Glass Farm

Schijndel’s market square suffered badly from damages during the Second World War and has been subjected to numerous enlargements and refurbishments. In 1980, a 25-years-old Winy Mass wrote a letter to the municipality proposing the idea of a new structure in the square between the church, town hall and main street, and in the year 2000, the town council finally accepted.

The Glass Farm was the seventh proposal of MVRDV in a large range of options, which have included a theater and various other facilities. The villagers engaged vividly with the process, resulting in heated debates, polls and polemics in the local press – both by supporters and adversaries of the plan. The 1600 square meters building is entirely covered by a glass facade and include series of public amenities such as restaurants, shops and a wellness center.

Photography of Persbureau van Eijndhoven

Photography of Persbureau van Eijndhoven

By coincidence, the maximum envelope that was defined by the town planners had the form of a traditional Schijndel farmhouse. All of the remaining farms of this type were measured, analyzed and an ‘ideal’ average was developed from the data“, explains MVRDV.

Photography of Persbureau van Eijndhoven

Photography of Persbureau van Eijndhoven

The artist Frank van der Salm photographed the historic buildings and from these a collage of the ‘typical farm’ was composed. The image was printed using fritted procedure onto the glass facade, 1.6 times larger than a real farm, resulting in an effect similar to stained glass windows in a cathedral. The print varies in translucency depending requirements for light and views. At night the structure is illuminated from the inside, a monument to the traditional farmhouse.  The printed image follows this ‘augmented history’, with the superimposed farm door appearing 4 meters tall for example, symbolizing the village’s growth into a town. This created interaction of the adults with the building, making them once again in the size of a small child in relation to the building, adding an element of nostalgic remembrance to their experience.

Courtesy of MVRDV

Courtesy of MVRDV

In June 2013, MVRDV launched, ‘The Glass Farm: Biography of a Building’, a book chronicling the long history of the Glass Farm’s design and construction (initially in Dutch). The book poses the question ‘Why on earth did the architect design this?’, answered through a series of stories written by journalists about the ups and downs and decisions and compromises in realizing the building.

Project Information:
Architect : MVRDV
Location : Schijndel, The Netherlands
Project Year : 2008-2013
Project Area : 1600.0 square meters
Design Team : Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries withFrans de Witte and Gijs Rikken
Structure : Hooijen Konstruktiebureau, Tilburg, The Netherlands
Facade : Brakel Atmos, Uden, The Netherlands
Glass Printing : AGC Mirodan, Heule, Belgium

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