The Glass Farm in Schijndel, Netherlands

The Glass Farm is a multifunctional building in the village square of Schijndel (Noord-Brabant). The building can be seen as a contemporary response to retro-architecture whilst respecting the public's wish for vernacular authenticity. 23 years after this first initiative the building was completed in 2013.

Schijndel’s market square suffered from Operation Market Garden damages during the Second World War in 1944 and has been subject to numerous enlargements and refurbishments. The square was considered as too big for the village.

Schijndel is the birthplace of Winy Maas. In 1980 the then 20 year old Winy Maas urged the mayor in a letter to fill in the gap between the square and main street. In 2000 the town council adopted the idea of a new structure in the square between the church, town hall and main street. MVRDV since then proposed several options that could fill the gap of this unusually large village square. The Glass Farm was MVRDV’s seventh proposal for the site, earlier designs included a theatre.

The village engaged vividly in the process resulting in heated debates, polls and polemics in the local press - by supporters and adversaries.

The 1600m² building which is entirely covered by a glass facade consists primarily of a series of public amenities such as restaurants, shops and a wellness centre. By coincidence, the maximum envelope that was defined by the town planners had the form of a traditional Schijndel farm.

In collaboration with MVRDV, artist Frank van der Salm photographed all the remaining traditional farms, and from these an image of the ‘typical farm’ was composed. All remaining historical local farms were measured, analysed and an ‘ideal’ average was conceived from this data. This image was printed using fritted procedure onto the 1800m2 glass facade, resulting in an effect such as a stained glass window in a cathedral. The print is more or less translucent depending on the need for light and views. At a height of 14 metres the Glass Farm is intentionally designed out of scale and is 1.6 times larger than a real farm, symbolizing the village growing into a town. The printed image follows this 'augmented history', with the superimposed farm door for example appearing 4 metres tall. When adults interact with the building, they can experience toddler size again, possibly adding an element of nostalgic remembrance to their reception of the building.  

Architectenbureau MVRDV

MVRDV was set up in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) in 1993 by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries. MVRDV engages globally in providing solutions to contemporary architectural and urban issues. Early projects such as the headquarters for the Dutch Public Broadcaster VPRO and housing for elderly WoZoCo in Amsterdam lead to international acclaim. A research based and highly collaborative design method engages experts from all fields, clients and stakeholders in the creative process. The results are exemplary and outspoken buildings, urban plans, studies and objects, which enable our cities and landscapes to develop towards a better future. Current projects include various housing projects in the Netherlands; Villa VPRO, the living complex WoZoCo in Amsterdam and a public library in Spijkenisse. In Japan the Matsudai culturale centre and the Gyre shopping Centre in Japan. The work of MVRDV is exhibited and published world wide and receives international awards.



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