MVRDV and Fugger Foundation are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Fuggerei social housing project, the world's oldest housing complex, with a ceremonial pavilion and three proposals for “Fuggerei of the Future”. The celebration features a 5-week programme of interdisciplinary discussions and events about social housing and current global challenges. In honor of the occasion, MVRDV designed the 'NEXT500' pavilion, which exhibits an MVRDV study on the “Fuggerei of the Future”, presenting a new Fuggerei code and three proposals for new Fuggerei complexes around the world.
Inside the pavilion, visitors can experience an exhibition on the “Fuggerei of the Future”. The design team studied the existing complex in Augsburg and refined the complex’s formula to ensure successful social housing, keeping in line with the Fuggerei’s newly written “Fuggerei Code”. The result is eight simple “building blocks” that provide a foundation or reference for the new Fuggerei, which can be adapted to differing global contexts. These blocks are also referenced in the pavilion’s interior circulation and layout, with eight different spaces for the exhibition and events.
The pavilion is a narrow and gabled building inspired by the long terraced houses of the Fuggerei. Rather than having a single straight block, one end of the pavilion is curved and raised up to signify "looking out to the future Fuggereien", both locally and globally, forming a cantilever that houses a tribune for lectures, debates, workshops, and other cultural events.
The structure, with its eight-metre cantilever and double-curved elements, is made entirely with modern CLT technology of cross-laminated timber, prioritizing sustainability in the selection of materials and construction techniques. CLT allows the pavilion to use a modular system, making it easily demountable and ensuring it can have a second life. The wood is sourced locally from the Fuggerei’s own forests, and was assembled by a local carpenter to create the wooden interiors.
MVRDV also developed three proposals for Fuggerei both inside and outside Europe based on the Fuggerei Code and building blocks developed during the study. The first is proposed for Augsburg, and is distinguished by its educational focus, aiming to reduce the city’s wealth gap through education. The second Fuggerei of the future is dedicated to a community in rural Lithuania, which focuses on elderly poverty and its crisis in social care. The third Fuggerei focusses on Rothumba, a remote fishing village in Sierra Leone, with the strategy of empowering residents and creating a safe environment for women and children. Each design varies based on their purpose and location, but maintain the same principles as the 500-year-old original.
The Fuggerei was constructed in Augsburg, Germany on August 23, 1521 by merchant Jakob Fugger to provide a permanently-affordable shelter, priced at 0.88 Euros in today's currency. Corresponding to today's housing shortage, climate crisis, and social inequality, the community-centered approach of the Fuggerei offers an all-inclusive and empathetic response to today's great social, cultural, and ecological challenges.
The pavilion was unveiled on May 6 by UNIDO Director General Gerd Müller in a ceremony in the presence of the Bavarian State Minister for Building, Housing and Transportation Christian Bernreiter, Mayor Eva Weber, Alexander Graf Fugger-Babenhausen, CEO of the Kresge Foundation Rip Rapson, MVRDV founding partner Jacob van Rijs, and the three founders of the Future Fuggereien: Stella Rothenberger, Gintaras Grachauskas, and Rugiatu Neneh Turay. The pavilion can be visited until June 12, 2022. In addition to a pavilion and an exhibition, MVRDV's research also resulted in a 191-page book, “Fuggerei of the Future”.