Location: Rotterdam-West, Netherlands
Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries with Frans de Witte, Herman Gaarman, Arjen Ketting and Brygida Zawadzka
Engineer: IMd, NL
Installations: Techniplan, NL
Contractor: Villabouw Mattone, NL
Glass Façade: IFS Building Systems, NL
Interiors: DK Projects, BE
Photography: © Ossip van Duivenbode
Drawings and Diagrams: © MVRDV
Casa Kwantes bases itself around the clients’ desire for seclusion and privacy, whilst having a maximum of daylight and open living spaces. From the road, the bare brick wall offers only a partial glimpse into the property and family life through an opening of the white brickwork façade – a subtle indented entrance leading into an initially dark and enclosed entrance hall. In contrast, the reverse of the property completely opens up to the south with curved windows following the entire winding façade wrapped around a central olive tree.
The 480m2 private home designed by MVRDV has a distinct night-daytime separation. It is located west of Rotterdam on a corner plot of the site of an old hospital. On entering through a curved indent in an otherwise flat and mysterious façade with Celosia brickwork detail, visitors are led into the entrance hall. Stepping into the property, it suddenly opens into the well-lit living spaces of its curved and fluid interior. This continuous wall also serves as an entrance to the garage and staircase. The living room and library take up the rest of the space, wrapped around a curvaceous and carved out courtyard that frames the focal point of the house, the tree. The living room’s backbone is a long fitted closet of wood hiding all domestic functions including the basement, entrance, guest toilet, kitchen cabinets and pantry. The flooring from inside continues outside and essentially turns the courtyard into an extension of the house i.e. as an exterior room. There is a small basement for extra storage, and in addition, a sun trap patio at the bottom of the garden which provides an extra paved barbeque space for Dutch summer days.
“The curved glass continuously wraps its way around the interior façade on both levels creating continuous views from one room to another. As well as a visual connection, an exterior balcony also creates the opportunity to easily walk from one space to the next without disruption. The glass reflections of the central tree continuously change and bounce around as one moves throughout the house and changes their perspective”, says MVRDV co-founder, Jacob van Rijs.
In order to maintain a responsible environmental footprint, the house has discreetly installed a ground source heat pump, heat exchange system and a roof with solar panels. The solar panels compensate for energy lost from the house’s glazing producing enough energy for it to run entirely on electricity. Casa Kwantes has the potential to become entirely self-sufficient and these installations will be tested in the course of the next year. The living spaces absorb the most sunlight yet for summer months, they have sun shading due to floors cantilevering out slightly. The design process of the home closely followed MVRDV’s commitment to working closely with clients throughout. With almost daily communications, the end result comes as close to a tailor-made home as possible.
When balancing municipality requirements for a retro style architecture, the home became a contemporary take on 1930s modernism with its long, cream, shallow brickwork, full-height glazing, and the contrasting integration of the flat and fluid, open and enclosed, flexible and defined. As the newly built homes in the vicinity are more vernacular in their modernist approach, this variation on a more avant-garde architecture has been the subject of discussions with the municipality.
MVRDV was founded in 1993 by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The practice engages globally in providing solutions to contemporary architectural and urban issues. A highly collaborative, research-based design method involves clients, stakeholders and experts from a wide range of fields from early on in the creative process. The results are exemplary, outspoken projects, which enable our cities and landscapes to develop towards a better future.
The products of MVRDV’s unique approach to design vary, ranging from buildings of all types and sizes, to urban plans and visions, numerous publications, installations and exhibitions. Built projects include the Netherlands Pavilion for the World EXPO 2000 in Hannover; the Market Hall, a combination of housing and retail in Rotterdam; the Pushed Slab, a sustainable office building in Paris’ first eco-district; Flight Forum, an innovative business park in Eindhoven; the Silodam Housing complex in Amsterdam; the Matsudai Cultural Centre in Japan; the Unterföhring office campus near Munich; the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam; the Ypenburg housing and urban plan in The Hague; the Didden Village rooftop housing extension in Rotterdam; the music centre De Effenaar in Eindhoven; the Gyre boutique shopping center in Tokyo; a public library in Spijkenisse; an international bank headquarters in Oslo, Norway; and the iconic Mirador and Celosia housing in Madrid.
Current projects include a variety of housing projects in the Netherlands, France, China, India, and other countries; a community centre in Copenhagen and a cultural complex in Roskilde, Denmark, a public art depot in Rotterdam, the transformation of a mixed use building in central Paris, an office complex in Shanghai, and a commercial centre in Beijing, and the renovation of an office building in Hong Kong. MVRDV is also working on large scale urban masterplans in Bordeaux and Caen, France and the masterplan for an eco-city in Logroño, Spain. Larger scale visions for the future of greater Paris, greater Oslo, and the doubling in size of the Dutch new town Almere are also in development.
MVRDV first published a manifesto of its work and ideas in FARMAX (1998), followed by MetaCity/Datatown (1999), Costa Iberica (2000), Regionmaker (2002), 5 Minutes City (2003), KM3 (2005), Spacefighter (2007) and Skycar City (2007), and more recently The Vertical Village (with The Why Factory, 2012) and the firm’s first monograph of built works MVRDV Buildings (2013). MVRDV deals with issues ranging from global sustainability in large-scale studies such as Pig City, to small, pragmatic architectural solutions for devastated areas such as New Orleans.
The work of MVRDV is exhibited and published worldwide and has received numerous international awards. One hundred and fifty architects, designers and urbanists develop projects in a multi-disciplinary, collaborative design process which involves rigorous technical and creative investigation. MVRDV works with BIM and has official in-house BREEAM and LEED assessors.
Together with Delft University of Technology, MVRDV runs The Why Factory, an independent think tank and research institute providing an agenda for architecture and urbanism by envisioning the city of the future.