- Interview with Jacob van Rijs, MVRDV. Part 1, Italy
So we've decided to start in tone with the setting - Italy - the design competition for the "Flagship Factory". This is to be the new headquarters of S. Pellegrino, renowned Italian soft drink and mineral water business, now a brand of the Nestlé group, in San Pellegrino Terme (BG).
The project by MVRDV, overseen by Winy Maas, and the other three proposals (BIG, Snøhetta, aMDL - link news), have generated a media frenzy. A media result that even has Jacob scratching his head: “We're not used to so much coverage during the competition phase. We're astonished - in a positive way - by how many reactions we're getting, even from friends and colleagues who are writing to us about it.”
Who knows if it's the name of the famous Italian mineral water, associated throughout the world with the excellence of Italy's food and drink, or if it's because the initiative is by a large multinational that is seeking to re-launch the spa location. What we do know is that the project by MVRDV will set up a deep relationship between territory and architecture and showcasing the brand as well. “A Star is Born” is the slogan alluding to the brand's famous star and the shape of part of the building. The architecture firm briefly describes a design approach that combines an eye-catching look with lots of attention and respect for the landscape and urban setting of San Pellegrino Terme.
The proposed building is commensurate with the scale of the nature around it, the visual dialogue is well-balanced and much is made of the actual work area. The current façade of the factory is open where possible fostering the connection with the natural context and the visitors who can see what happens inside. The MVRDV project communicates the great expressive force that is the typical of the Dutch firm's work, but here it has been refined. Because, as Jacob van Rijs says, the “sense of place” is very strong in Italy and therefore requires a special response, at the same time retaining the design themes dear to MVRDV, here proposed in response to a highly recognisable global brand.
To date, the competition committee and the scientific coordinator of the jury Luca Molinari, curator of SpazioFMG per l'architettura - the Milan-based gallery and showroom of Iris FMG - has shortlisted the competition to two projects, one by BIG and the other by MVRDV.
We'll keep you informed about this competition; it will be decided in January 2017 and for the first time it could bring MVRDV to Italy, where Jacob confirms he has received a great welcome: “I'm always amazed at how much interest there is in Italy for our conferences and for architecture in general. The classrooms and halls are always full and the media is also very responsive.”
When we tried to tell him that MVRDV is considered to be on a par with the archistars, here in the “team” version and not just an individual like in the past, and that they are definitely writing the story of contemporary architecture, Jacob boggles us with a sincere, open smile. As if he were saying, ok it's great to be up there at the top but we needn't get on our high horse, with remarkable modesty and openness.
In the next parts, Jacob van Rijs will talk to us about India and about designing for communities, about creativity and about the importance of communicating architecture on the web.
Homepage: Kantoor_MVRDV_©Ossip - (c) Ossip van Duivenbode
Rendering: courtesy MVRDV