Glass Farm


This shop and office complex by Dutch architects MVRDV is disguised as an old farmhouse, but its walls and roof are actually made from glass.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

The building is located in the market square of small Dutch town Schijndel, where MVRDV partner Winy Maas grew up. The town suffered damages during World War II, and Maas has been campaigning since the 1980s to replace a destroyed structure in the space between the church and the town hall.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

Thirty years and six failed proposals later, the architects and the town council agreed to develop the site within the traditional building envelope specified by the town planners.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

MVRDV reinterpreted this volume in glass, then compiled photographs of traditional local farmhouses by artist Frank van der Salm and created a collage of images to apply to each surface of the facade. Using a fritting technique the architects were able to print the images straight onto the glass, creating the illusion of brick walls and a thatched roof.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

The building is out of scale with the original farmhouses, so it appears to be two storeys high rather than three, while visible doors measure at a height of around four metres.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

"When adults interact with the building, they can experience toddler size again, possibly adding an element of nostalgic remembrance to their reception of the building," say the architects.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

The actual windows and doors don't line up with the printed images, so entrances look like they pass through brick walls and windows appear as semi-transparent blobs.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch

The architects explain that the building is "more or less translucent" and at night it is illuminated from the inside to appear as a glowing presence in the square.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

Named Glass House, the building contains shops, restaurants, offices and a health centre.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

MVRDV has completed a number of projects in recent months, including the new Oslo headquarters for Norwegian bank DNB and a public library inside a glass pyramid.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

See more architecture by MVRDV, including the Balancing Barn holiday home.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

Here's a project description from MVRDV:

Completion of MVRDV Glass Farm, Schijndel, Netherlands

Today RemBrand developers, the Town of Schijndel and MVRDV complete the Glass Farm, a multifunctional building in the village square. The building with a total surface area of 1600m2 contains shops, restaurants, offices and a wellness centre. The exterior is printed glass with a collage of typical local farms; a monument to the past but 1,6 times larger than life. This concept can be seen as a contemporary response to retro-architecture whilst respecting the public's wish for vernacular authenticity. In 1944 the small Brabant town of Schijndel which is the birthplace of Winy Maas suffered from WWII Operation Market Garden damages resulting in an oversized market square. In 1980 the then 20 year old Winy Maas urged the mayor to fill in the gap, 23 years after this first initiative the building is now completed.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

Schijndel’s market square suffered from Operation Market Garden damages during the Second World War and has been subject to numerous enlargements and refurbishments. Winy Maas wrote a letter in 1980, and in 2000 the town council adopted the idea of a new structure in the square between the church, town hall and main street. MVRDV since then iteratively proposed new options that could fill the gap of this unusually large village square. The Glass Farm is MVRDV’s seventh proposal for the site, earlier designs included a theatre.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

The village engaged vividly in the process resulting in heated debates, polls and polemics in the local press - by supporters and adversaries. The 1600m² building which is entirely covered by a glass facade consists primarily of a series of public amenities such as restaurants, shops and a wellness centre.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

By coincidence, the maximum envelope that was defined by the town planners had the form of a traditional Schijndel farm. All remaining historical local farms were measured, analyzed and an ‘ideal’ average was conceived from this data. In collaboration with MVRDV, artist Frank van der Salm photographed all the remaining traditional farms, and from these an image of the ‘typical farm’ was composed. This image was printed using fritted procedure onto the 1800m2 glass facade, resulting in an effect such as a stained glass window in a cathedral. The print is more or less translucent depending on the need for light and views.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

At night the structure will be illuminated from the inside, becoming a monument to the farm. At a height of 14 metres the Glass Farm is intentionally designed out of scale and is 1.6 times larger than a real farm, symbolizing the village growing into a town. The printed image follows this 'augmented history', with the superimposed farm door for example appearing 4 metres tall. When adults interact with the building, they can experience toddler size again, possibly adding an element of nostalgic remembrance to their reception of the building. To enhance this further, there will be a table and swing next to the building, a scaled up farmyard.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch

Coinciding with the completion of the building, an exhibition opens in the local Museum Jan Heestershuis about Context and Authenticity. Later this year a book will be published by NAi Publishers exploring the development of the Glass Farm, including a literary description of the lengthy processes which lead to its realisation.

