The Why Factory by MVRDV and Richard Hutten


Dutch architects MVRDV and designer Richard Hutten have completed a research facility within a courtyard at the Delft University of Technology.

Called The Why Factory, the project comprises a three-storey orange structure housing lecture halls, meeting rooms and research facilities.

Steps up the side allow it to be used as an auditorium.

Furniture surrounding this structure was designed by Hutten to allow the surrounding space to be transformed and used for research, as an exhibition space or for lectures.

The project has been awarded the LAi prize 2009.

Here's some more information from Richard Hutten:



The new think tank ‘The Why Factory’ at the Faculty of Architecture at the Delft University of Technology was awarded with the LAi prize 2009. The orange Tribune is designed by MVRDV, the flexible furniture by Richard Hutten. The Why Factory, an initiative of Delft University’s Faculty of Architecture and MVRDV, researches urban futures and is lead by Winy Maas.

During the opening event a series of prominent speakers will discuss the future city and Winy Maas will give his inaugural address as professor at TU Delft.

After a fire destroyed their premises, The Why Factory and the faculty of architecture of Delft University moved into the former main building of the university. An interior courtyard was created and designated as the new residence of The Why Factory. MVRDV designed the three floor tall wooden structure, containing lecture halls, meeting rooms and the premises of the research institute. An auditorium stair climbs to the top, literally putting the students on top of their teachers.

The colors of the tribune and the furniture was decided by both Richard Hutten and MVRDV.

The structure distinguishes itself by its bright orange colour which clearly identifies The Why Factory as an independent research centre within the Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology. Designer Richard Hutten designed flexible furniture to allow the space around the tribune to switch function between research hall, lecture hall and exhibition space.

Posted on Monday November 30th 2009 at 12:13 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Very good project. Looks very flexible and interesting.

  • Guido

    It’s queensday all year now!

  • Interesting multifunctional space. You can tell it’s Dutch, colors selection really works against the neutral surrounding brick.

  • shreyank


  • pranav

    WHY? Orange candy

  • calle

    This is as explicit a project can be – love it!

  • Erik


  • So simple, so monochrome : white is japan color of design, orange is dutch color…

  • modular

    I like it, yet I think that the orange makes the ambience pretty uncomfortable.

  • The interesting point if the multifuntionality of the space and how eevrything seems to fall into place, the stairs as the auditoruim seating and the furniture doubling up as lecture spaces or classdesks..
    I am a fan!

  • tanya telford – T

    i like this multi functional space, the only thing im not really so keen on is the structure of the wall they have built, and perhaps the ceiling (can’t see it so well). For me, i would have liked it more if the layout of the glass wall had followed or echoed in some way the proportions of the windows of the surrounding buildings,

  • Is that why they make orange uniforms for prisoners. Only see orange once a year and that’s enough for me! Doesn’t feel “friendly” !

  • No modular, they are confortable with this color, see the t shirt of dutch students, designers, architectes….

  • fran

    I wonder if anybody has noticed that you CAN’t reach the upper level (for security reason’s or something)……
    So : giant stars that lead to a forbidden place ….so poetic

  • Hans

    I like the space but this orange color is an enemy

  • c

    does anybody know why there is a fence in the top of the tribune?

  • kk

    The project would be much more interesting if the giant stairs actually connect the ground floor to the second floor (through an existing window or something)… many poster seems to forget that actually the rooms underneath the stairs is the most frequently used space (for crits/ studio session/…) and actually the giants isn’t so much at use in reality

  • like the tables and the rack – the rest is like the first thing you will sketch up when working in a dutch office – would say the pyramid almost comes as a reflex – works though…

  • Milan

    I study at this school, and I can tell you, the students love the free space, but the mountain is hated very much.. It’s very uncomforting…

    @c: there is a fence in the top of the tribune because otherwise people could start practicing spiderman skills on the roof truss…

  • R

    @c: that is because the project has been made in the void of the architectural office and the brain of Winny and did not incorporate the actual location, that is: space, height, texture, context etc. The fence is to prevent people from bumping their head on the steel structure of the roof.

  • Samantha

    It would do my head in

  • sg

    yes… rah rah, its great…everybody loves it…
    Putting in enough outlets would’ve been nice… long cables stretched to the theater seating seems like a hazard.
    Will that pyramid ever seriously fill up, three storeys seems excessive. an orange floor and furniture, flexible indeed. does it really take a designer?… maybe, but does it deserve an award?
    everyone loves it. I dont, im entitled to my openion.

  • As an real-life experience the orange ‘stairway to heaven’ is not used at all by students during the week. Only at special events the stairs are used, mostly only until the 10th step.

    Most importantly it is designed by Winy Maas and his new ‘professorship’ does not help the faculty at all. All he does is collect a new title ‘Professor’ and a great deal of money for the spare moments he actually comes to the faculty. The poor students of the Why Factory (WHY GOD WHY?) are being teached by a surrogate Winy Maas. The aggressive and uncomfortable orange is the last thing I worry about when I see this thoughtless design.

    People abroad, please stop adoring Winy Maas and his MVRDV as the messiah for a new architecture. Be a little more critical, especially when it comes to the Dutch.

  • ned

    As someone who works every day in the space…there is a fence at the top as it is just a void for the room underneath…it isnt a workable space, so the fence is to stop people falling through (there is no throne for Winy up there, promise!)

    Also, the space and furniture arn’t flexible, but mainly due to us (students) not being allowed to move it, and it is an incredibly noisy space (with such a huge volume and no acoustically absorbent material).


  • Pieter Vermeer

    Its my daily work space, as an architecture student of the TU in Delft. Although the orange might be beautiful, its not the most neutral color to be working in for 8 hours a day….


  • ae

    I visited this project just last week.
    It did seem quite vibrant in its usage and quite refreshing.

  • AngerOfTheNorth

    Sorry to be boring, but was I the only person to immediately think "I hope they've got plenty of sound buffers/dampeners in the roof space"..? If that floor is hard, they'll have a lot of noise bouncing off of the brick walls and floors surely?

    Either way it's an interesting design, but not one I'd want to work in. Too open and exposed and as Pieter says, the colour's hardly relaxing.

    And Wladimir's right, MVRDV aren't as great as you might think. I've seen a number of their projects which are a few years old now and they appear to be designed to look great on a website without enough attention paid to making them enjoyable to use or long-lasting.

    • I visited a seminar in this space a few weeks ago. The acoustics at the bottom of the space are fine, but I was seated right at the top for part of the construction and I could hardly hear what was being said, even though a microphone was being used. The reflections from the ceiling, but in particular the noise from the installations simply masked the speech.

  • jared

    Can anyone tell me what type of table and chairs are used in this facility?