MVRDV and Van Boven create plant-covered villa

14 August 2019

MVRDV/Van Boven Architecten




Green building planned for Dutch village Sint-Michielsgestel

MVRDV and Van Boven Architecten have designed a small office and residential building next to the Dommel river in the Dutch village of Sint-Michielsgestel, using a system of racked shelving to cover the entire exterior in a variety of plants. Located on the town’s southern edge, the four-storey Green Villa adopts the urban form of the neighbouring buildings, while the greenery helps it blend into the rural landscape beyond. 

The green approach stems from MVRDV’s belief that sustainability implies not only a technological challenge, but also a positive change in lifestyle, with urban areas considered as a part of the natural landscape. "This design is a continuation of our research into ‘facade-less’ buildings and radical greening,” explains Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “The idea from the nineties of city parks as an oasis in the city is too limited...Plants and trees can help us to offset CO2 emissions, cool our cities, and promote biodiversity.” 

The structure is based on a square grid, containing ground floor office space above an underground car park and below five apartments. MVRDV developed a catalogue of varying modules to place within the grid. A similar catalogue is used to populate the façade, resulting in a plant and tree library, complete with nameplates and additional information. The plant species include forsythias, jasmine, pine, and birch, providing privacy, shade, or views. Water is provided by a sensor-controlled irrigation system that collects rain.

The project was initiated and is being developed by Van Boven Architecten, who wanted to create a landmark project for the village while also being socially conscious and environmentally progressive. The villa is the second project in which Winy Maas has worked with Theobert van Boven, the head of Van Boven Architecten. In 2016, they were jointly responsible for the design of the expansion of the local Gymnasium Beekvliet, where they both attended school. “The Green Villa is also a personal project, because I went to school in Sint-Michielsgestel”, adds Maas. “Just like I did before with the Glass Farm, in my native village Schijndel, I am returning to the region of my youth.” 

Van Boven Architecten are also acting as the project’s developer, with Stein assisting the project. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2020.

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

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