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A Man With a Green Plan

Winy Maas and MVRDV's project "The Valley"

In contrast to the dull, concrete aesthetic that has become synonymous with urban living, the Dutch architect and urban planner Winy Maas, co-founder of the renowned architectural firm MVRDV (an abbreviation of the surnames of the architects Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, and Nathalie de Vries), has risen in popularity for his out-of-the-box ideas that challenge traditional notions of urban densification by creating multi-purpose, user-defined spaces with an emphasis on greenery. MVRDV’s project, “The Valley”, led by Winy Maas, in the Amsterdam Zuidas area perfectly embodies their commitment to an urban future of improved livability by emphasising greenery.

The Valley, a mixed-use development, is not just a collection of buildings but exemplifies Maas’s belief that urbanisation can coexist harmoniously with nature. Maas’s approach to architecture reflects a commitment to finding innovative solutions that prioritise density and greenery in a world grappling with the challenges of rapid urbanisation and climate change.

The development consists of three interconnected towers—the Canyon, the Plateau, and the Slopes. Each tower serves a specific function and contributes to the project’s overall sustainability and aesthetic appeal. The Canyon, with its iconic design resembling a deep gorge, houses luxurious residential spaces. The Plateau, a sleek and modern structure, is dedicated to office spaces, focusing on fostering a dynamic, modern work environment. Lastly, with its terraced gardens, the Slopes Tower serves as a green oasis within the urban jungle, offering recreational spaces and abundant greenery.

One of the key features of “The Valley” is its commitment to incorporating green spaces at various levels. The Slopes tower, in particular, showcases MVRDV’s dedication to integrating nature into the built environment. Terraced gardens along the exterior of the building create not only a striking visual spectacle and provide residents and visitors with opportunities to connect with nature in an otherwise concrete landscape.

Maas’s emphasis on greenery goes beyond mere esthetic landscaping—sustainability is integral to his design. The vegetation is natural insulation, reducing the buildings’ energy consumption and mitigating the urban heat island effect. Additionally, including green spaces promotes biodiversity and improves air quality, creating a healthier and more livable urban environment and a more diverse city skyline. 

Beyond “The Valley,” Maas’s work reflects a broader commitment to reimagining urban spaces. MVRDV’s portfolio includes projects that challenge the conventional boundaries of architecture, for example, the renowned Market Hall in Rotterdam and the innovative Sky Garden in Seoul. Each project has a consistent thread of pushing the limits, experimenting with form and function, and prioritising sustainability.

In a world where the concrete city jungle often overshadows the green, Winy Maas and MVRDV stand as pioneers, proving that a balance between density and greenery is possible and essential for the well-being of our cities and the planet. Winy Maas’s green plan is not just about architecture; it’s a vision for a more harmonious relationship between humanity and the built environment.

Hannah Keevers
Hannah Keevers
Hi! I'm a first-year Human Geography and Planning bachelor student and joined Girugten in 2023. My areas of interest are sustainability, transportation, and pretty much anything to do with urban living.
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