Design Philosophy


MVRDV pursues a fascination for radical, investigative spatial research focusing on the urban landscape, the public realm, and the influence of architecture on the everyday lives of its inhabitants and users. Our research-based approach drives spatial innovation in the fields of architecture, urbanism and landscape design, with a strong focus on the social and environmental integration and impacts of buildings. Research into contextual and site constraints and socio-cultural, economic and environmental issues is processed, tested, evaluated and optimized against the conditions and demands of the brief, and the desires of a client. Each design derives from in-depth analytical research, whilst also challenging existing thinking and seeking optimized and exciting design solutions.


MVRDV’s rational design process, refined across more than 600 projects to date, is shaped by explorations of the statistical spatial data, relating to contexts and constraints, which surrounds the contemporary design process. By understanding and strategically tapping into this data, we create highly informed and specific solutions which not only answer to today’s and tomorrow’s needs, but enable us to simulate future scenarios which in turn question our current perspective, values and behaviour. The fruits of this methodical approach range from product designs to architectural interventions and software programs focused on architectural solutions, participatory planning and large scale urban visions.


Prototyping involves the exploration of multiple design options through extensive design testing to use and upgrade known typological and archetypal solutions. Design is the result of this rigorous iterative process, which allows the highest quality design to emerge through continuous discussion and assessment. MVRDV uses diagrams, visualisations, physical models and numerous other mediums to interrogate the design, the site, the brief, and the client’s wishes.


Our design process, for all scales of project ranging from objects to urban development visions, is deeply collaborative: we operate as a network of specialists in intense cooperation with the client. MVRDV collaborates extensively within the studio through flexible working groups, and externally with numerous advisors and experts, spanning every discipline from sociologists to programmers, engineers and artists. This strong collaborative model strengthens the dialectic  environment in which projects evolve, and is the fundamental basis for excellent design results.

Think Tank

Together with Delft University of Technology,  MVRDV leads The Why Factory, an independent postgraduate research institute and think tank for the future city, founded by Winy Maas in 2008. The Why Factory studies the future of;urban development in a wide range of in-depth research and studio programs, fundamentally questioning current architectural and urban issues and investigating potential alternatives, including everything from collective housing models to new high-rise typologies and the opportunities presented by urban farming.


Clarity is the keystone of MVRDV’s work. Exemplary design solutions allow the public to understand the contribution and message of a project, so that design becomes a democratic and social product; architecture and urban design can directly influence the quality of people’s everyday lives. If the design of our built environments is cohesive, clear and understandable, both in its conception and its realization, the public and the local community can engage with a design, and place value in its quality.


Economy is the driver of MVRDV’s methodology. A design should be the most efficient expression of the conditions under which it is created, whether they be low-cost or high value. Value encompasses the concept of added-value: the added value that good design brings to a product, building or urban environment as a long-term investment for the future. Creating this value requires asking questions such as 'what can a project contribute to its users and context?' and 'what will be the most important aspects of its successful realization?'


Sustainability is more than just hype or smart marketing; it means more than just adding solar panels. Sustainable development has been one of the office’s main agendas since its founding, with the aim to fundamentally respond to our collective responsibility to contribute to our society. It is a holistic concept which stretches far beyond energy-performance to include added-value, resilience, and even the quality of user experience. Quality is the motivation to change habits of consumption; not demanding less consumption but demanding a more intelligent definition of consumption through better and smarter buildings, urban environments and a positive balance between cities and nature. While continuously striving for integrated, intelligent concepts, BREEAM and LEED environmental assessment methods enable us to visualize the performance of our buildings; Marta Pozo Gil, MSc, in-house licensed LEED / BREEAM assessor, interprets specifications and requirements and liaises with our clients, advisors and project teams to achieve the highest sustainability rating possible within the given scope of work.


We are living in an urban age. Cities are the heart of our societies, our cultures and our economies, and yet so many fall short of our expectations. MVRDV approaches our urban future with a progressive ideal: our urban plans offer high quality of life for their residents and users and create added value for their cities. MVRDV’s portfolio consists of 50% long term urban planning projects, ranging from urban designs to visions for regional development; projects in which MVRDV can be involved over decades.