Glass Farm by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch

MVRDV realised the building for RemBrand developers, a combination of Van Den Brand Real Estate and Remmers Construction Group, together with Hooijen Engineers, IOC Ridderkerk for installations, Brakel Atmos for the facade and AGC for the print.

  • Oli

    Nice way to combine tradition and modernism. Would be interesting so see how the building looks at night when it is illuminated inside.

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  • elene

    What a bizzare combination of glass and textures, as if it was a painter’s canvas, not architecture.

  • Mvv

    Too big. Not the size of a real farm. Much too big for the square and for the small village of Schijndel.

    • pvd

      Have you been there? Just been there and it’s actually the perfect size for the square. And that’s not the size of a real farm – that’s just the joke!

  • This is so wrong. Modern interpretation of tradition? It looses everything! Does this mean modern architecture has no haptic, no feeling, no materiality except a non-material glass? Does it mean modern architecture is just an image? It looks like a cheap paper model.

    • Philipp

      Nobody wants this in real size for normal housing. But for this use it’s fine, funny even. It calmly entertains. It’s the right place to make experiments. No need to question architecture itself.

    • sad

      Dude you are missing the point! THIS IS A GREAT PIECE OF ART. If only the windows would be real transparent etc… doesn’t matter. It is in a tradition of good old-school ambiguous MVRDV projects (often lacking substance lately, but not here). I feel so sorry for your lack of understanding.

  • edub

    Night shot, please.

  • joe

    It’s nice to see how modern architecture has grown to outright mock the tradition and culture it’s replacing.

    • amsam

      If you can only see mockery in this I feel sorry for you, mate.

  • recon::decon

    Interesting as a concept, but what exactly is the interior experience of this building going to be like? It seems like it would be a very difficult space for all but a few programs to inhabit. Museum gift shop? Yes. Office? Not so much. Restaurant or retail? A bit of a hard sell with zero street presence. Certainly couldn’t imagine adding the necessary signage to make that plausible.

    I’m also wondering how long it will be before someone busts the glass at the “printed” door. I’m not sure I see the logic behind putting the actual doors in random places that do not align with the “printed” doors.

    • trvdv

      Programming could be rather interesting, I agree. Perhaps this kind of solution will attract the kind of programs/companies/shops that are looking for an alternative to the usual olde-tyme organization. Idiosyncratic and charming – I love the sense of humour. Makes me wonder about the personalities involved in the financing (clients with something in mind beyond leasing real estate). And that the town approved? Great stuff.

  • gringo

    Good idea and well executed but “authentic”? I don’t think so. The writer of the commentary’s claim that it ‘”respects the public’s wish for vernacular authenticity” is ridiculous. Check what authentic means.

  • Alex

    Does this still count as 3D printing? :)

  • Something about this is bl**dy hilarious. MVRDV have a habit of surprising me sometimes, even now, even still.

  • Colonel Pancake

    Even though I’ve lobbied for the UN to place sanctions on MVRDV’s work, I have to admit this is pretty damn nifty.

    I would encourage them to build more of these, particularly ones with clouds on them to cover all their previous buildings.

  • Arnulfo

    Beautifully misleading =)

  • james

    If this doesn't make you smile, you're thinking too hard.

  • Nick

    I can't even imagine the number of birds that'll fly into the illusion of sky reflected by the glass. Not good.

    • morgs96

      I do believe there are other glass buildings in the world already and this doesn’t tend to be a problem.

      • amsam

        Hate to say it but it tends to be a big problem with glass buildings in general – but I can’t see why this one will be any worse than most. Seems it’ll probably be better.

  • Desk

    This was done in a Melbourne house years ago! Not original.

    • morgs96

      Yeah, by Jackson Clements Burrows. Except this is translucent. But basically the same concept. I still like it a lot though.

      • Philipp

        “Everything is a remix.” If you don’t believe it, search for this on Vimeo. It’s a 4-part series about culture.

  • Thanks for the lively discussion and the interest in our building.

    As the interiors are being constructed by the various tennants at this moment we have no images of the illuminated structure yet. They will follow soon.

    The remark about the wish for authenticity refers to the large local production of nostalgic architecture. Authenticity was used in our text in a somehow ironic way. Sorry about the confusion.

  • Chris

    Desk is right. This idea, as with most of MVRDV is totally derivative. The concept was identically deployed in a Melbourne, Australia, house of several years ago, a house which was in fact published widely. Melbourne, it seems, is so “insignificant” that the richness of the local design culture can just be exploited elsewhere without due acknowledgement. This happens so often! The arrogance of European design gets so boring.

