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Flat with a hole


Winy Maas took the collage-like and gimmicky approach that he had used at OMA with him to MVRDV. Typical of the buildings designed by this firm is their almost anecdotal cleverness. The essence of their design can be captured in a single phrase. In Madrid, for example, they built a flat with a hole in the middle. A Boeing could fly right through it without damaging the building.

MVRDV scores hits that are an immediate success among architecture students, who go on to copy them, ad nauseum. Some of their buildings are exciting, experimental to the point of excess, and look spectacular, such as the Silodam housing complex, the sheltered housing (WoZoCo) and the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam. But they are all too often abstract and bare, such as the aforementioned El Mirador flat in Madrid, and the Parkrand building in Amsterdam.

Sometimes a battle flares up between the master and his pupil, for example regarding the VPRO building in Hilversum. Here Koolhaas accused MVRDV of plagiarism, a discussion that can rarely be brought to any satisfactory conclusion. The conflict ended undecided and in a flurry of abusive language. In 2009 attention was fixed on Winy Maas because he was one of only ten architects to be chosen by French president Sarkozy to develop a vision for Paris in 2030.