Rob ‘t Hart

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In Defense of Renders and Trees On Top of Skyscrapers

In a recent article on Vice (in Dutch) and on his research platform website Failed Architecture, architecture writer Mark Minkjan comments on the phenomenon of architectural renders, arguing that “digital visualizations and hollow sales pitches hide the ugly sides of architecture.” In the article, Minkjan takes MVRDV's proposal for Ravel Plaza in Amsterdam as a “case study” to discuss the misleading quality of the render. This criticism – of renders in general and MVRDV's renders specifically – is a returning point of critique: on ArchDaily in 2013, Tim De Chant begged in an opinion piece “Can We Please Stop Drawing Trees on Top of Skyscrapers?” Though that article did not mention MVRDV in the text, our Peruri88 project in Jakarta was given the dubious distinction of being the article's most prominent image.

We'd like to discuss this common critique. The point of the role of visualizations in our communication is relevant but, even though we fully understand where the criticism comes from, arguments such as these are in our opinion not correct.

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How RAAAF's Experiments in Spatial Dynamics Offer Challenges to the Near Future

Whether it's a bisected war bunker, an office space that forbids sitting down or a hulking yet ultimately purposeless machine of war, the chances are that if you've seen a project by RAAAF, it provoked some questions. But while their work may appear merely idiosyncratic, it is informed by a deep understanding and questioning of culture. Originally produced and published by Freunde von Freunden as "Experiments In Spatial Dynamics: RAAAF," Leonie Haenchen delves into the architecture and philosophy that drives the unconventional Dutch practice.

It’s pouring without mercy, but at Soesterberg Airbase this is highly appreciated. “We like this weather,” says Ronald Rietveld, co-founder of RAAAF, as he greets us at the entrance of what appears to be an enormous post-apocalyptic amusement park. “The rain suits this atmosphere much better.”

RAAAF stands for Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances, which doesn’t really prepare one for what’s revealed behind the doors of Shelter 610. A monstrous arthropod made out of steel with two spindly legs stares vacuously out of its white glassy eyes. Every attempt to name this mechanical being fails, it merely appears as a collision of past and future—science fiction in flesh and blood. “Everything we do should be an in-the-moment experience, something that people can feel physically. If this object was only presented on paper, it would simply not be as strong,” says Ronald and grins mischievously. “I am sure you will still remember this moment in five years.”

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Parkrand / MVRDV

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  • Architects: MVRDV
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area :  35000
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year :  2006
  • Manufacturers Brands with products used in this architecture project
    Manufacturers :  Koninklijke Tichelaar

'Pretty Vacant' Installation / RAAAF

Currently on display until January 31, 2014, the ‘Pretty Vacant’ installation by design and research studio Rietveld Landscape encourages visitors to take a fresh look at the empty spaces of the Centraal Museum in The Netherlands. The blue window literally and figuratively sheds a new light on the space and complements the architecture of this medieval chapel. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Fort Werk aan 't Spoel / RAAAF + Atelier de Lyon

Fort Werk aan 't Spoel / RAAAF + Atelier de Lyon - Park, Garden, Facade
© Rob ‘t Hart
Culemborg, The Netherlands

Fort Werk aan 't Spoel / RAAAF + Atelier de Lyon - Park, Garden, ForestFort Werk aan 't Spoel / RAAAF + Atelier de Lyon - Park, Garden, ChairFort Werk aan 't Spoel / RAAAF + Atelier de Lyon - Park, GardenFort Werk aan 't Spoel / RAAAF + Atelier de Lyon - Park, Garden, FacadeFort Werk aan 't Spoel / RAAAF + Atelier de Lyon - More Images+ 3

Rehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal / Koen van Velsen

Rehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal / Koen van Velsen - Rehabilitation Center, Facade, Arch, ForestRehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal / Koen van Velsen - Rehabilitation Center, Facade, Column, DoorRehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal / Koen van Velsen - Rehabilitation Center, Door, Facade, Table, ChairRehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal / Koen van Velsen - Rehabilitation Center, Facade, HandrailRehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal / Koen van Velsen - More Images+ 17

  • Architects: Koen van Velsen: Architectenbureau Koen van Velsen BV
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area :  14000
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year :  2011

Melanchthon College Schiebroek / OIII Architecten

Melanchthon College Schiebroek / OIII Architecten - High School, FacadeMelanchthon College Schiebroek / OIII Architecten - High School, Stairs, Handrail, Facade, LightingMelanchthon College Schiebroek / OIII Architecten - High School, FacadeMelanchthon College Schiebroek / OIII Architecten - High School, Table, ChairMelanchthon College Schiebroek / OIII Architecten - More Images+ 4

  • Architects: OIII Architecten: Eric Paardekooper Overman and Emile Revier
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area :  3100

Sports Pavilion / MoederscheimMoonen Architects

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Admirant e 18 September Plein / Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas

Admirant e 18 September Plein / Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas - Public ArchitectureAdmirant e 18 September Plein / Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas - Public ArchitectureAdmirant e 18 September Plein / Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas - Public ArchitectureAdmirant e 18 September Plein / Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas - Public ArchitectureAdmirant e 18 September Plein / Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas - More Images+ 8

Day care centre de kleine Kikker / Drost + van Veen architecten

Day care centre de kleine Kikker / Drost + van Veen architecten - Kindergarten, Door, Facade, StairsDay care centre de kleine Kikker / Drost + van Veen architecten - Kindergarten, DeckDay care centre de kleine Kikker / Drost + van Veen architecten - Kindergarten, FacadeDay care centre de kleine Kikker / Drost + van Veen architecten - Kindergarten, Facade, StairsDay care centre de kleine Kikker / Drost + van Veen architecten - More Images+ 15

Westerdok Apartments / MVRDV

Westerdok Apartments / MVRDV - Apartments, FacadeWesterdok Apartments / MVRDV - Apartments, FacadeWesterdok Apartments / MVRDV - Apartments, Facade, Handrail, BeamWesterdok Apartments / MVRDV - ApartmentsWesterdok Apartments / MVRDV - More Images+ 1

  • Architects: MVRDV
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area :  6000
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year :  2004