Architecture firm MVRDV's latest ouvre may look like a traditional Dutch farmhouse from afar, but up close you'll find that it's actually a building made of glass. Glass Farm is a new mixed-use retail and office building in the heart of Schijndel in The Netherlands. Architect Winy Maas, founder of MVRDV, grew up in Schijndel and has been campaigning since 1980 to rebuild the town square after it was damaged in WWII. After 7 tries, he finally convinced the town to approve his Glass Farm project, which features images of a traditional farmhouse printed onto glass with fritting technology. The nearly translucent building allows lots of daylight in, glows at night, and marries local vernacular with modern design.
The Glass Farm is a redevelopment of Schijndel’s market square, which was heavily damaged during WWII. MVRDV‘s Winy Maas grew up in Schijndel and in 1980 he proposed redeveloping the market square to fill in a gap that was left between the church, town hall and main street. Over the next 20 years, the architect proposed a total of six designs, one of which included a theatre for the spot – however, they were shot down by the town. Finally his 7th proposal – a mixed-use retail and office project with a wellness centre – was accepted, although not without some opposition and discussion from the town. The reason why the 7th design was accepted is largely because it references the local architecture, including traditional farmhouses from the area.
The design evolved based on the maximum size the town council allowed, which is the area of a traditional Schijndel farm. Using the concept of a traditional farmhouse, the architects at MVRDV worked with artist Frank van der Salm to photograph the remaining farms and average them together to create a stereotypical farmhouse. The morphed image was then printed onto glass using fritting technology to create the building. At 1.6 times the size of the average farmhouse, Glass Farm is a scaled up version that reflects how the town has grown up over the years. It’s designed to evoke a sense of nostalgia, and it may remind adults of their childhood and how things were bigger when they were smaller. During the day, the fritted glass allows daylighting into the interior, which minimizes heat gain. At night the interior lights shine out through the form and show off the building’s printed farmhouse facade.