In the space of twenty years, architectural practice MVRDV saw thirty-seven projects reach completion. Here they are surveyed in a journalistic and accessible monograph that is not afraid of signs of use or a building’s patina. Each project comes to us via a heading, usually with a quotation, an actual subheading, a text, a collection of photos, sometimes a brief comment from a user, and finally a spread of drawings. These last are enlivened by clever use of colour.
The series of photographs deliberately distance themselves from conventional architectural photography and are closer to what can be found on the websites of estate agents and travel agencies. Photos taken by occupiers and users are interspersed with Google images, and there is even a short sequence from the CCTV cameras in a porter’s lodge. Photographs taken during construction are consistently reproduced in black-and-white.
The end matter takes up only eight pages but is stuffed with information. The book is printed on uncoated paper. Uncoated architecture? Five years ago that would have been unthinkable.
One panel member failed even to gain a toehold with his preference for ‘less is more’ when it came to the selection of photographs. The others saw logic and subtlety in the multiplicity. ‘This is really strong design.’