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FARMAX Excursions on Density


Winy Mass and Hacob van Rijs with Richard Koesk


Rotterdam, The Netherlands











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Argomento e tematiche affrontate

The Netherlands is reputed to have the highest average population density in the world though it is increasingly becoming distributed in low density suburban areas threatening to transform the country into a sort of city state. The architects' bureau MVRDV and students at Delft University have sought to remedy this situation by proposing areas of ultra-density inserted into pastoral landscapes. This book sets out to discover the prospects and limitations, the world of the extreme Floor Area Ratio, or FARMAX. The book is an architectural narrative composed of studies and designs carried out by MVRDV and students of Delft University of Technology, the Berlage Institute in Amsterdam and the Academy of Architecture and Urban Planning in Rotterdam, plus various contributions by other authors.   Authors are trying every the most important aspects in eight chapters: Liteness, Massiveness, Light, Monument Act, Relativity, Infrastructure, Distribution and Interior. Moreover, every chapter has various subsections with examples; photos and drawings are important way to show analyzed aspects.

FARMAX essentially means compressing a population vertically and horizontally so as to give that population more space.


Giudizio Complessivo:  6

Scheda compilata da: Klaudia Penkala

Corso di Architettura e Composizione Architettonica 2 a.a.2012/2013


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MVRDV was set up in Rotterdam (Netherlands) in 1993 by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries. In close collaboration the 3 principal architect directors produce designs and studies in the fields of architecture, urbanism and landscape design. Early projects such as the headquarters for the Public Broadcasting Company VPRO and the WoZoCo housing for elderly in Amsterdam brought MVRDV to the attention of a wide field of clients and reached international acclaim.


Realized projects include the Dutch Pavilion for the World EXPO 2000 in Hannover, an innovative business park 'Flight Forum' in Eindhoven, the Silodam Housing complex in Amsterdam, the Matsudai Cultural Centre in Japan, Unterföhring office campus near Munich, the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam, an urban plan and housing in The Hague Ypenburg, the rooftop - housing extension Didden Village in Rotterdam, the cultural centre De Effenaar in Eindhoven, the boutique shopping building Gyre in Tokyo, Veldhoven’s Maxima Medical Centre and the iconic Mirador housing in Madrid.

The grand variety of projects continues in the work of the office. Current projects in progress or on site include various housing projects in the Netherlands, Spain, China, France, Austria, the United Kingdom, USA and other countries, a television centre for Zürich, a public library in Spijkenisse (Netherlands), a central market hall in Rotterdam, a culture plaza in Nanjing, China, large scale urban masterplans in Oslo, Norway, Tirana, Albania and a masterplan for an eco-city in Logrono, Spain. Large scale visions for the future of greater Paris and the doubling in size of Dutch new town Almere are developed.



The work of MVRDV is published and exhibited worldwide and received many international awards. The monographic publications FARMAX (1998) and KM3 (2005) illustrate the work of the Rotterdam based office.






- PERMANENCE – town planning study for the manifestation „Rotterdam 2045” on the future development of the Rotterdam region, The Netherlands (1995)


Can we define an environment that can be broken down or cleared more easily , so that we can change our urbanistic goals within a relatively short time? can we imagine a lighter mode of urbanism, one that can be considered as non- designed, less regulated and more free? (…) should we regard all of the existing urban fabric as permanent? Are all our buildings that beautiful or valuable that we have to work with them as if they were monuments?

That questions and others try to fokus on that urbanism is all the time changing- many houses have an economical value of 30- 40 years, so we shouldn’t see them like a monuments, which we cannot destroy or change. Existing towns have more opportunity to begin similar with landscape. There is a lot of solutions for that- graas roads intead of asphalt, ecological pools intead of sewage pipes, minibuses or buses-on demand instead of expensive metro lines and more.


Descrizione: IMG_0220That ecological thinking is also economic- economy thus links arms with ecology. Very low dentisity is accessible with existing budget, so we can explicate big garden around the houses. It’s possible to do that in different spatial ways. We can materialize it in a campingland or villageland.




- CAMPINGLAND-  space, where society of middle class is an a position to expand hugely, with more people working less hours. That middle class will have more homeworkers, whos will have many different working and living relationships.The city disolves into a ‘land’ of various plots organised by various networks. Houses, farms, colonies, etc. are connected together in one big supercamp, where time spent like holiday is part of daily life.

Based on stories of different people we can have look on life style, organizing daily life, leisure time and so on.

Individualizing is on the increase. Everyone divides up their time according to their need as individuals- the same for family with children and without. Taking meals together is replaced by meetings. Also for bigger and bigger group of people leasure time has more central place in life- not work but free time gives life meaning for this group. Moreover, hobbies practiced in tandem mean more status. Leisure activity is different acording to age.

We also can see that present lifestyle is very hardly focused on the image presented to the outside world. The media has important position nowadays- for example, it show us how today’s home should look like- starting from special TV programmes about home furnishing and garden design up to kiosks with special shelves with home and garden magazines.


