WoZoCo’s Apartments

WoZoCo's Apartments in Amsterdam-Osdorp, Netherlands by MVRDV, 1997

MVRDV is a part of the growing number of young Dutch architects given the freedom to build large projects in their mainland, due to the country's large population density and inherent need for housing. WoZoCo's Apartments for Elderly People (1994-97), a product of the "grey wave", provide 100 units in an area of Amsterdam threatened with loss of green space due to a large increase in density. MVRDV's solution is indicative of the firm's ability to create original designs through practical considerations.

Due to zoning regulations regarding adequate daylighting in apartments, only 87 of the 100 units could fit the restricted footprint. To respect the open space on the rest of the site, the remaining units were cantilevered on to the north facade, connected to the transparent gallery of the main block in a seemingly impossible manner. The structure of these floating boxes is buried behind the wood sheathing and within the main block, creating a sense of instability in their connection to the thin wall of the north facade.
We combine the technique of assemblage with strong zoning envelopes, often "discovered" through a recombination of program and site-specific elements.   -MVRDV
This gesture created additional costs that were dealt with in economic layouts for the rest of the project, providing savings that paid for the expense of the cantilevered units. The simple apartments in the main block achieve their own unique character through the seemingly random size and location of windows and balconies on the south facade. Referred to as the "small-talk" zone by the architects, this side of the building repeats the composition of the north facade, but on a smaller scale.

As the density of the Netherlands continues to increase, new means are sought to deal with this condition, which enables young architects like MVRDV to create innovative designs on large-scale projects without the need to prove themselves beforehand. This openness gives MVRDV an incentive to find solutions to practical issues that are fresh and inventive, bringing with them an optimistic belief in human imagination and creativity in response to pragmatic considerations.