MVRDV Goes to Pot With Its Green Villa

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The Dutch architects cover a modest building with green plants of all kinds in pots of all sizes.

Putting plants on buildings has been a thing for a few years now. Some, like Patrick Blanc, do "living walls". Others, like Edouard François, did "green façades." One of his most famous buildings was his Tower Flower from 2004, where he basically put plants in giant flower pots on the balconies.

Now Winy Maas of MVRDV has gone to pot with his new project, "green villa." Unlike the Tower Flower, these are all different sizes and different plants.

The design developed by MVRDV and Van Boven Architecten continues the formation of the street frontage on Adrianusplein, adopting the mansard roof shape of the previously constructed buildings. Within this shape, however, the Green Villa diverges drastically from the other buildings on the street in its materiality; a “rack” of shelves, of varying depths, hosts an abundance of potted plants, bushes, and trees such as forsythias, jasmine, pine, and birch.
Aerial view


It is an interesting mix, matching the existing building forms of the neighbors "while the plant covering helps it blend into the bucolic landscape of the nearby river, fields and trees."

The structure of the Green Villa is based on a square grid four bays wide and three bays deep. MVRDV developed a catalogue of varying space modules, such as bedrooms and living spaces, to place within the grid. A similar catalogue is used to populate the façade, resulting in a three- dimensional arboretum, a plant and tree library, complete with nameplates and additional information.

Unlike Stefano Boeri's urban forest in Milan, these plants won't need gardeners rappelling down the side of the building.

Interior view MVRDV green villa


The plant species are selected and placed with consideration of the façade orientation and the living functions behind, providing either privacy, shade, or views as required. A sensor- controlled irrigation system that uses stored rainwater has been incorporated into the planters, guaranteeing a year-round green facade.

MVRDV make no grand claims about sucking up carbon, or I would raise the question of how much additional concrete was needed to support all these plants. Given that the plants are not hanging out on monster cantilevers and are a mix of small and large pots, I suspect it's not much extra concrete at all.