- VILLAGELAND- Clanning. Despite the apparent trend towards an ever greater individualization there is also evidence of reverse trend. Enlargement of the living enviroment has brought increased interest in ‘community’ at the small scalem the need for something of your own, something for yourself.

Really important is contact with neighbours. I.e. 36-year- old woman says: The man next door helped my husband to put the pond in place. If the neighbour has a problem, then my husband helps him. The neighbour’s wife has just begun a computer course. So my husban is often next door helping her if she needs it.

On that example we can see the thanks to neighbourhood we can got help in inmaterial things (babysitting, advice) or in more material matters (borrowing a drill, sharing a car).



- SHADOWTOWN- competition design fo the Railway station area in Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands.


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Bergen op Zoom is a medieval town in the southern part of Netherlands, surrounded by forests, rural hills and Oosterschelde Bay. the main question for that project is how to create new developments without destroying the monuments qualities of the medieval centre. To preserve the character of the old town, the new buildings in and around centre should be like invisible,  closely blending into the urban fabric.



- POMPEIIAN CARPET- urban study for Molensloot, The Hague, The Netherlands


Main question of that subsection is: how are we to densify the monumental urban compositions of the 1930s by Van Eesteren and others without destroying their delicate qualities? The main idea is to keep the same style, i.e. to continue typical three-storey Hague blocks. In turning the existing Hague envelope of three-storey blocks into an allotment garden-like 'carpet' of dwellings, the existing monumental school buildings , also designed by Van, end up surrounded by a three metre high 'plinth'. The monumental composition of the urban space has been preserved.

In this case roof can be regarded as the main facade and window, architecture will manifest itself only through its interior. This chopped urbanism avoids any competitive architectural representation. Every parcellations will be perceived as a coherent whole.


 Sample interiors:


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- TROJAN EXTRUSION- densification study for Rotterdam centre, The Netherlands (1995, Mark Verheijen)



- THE CANTILEVER- 100 apartments for eldery people in Amsterdam-Osdorp, The Netherlands



Descrizione: slab of 100 apartments for 55-plussers marking the end of an old-age services belt, added to the existing arsenals of old-age housing types.

According to Van Eesteren’s tenets there was possible to put only 87 apartments in the slab, so more 13 are left in limbo.

The north-south orientations with width 7,20 m as basic premise. By restricting the number of partitions in the basic (internal) units it was possible to save 7 or 8 per cent of space there, enough to finance the suspended dweelings which cost one and half-times as much.



- Lace- study mobility scenarios in The Netherlands


No matter how hard we keep stimulating public transport, individual means of transports still keep a dominant role in our society. It gives us next questions: which way should we go? Should we to put higher taxes for cars, more expensive petrol? Or maybe is better to go complitelly different way- maybe it’s more plausible to develop energy-saving , relatively quiet car, to solve unpleasant aspects of automobility as energy consumption, pollution and noise.

Moreover, we should to change our thinking about motorways and other roads- intead of building extra motorways, the existing one could be concentrated. Leftover noise zones around these roads are earmarked for development precisely because of their extreme (potential) accessibility.

Good solution is also to make more one-way roads. Configuring the parallel lanes in one-way systems makes for smoother circulation and permits relatively higher speeds, so that the lances can be more fully exploited. It’s also

good idea for predestians- they can cross them more easly and safety.



Analysis of car features according to speeds:



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- NOISE SCAPE- datascape


 Next aspect, which is bound up with infrastructure. Like everyone knows- a surrounding or oversailing shiels dampens all noise. But just how attractive is such a walling-in or tunnel for the road user, for the fire brigade, for the potentials of the site and for the city? Is it possible to develop a relatively open city street that can even include housing?  We have to find a way to solve that problem, we should wish to live without screens and have possibility to sit on the balcony without annouance made by the noise of it’s traffic.

Next in that subsection we can implemented in the topic by investigation of published drawings, like: housing sawas, plans of noise contours and acoustic cave.


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Capitolo- INTERIOR

- The continuous interior


Nowadays, buildings are in closer and closer relations, so that one interior is literally touching the other. We have to pay more attention for the reduced public space between them, because it has consequently lost its innocence and its freedom. Its even becoming a sort of interior. How are we to work within these constraints? Does the notion of the street and the plaza still exist? Or has everything become street or plaza?  Author, who gives that questions, is trying to show that city cannot be studied or notated only in terms of shape or form, not only concentrated on geometry or composition. We should use also social observation, statistics, psychology, organization analyses and so worth to understand this massive plasma and to address or discuss its wide.



Descrizione: IMG_0258The second important topic concluded in this chapter is problem of claustrophobia. The causes of that are many and varied. More importantly, people seem not to be measurable in a way that could be extrapolated into tree dimensional form. To avoid that problem as much as possible we should to use mixed programme of a ‘normal’ town: 30 % dweelings, 15 % offices and workshops, 10 % parking, 5 % retail. The remain 40 % we should use for public space, which we can calles ‘anti-claustrophobic’.











DENSITY-  the amount of avaible space for person;

FLOOR AREA RATIO ( FAR)-  the ratio of the total floors space of a built area to the total size of its lot.