Completed in 1997, the Villa VPRO Headquarters was the first realized project by MVRDV architecture firm. The proposal departs from traditional cellular office environments by inviting occupants to transition seamlessly from one floor to the next through an undulating and stepped concrete landscape. MVRDV’s revolutionary approach was informed by an ambitious brief and employees’ desire for the perfect work environment.
Villa VPRO Technical Information
- Architects1: MVRDV
- Location: Mediapark, Hilversum, The Netherlands
- Client: PRO Broadcasting Corporation
- Topics: Concrete in Architecture, Commercial, Offices
- Area: 10,500 m2
- Budget: €10 Million
- Project Year: 1995-1997
- Photographs: © Rob ‘t Hart
The question that became central to the design of Villa VPRO was whether the informal and flexible use of the old villas, which undeniably influenced the programs that were made in them, could be translated into a modern office designed for maximum efficiency.– MVRDV Architects
Villa VPRO Headquarters Photographs
Text by the Architects
In 1997, the VPRO moved from its former premises, a group of 13 villas, to the new ‘Villa VPRO.’ Over the years, the villas had played a vital role in establishing the VPRO’s identity. The staff, who had previously worked in en-suite rooms, attics, sun lounges, and on the first floors, were tasked with adapting to a ‘real’ office environment.
The question that became central to the design of Villa VPRO was whether the easy and flexible use of the old villas, which undeniably influenced the programs that were made in them, could be translated into a modern office designed for maximum efficiency. In other words, would ‘informality’ be able to survive the increase in scale? Was there any point in retaining the villa as a metaphor?
The VPRO headquarters – the so-called Villa VPRO – can be described using terms such as compactness (absence of long corridors) and spatial differentiation (a large number of different rooms) and in terms of its relationship to the landscape around it.
Given the present town-planning restrictions on the site – zoning plan boundaries and maximum building heights – compactness has led to ‘the deepest office building in the Netherlands.’ ‘Precision void bombing’ has produced serpentine-like patios in the building, which allow the access of natural light to be combined with views over the surroundings.
The result is an open-plan office where the difference between inside and outside is vague. The greenery that stood where the building now stands has been replaced with a raised grass-covered roof under which lies a ‘geological formation’ of different floors. These floors are connected by spatial devices such as ramps, stepped levels, monumental steps, and small rises, thus providing a route to the roof.
The structure of Villa VPRO, floors supported by a grid of columns and stabilizing props, ensures that rooms retain the highest possible transparency. Technical facilities are hidden in the hollow floor, whose Spartan character serves as a commentary on the addictive aspects of present-day air-conditioning installations. The levels are fed with air, data, and electricity through semi-transparent shafts.
The differences in height in the resulting continuous interior, combined with the wings created by the gaps, make possible a wide range of work contexts in different office typologies to meet the ever-changing demands imposed by VPRO’s business.
Lounge, attic, hall, patio, and terrace types all serve to echo the old premises.
Villa VPRO Headquarters Plans
Villa VPRO Headquarters Image Gallery
MVRDV is a Rotterdam, Netherlands-based architecture and urban design practice founded in 1993. The name is an acronym for the founding members: Winy Maas (1959), Jacob van Rijs (1964), and Nathalie de Vries (1965).
Other works from MVRDV
- Team: Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries with Stefan Witteman,Alex Brouwer, Joost Glissenaar, Arjan Mulder, Eline Strijkers, Willem Timmer, Jaap van Dijk, Fokke Moerel, Joost Kok