UNStudio and Bauwerk have created a new ‘analog smart’ urban living concept for the Van B residences in Munich, Germany. The completely new form of housing reimagines the future of city living, catering to changing demographics and multiple family constellations. Through adaptable partitions and a system of plugin furniture, the project allows an easy change of configuration. “Quality meters over square meters”.
Located next to the future creative quarter in Munich, the new Van B residential project is a “prototype for modern city-dwelling”. Encompassing highly flexible apartments, outdoor and shared communal spaces and a striking façade, the under-construction residential and office development offers a new form of urban living, with multifunctional plugin modules. On that note, Ben van Berkel, founder and principal architect of UNStudio stated that ever since “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[…] we need to develop new living concepts that cater to the changing demands of our homes.”
What makes Van B truly special and unique is that it offers a completely new form of ‘smart’ living. This is not smart in the usual sense of tech integration; it instead involves reinterpreting ideas from the digital world in order to improve the analog, physical spaces we inhabit. -- Ben van Berkel, founder and principal architect of UNStudio.
As these notions become more important to people in today’s world, through Van B, UNStudio introduces new ways to make the footprint of an apartment more flexible. The strategy consists of creating as many different ways as possible to reconfigure an apartment, by imagining “an adaptable partition and furniture ‘plugin-based’ system that allows homeowners to use the space in a 40m2 apartment almost as if it were a 60m2 loft”.
The flexibility lies in the fact that each element can work in different configurations and that the resident can choose an individual configuration of plugins based on a catalog of nine elements. – UNStudio.
Allowing tenants to easily change the use of the same floor space in a matter of seconds, the design challenges old conventions of square footage, encouraging people to live in more flexible ways. To achieve this, UNStudio put in place elements placed on a grid, where “whenever one element is opened, the back of the other one needs to be adjacent to it”, generating a module that always works together. In fact, homeowners can change their space according to their daily needs.
Related ideas have been seen in architecture in the past, but Van B goes beyond traditional ideas of flexibility as we know them in architecture. It is more intelligent, adaptable and user friendly, while also providing high levels of comfort.-- Ben van Berkel, founder and principal architect of UNStudio.
In addition, the design helps achieve a community within the development, by using outdoor space as an extension of the living spaces. Large bay windows and balconies expand the space and create visual connections between the street, the homes, and the outside trees. Gallery lofts that face the courtyard on the ground floor invite residents to open up their apartments and extend their living rooms into the garden, while the three-level voids create unique spatial configurations.
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 neighbors. But with neighbors in particular, such encounters are usually spontaneous and so they need to be facilitated. Architecture can create frameworks that enable people to meet, where neighborhood communities can be shaped and where spontaneous encounters can occur. -- Ben van Berkel, founder and principal architect of UNStudio.
- Client: Bauwerk Capital GmbH & Co. KG
- Location: Munich
- Building surface: 15.945 m2 total (9.905 m2 above ground)
- Building volume: 51.380 m3 total (29.807m3 above ground)
- Building site: 2.419 m2
- Programme: residential & office
- Status: under construction
- 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
- Cost and Quantity Surveying: Leitwerk AG
- Structure: Ingenieurgesellschaft albrecht + brettfeld mbh
- MEP: IB Schmidbauer Planungsgesellschaft Haustechnik mbH & MTM-Plan GmbH
- Fire safety: Brandschutzservice Zobel GmbH
- Visualizations: Bloomimages