Het Nieuwe Instituut has acquired a collection of scale models made by the office of architecture MVRDV. This collection will be included in the State Archive of Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning. MVRDV's digital archive has already been transferred last year. At the beginning of next year the paper archive will follow. Het Nieuwe Instituut has begun research into the selection, description and retrieval of MVRDV's scale models. The collection starts from their founding year in 1993 and consists of more than 300 scale models made between 1993 up till 2003.
The collection includes some renowned projects which have been presented at exhibitions in the past or been published, such as the presentation models of Eyebeam and the Brabant Library of the Expo Pavilion. Digging deeper however, some interesting discoveries have been made: such as the amazing sketch models, in all forms and sizes, which have not been shown to the public yet. A large part of MVRDV's scale models were primarily used for study during the process of designing. Most of the scale models are made of blue foam but there are also cardboard, plastic, synthetic resin and 3D printed models. Together with the digital and paper archive, the scale models document MVRDV's highly experimental method of development and design. Their paper, digital and scale model archives give an interesting perspective into the way they realized their innovative projects. While some scale models still need identifying, further selection is taking place now.
Point of reference
MVRDV has become one of the important points of reference in Dutch architecture of the last decennia, making the acquisition of its collection for the State Archive of Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning an obvious must. The archive tells the history of the office itself and at the same time, it tells the larger tale of the general development in architecture from the nineties up till now. The impact of globalization and digitization on architecture for instance, the changing role of the architect and the impact of architectural policy are represented in many projects of MVRDV. Innovation and experimentation on important issues such as population density, sustainability and mobility are especially illustrative of MVRDV. Their scale models can also be found in other museums, such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Pinakothek der Moderne in München. Encompassing more than the results of specific projects, the collection at het Nieuwe Institute represents MVRDV's body of work. Next to the more visually enticing models, sketch models are included which give detailed information on MVRDV's design process.
Driven by research
Since its founding, MVRDV has made thousands of models, most of which ended up in the dustbin. Even though they worked with digital means from the start, scale and sketch models were central to MVRDV's communication and design in the office. MVRDV is a research driven: during the design process an enormous amount of variants are tried and tested. These variants are made with models, usually blue foam, together with software programs such as Roxit or Autocad. The scale models are intertwined with MVRDV's digital archive. They have always combined digital and analog design, interacting between the two to realize the design: sometimes the models are a 'reality check' of the digital drawing or rendering, sometimes models or photos of models are used in animations or other digital presentations.
Stacked tiled and 3D-printed models
Sanne van der Burgh, project leader at MVRDV, sees 'a scale model as a fireplace you can gather around' (source: Architectenweb). The advantage of a physical model is, above all, its communicative power. Even though everything can be drawn 3D on the computer, MVRDV have always found it useful to make physical models. After all, only the person who has actually drawn the virtual model knows how the design is constructed. A scale model is easier for everyone to understand and offers a better way to discuss the design together. During design sessions and meetings with clients at MVRDV, models are deconstructed and constructed again, parts cut off and stuck on again. The archive does show an decline in scale models, however, once the office increasingly began working all-digital. At first the digital drawing supported the model but later it became the other way round. Interestingly, in the latter years, the office did start to invest more in physical scale models again. These models are not made of blue foam however but of stacked, 'lazered' tiles or 3D printed models. Still, the advantage of a physical model, whatever the material, remains its communicative power.
Text by Suzanne Mulder, historian of architecture and curator heritage