200,000-m2 to offices, provide facilities, and create 400-ha of new landscape.  The coverage of the site realies upon private initiatives and is completely open-ended.  A completion date is not set and this could mean that this project is a never-ending cycle of building and cannibalizing architecture as needs change, which is already an organic process in the built environment.

Courtesy of MVRDV

The approach is also a critique of the Netherlands’ urban planning strategies, which MVRDV writes, “gets too perfect and hence predictable”.  The new Town Almere, of which Almere Oosterworld will be a part, was designed in a similar fashion, allowing individuals to build their own homes.  In this instance, MVRDV is the organizer, but private initiative is the driver.

Courtesy of MVRDV

The town of Almere envisions the extensive farmland to begin integrating elements of the built environment in innovative ways that preserve the landscape and allow both to thrive.  A combination of programs and building typologies will be necessary, but will likely evolve organically.  The designations that have been established to guide the development are designed to promote differentiation and preserve the landscape.

Courtesy of MVRDV

50% of the site has been designated for urban farming to provide specialized food production for the city.  As individuals begin to realize their designs they will also be held responsible for the components that make their share of the land livable: the piece of road, energy, sanitation, rubbish collection, public green and urban farming.  General programming of the site will also be kept at 18% construction, 8% roads, 13 % public green, 2% water and 59% urban agriculture.

Courtesy of MVRDV

The planning has allotted the rest of the space for collective initiatives that will help create a strong sense of community and character of the town.  Programs such as golf courses, plantations, and collective villages are foreseen in the development strategy.  This guide or template for mixed use development was designed for the Almere 2030 Structure Vision.  With an anticipated growth of inhabitants to 100,000 and workplaces to 60,000, the government along with MVDRV envisioned a design strategy that would sponsor the organic growth of villages where the government transitions its role from “directing to facilitating”.

Design : MVRDV
Location: Almere Oosterwold, NL
Design team : Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries with Jeroen Zuidgeest en Klaas Hofman, Chiara Quinzii, Mick van Gemert, Sara Bjelke, Jonathan Telkamp, Maarten Haspels, Wing Yun.
Name : Almere Oosterwold, NLYear of design (month + year) : April 2011 – ongoing
Sketch Design : Development strategy
Start execution : 2013
Status : Ongoing
Client : Werkmaatschappij Almere Oosterwold / Municipality of Almere
Size : 4.300 ha
Program : 15.000 dwellings, 26.000 jobs, 135 ha business, 200.000 m2 bvo offices, facilities, 400 ha new landscape
Landscape DLG : Niels Hofstra
Infrastructure, Energy, Sanitation : Grontmij; Alex Hekman, Martin de Jonge, Jasper Groebe
Urban farming : Wageningen University, Jan Eelco Jansma
Artist Impressions : MVRDV

Cite: Vinnitskaya, Irina. "D.I.Y Urbanism: Almere Oosterworld / MVRDV" 22 Apr 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=227503>
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  • E-J

    sorry to say this but i don’t get this. how is this different from a regular bottum up project except for the scale?

  • Susana Saraiva

    I guess the difference its thats its located in The Netherlands, which which doesn’t know what disorder means! In a country so used to urban planning Im afraid this might actually work, but dont fool yourselves, this does not apply to most of the world…
    I really like some of MVRDV´s approaches, because even if you dont like or agree, you have to give the guys a credit – they think! – I would like to see their thinking abilities more often applied to areas of the world where urban planning or architecture are concepts that dont figure in the dictionary.

    • Natalia K

      give the guys a credit because they think. well thats generous, Susana.

      most of these projects declare great egos, and whilst some irritate less then others, they are trying hard and most of it feels sinthetic

  • gerald

    To “shock” and thereby seem hip is relatively easy in over planed Holland. The problem is that this simplistic approach unfortunately doesn’t solve any important issues society is facing.

    This laissez-faire approach will only lead to a tragedy of the commons. Society needs quiet the opposite: good cooperation, strong interrelationships and long term commitment.

    Not the hit and run plans and cynical interpretations of sustainability, like the tragic Hannover pavilion, MVRDV excel in.