    • Bruno de Paris

      Arrogance? Isn’t it just a matter of unease of access and networking because of physical distance? Move Australia closer and you’ll be in the game :) BTW, isn’t Australia applying sort of protectionist policies? I personally love Australia.

  • 2nd Year Student

    Utterly ridiculous. Firstly, an entirely glazed building in that climate is the most irresponsible thing an architect could do. The energy needed to heat it for just one day would be vast; let alone the decades that modern buildings should be designed sustainably for.

    The design is horribly one dimensional. Yes it may make half-wits smile the first time they see it but there is nothing beyond the ugly printed facade. Even worse the space created inside is so stupidly dark it’s surely unusable without artificial light aka more energy.

    I agree that this has been done before too and a thousand times better. It may be Sean Godsell who people are thinking of? His largely glass building are also unsustainable but they do suit their climate better, are often clad in elegant materials and it can be argued the light let in outweighs the heat let out.

    MVRDV have done none of this and simply mocked what appears to be beautiful vernacular architecture. It’s a lifeless building; dark, untextured and so unbelievably narrow-minded and one-dimensional it’s utterly mind boggling. Do they dislike real materials so much they have to print them for 10 times the price?! So so stupid. I could go on and on.

    • amsam

      Oh please do. Please go on and on and on and on and on.

      • dont be a jerk

        Amsam, make your point. Stop replying to others in a witless manner, or if you do continue please be funny at least. A knock knock joke perhaps?

    • JMiletic

      I agree. There is no point in using glass unless for transparency.

      • Fjallrav

        Really? I disagree. There are many reasons to use glass other than for tranparency. This facade just might not be one of them!

  • Ned

    The concept might be the same but the execution is completely different to the Melbourne house. I like both of them.

  • Ralph Martin

    This is a reinterpretation of a historical archetype in a modern era with the materiality of our current existential architectural materiality. More of a postmodern art exhibition than a purist modern philosophy of form follows function.

    • Will Tonos

      I agree with this. The building itself may not be LEED certified but it does have an exhibition feeling to it. It’s something I’ve never seen before, something MVRDV has continuously done over the years, they push the boundaries on a limited budget.

      Causing a commotion in the architectural community isn’t alway a bad thing, it can produce new discourses not discussed before. For me, the Dutch firm is spectacular and awe inspiring. At the same time, they relate everything back to context. These guys do architecture.

  • Desk

    Don’t get me wrong – I love the idea and the execution of this glass farm project has certainly pushed it much further. But perhaps originators of ideas should be acknowledged, unless you claim to totally know nothing about that house by Jackson Clements Burrows. Architects should put disclaimers in their write ups. Something like, “though not an original idea… The resultant is a further exploration in…”

  • Erlend

    I see the critical comments get the most negative votes. One would think it’s people who worked on the project voting tirelessly to prove whatever point to themselves. Makes me kinda sad.

  • MHorchin

    As a mechanical engineer and sustainability consultant I can say that this is the most inefficient architectural design I have seen so far. It will require a tremendous amount of energy to keep it in a livable temperature range in the winter, since it has no roof or walls, and in the summer it will become a greenhouse trapping excessive amounts of thermal energy from the sun. Awful! Save some energy and turn the lights inside at night instead of turning this awful building it into “a monument to the farm.”

  • As a reply to these points:

    We don’t know the Melbourne house, sorry. The glass is of such high performance quality that the snow stays on the roof until sun hits the roof and it starts to melt. And the vote is not influenced by us – have a look at our other buildings’ comments.

    People might actually like this one :)

    • 3rd yr student

      Of course you didn’t know. You are always so innocent! This time MVRDV didn’t know about the Melbourne house. A year ago they did not notice that their Cloud had a similar appearance to the collapsing twin towers.

      I’m sick and tired of these architects making the world we live in into a joke. This building is the worst example of postmodernism so far.

  • Actually, I found the project such a good replay to “how architects have been doing their jobs in the old center”. Take care about the context printing it on the facades of the building. Well, it surprised me. Before judging, at least, we should wait how they decide to build the inside shops. Perhaps they have thought the glass as only an evelope, more or less as a glass box.

  • dan

    The hardest part of designing this was the photomerge, obviously.

