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MVRDVHNI The Living Archive of a Studio

MVRDVHNI The Living Archive of a Studio
Foto Petra van der Ree

MVRDVHNI: The Living Archive of a Studio explores the archive of architecture office MVRDV. Het Nieuwe Instituut displays the MVRDV archive as a living entity in office spaces, rather than in museum galleries. As a working environment, the office is the place where ideas and projects move fluidly back and forth between present, past and future.

Based on three recurring themes – green, human, and dream – the exhibition highlights more than 400 projects from MVRDV's archive. In addition, HNI offers a glimpse of the renowned firm's working methods with drawings, sketches, models and other archive materials. The exhibition, on HNI's sixth floor, overlooks one of the MVRDV's much-discussed recent designs – the new Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen.

Aric Chen, HNI General and Artistic Director says, 'This exhibition sheds light on the dynamic workings of one of the most innovative architecture studios today, and how a dialogue between the firm, its archive, researchers, and others can further enrich our understanding of the possibilities of architectural practice.'

The exhibition gives a glimpse behind the scenes of both MVRDV and HNI, displaying a wealth of material and information from analogue and digital archives. Visitors get an insight into the design processes leading up to the realisation of buildings such as Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Markthal in Rotterdam. Material from the MVRDV archives ranges from early sketches and models to correspondence with engineers and contractors. In parallel, Het Nieuwe Instituut illustrates how it manages the MVRDV archive, from metres of shelves containing models, drawings and documents, to the digital infrastructure required to unlock a digital archive.

'This exhibition shows how our first 400 projects influenced later work,' says MVRDV partner Jan Knikker. 'We think it’s important that our archive is accessible to everyone. Sharing knowledge makes our profession richer, which is why the HNI curators regularly worked in our offices during the preparations. I also think that this exhibition provides depth to people who visit Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen that we designed. It’s not a coincidence that the exhibition opens on the same day.'

The MVRDV archive is the first extensive collection largely consisting of digital files in the national collection at HNI. The exhibition explores the opportunities and possibilities this offers for the management, accessibility, and use of the archive.


MVRDV Archive at Het Nieuwe Instituut

In 2015, Het Nieuwe Instituut, the national heritage institution for architecture, design and digital culture, began acquiring the MVRDV archive. This is more than the archive of an iconic architecture office. MVRDV also offers an example of a multidisciplinary working method, through which it develops various forms of knowledge. In addition, the archive consists mainly of digital material, which presents Het Nieuwe Instituut with new challenges concerning archive management and accessibility, but which also offers opportunities for a different relationship to heritage.

Explore the Archive

MVRDVHNI invites you to explore the archive and engage with the materials. The exhibition brings the archive to life by adding new stories to its history and by developing new instruments for making the material accessible.

In addition to the exhibition, an accompanying programme explores various themes in MVRDV’s work and the issues surrounding keeping (digital) archives.

Six new tools for a digital archive

In addition to the exhibition, Het Nieuwe Instituut has invited six designers to develop tools to search, visualise, and utilise the immense digital archive through specific criteria. It could take months to search through all the documents for a specific item in the kilometre-long physical archive, but this can be done in just a few seconds in the digital archive. A special video game was designed for the exhibition, allowing players to interactively explore the digital archive.

The tools have been developed by Alice Bucknell, MVRDV NEXT, Namelok, Giacomo Nanni & Francesca Morini, Carl Rethmann, Johannes Schwartz, and Eline Wieland / WielandStudio


An early sketch of the Villa VPRO. Image: © MVRDV

An early sketch of the Villa VPRO. Image: © MVRDV


International architectural firm MVRDV, based in Rotterdam, offers contemporary solutions for architecture, urban planning, and landscape architecture around the world. Architects Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries jointly founded MVRDV in 1993, and it now operates on the cutting edge of architecture and urban development. The firm distinguishes itself through innovative designs on both small and large scales and is known for projects including Expo 2000, Silodam, Markthal, and Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, opening to the public on 6 November 2021. As MVRDV NEXT, the firm develops innovative digital working methods and new technologies.

Van 6 november 2021 12.00 uur tot 4 september 2022 17.00 uur
Het Nieuwe Instituut
+31 104 401 200
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam

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