  • J van Mechelen

    A lot of to-do about nothing.

  • Emma

    Yes, Jackson Clements Burrows did a glass building with an image of a house facade printed onto it. Yes it was before this building, and yes there isn’t a single building that Jackson Clements Burrows have designed from scratch without directly ripping off the design from a Dutch modern architecture book.

    Don’t be so concerned who was the originator of designs, you may be disappointed. Has this example by MVRDV been executed well? Yes… then congratulations to them for winning such a commission and producing what they have.

  • sd

    I love it. Nice to see a brilliant move from MVRDV.

  • Jon Seward

    I think this building works very well and will be interested to see how it is occupied and used, and how it performs over time. It occupies an historic envelope and carries over the visual impression of archaic materials, but is rendered without apology in modern material and construction techniques. I think the disjunction and overlay of past and present is what makes the building such an impressive project – you look at it and feel the tension of being in two times simultaneously. This reminds me of the photographic fritting of the Cologne Dom onto a new office tower in their telecom district, which I also found very engaging and successful.

  • Great idea, great history and story to tell. Makes me want to go see it!

  • blah

    Witty as F$#K, love it.

  • MVRDV architects applied a “why not” approach to resolve an old problem. Should business consider “why not” thinking?

  • Whilst MVRDV’s concept is very similar to our past project (Jackson Clements Burrows “Old House” 2005) they don’t need to acknowledge us particularly if they were not even aware of it (referring to Jan’s response).

    Our project followed Cassandra Fahey’s Newman House/Pamela Anderson House and we have always acknowledged the fact that Cassandra’s project provides an important part of the story that influenced the concept for the “Old House”. Both Cassandra’s project and our project were located in Melbourne and they both had to undergo a complex planning approval process. The “Old House” explored a very different position which intended to provide subtle commentary on our local planning approval process and more particularly the local heritage controls through an ironic architectural gesture.

    Taking into consideration the digital world that we now operate in, it is my opinion there is very little room left for original architectural ideas in the purist sense. We are constantly bombarded on an almost daily basis by images of architecture, blogs and more images of architecture and it is almost impossible not to take interest in or to be influenced by the work of other architects in the process of exploration. And for those who are in denial I would suggest that the influence is probably subconscious.

    Emma’s comment that “there isn’t a single building that Jackson Clements Burrows have designed from scratch without directly ripping off the design from a Dutch modern architecture book” is a particularly naive swipe that is perhaps reflective of Emma’s intellect considering that many of our projects wouldn’t stand a chance in the Netherlands climate!

    Emma is entitled to her opinion and the rest of you can judge for yourself at <a href="” target=”_blank”>

    Congratulations to MVRDV for delivering another excellent and contentious project that appears to have involved successful community engagement.

  • Sultony

    What does MVRDV mean? I sort of worked it out that it is some of the initials of the three partners, but this may be endemic of the intended confusion that abounds in their work.

    Picking up on some of the excellent comments made, first: this is not art – it is a building. Secondly, it is not reflecting the “digital age” as though we have just discovered what we can do with printing techniques. It is not a farm. Buildings are made of materials that express the intended function of the building.

    People will come here to shop, to eat and exercise. They do not wish (I imagine myself visiting the place) to be deceived, tricked or deluded into thinking the building is one thing when it is another. To admit it was one way of getting round the planners is to admit defeat.

    Lastly, buildings should not be made of glass for very obvious reasons – energy loss, maintenance and safety. It is an unfriendly material that is used at the behest of architects’ egos. Read Pallasmaa’s The Eyes of the Skin where he says: “The increasing use of reflective glass in architecture reinforces the dreamlike sense of un-reality and alienation”.

  • The interior shots remind me of zooming as far in as possible to the interior of a SketchUp model, with the one-dimensional photo images of the wall and roof materials reversed on the exterior, complete with the thick black edge marks of the various surface shapes. MVRDV has brought this lo-tech experience to life.

  • It is a valuable concept, but this project is way closer to be sculpture than architecture since is designed to be an atractive facade setting apart the inner space. May it be a slight reminiscence of vernacular architecture, but still can’t escape the boundaries of simple image, an icon, a cold representation. Not to mention the high project protagonism at night given by the inner lighting. Way to blatant considering the surroundings…

  • Annie Vu

    This looks so superficial and fake to me.

  • Turbosloth

    Don’t throw stones.