Winy Maas: MVRDV's Pushed Slab block like an "open heart"

Winy Maas: an "open heart" reveals the inner workings of MVRDV's Pushed Slab office block

MVRDV's Winy Maas explains how the hollow centre he created at the heart of a Paris office block allows passersby a privileged view into the movements of a financial services company, in the latest movie from our exclusive series (+ movie).

Pushed Slab by MVRDV
Pushed Slab was first unveiled in November 2014

Completed in 2014, the seven-storey Pushed Slab was the first building to open in a proposed eco-quarter in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. It is occupied by financial services group Banque Populaire Rives de Paris.

The building's most prominent feature is the gaping hole in its middle. This was added by MVRDV to preserve views of another local building beyond, but it also creates space for multi-level terraces and balconies, fronted by large windows.

"When we were asked to make this normal regular office building, we simply pushed it and then there was a great view that goes through," explains Maas in the film.

"The centre part of this building is like an open heart basically, as if you show to the world that bankers, financial people are working there," he continues. "Especially after the crisis, banks were more closed – now there's a tool to imagine their activities."

Pushed Slab by MVRDV

Externally the building is clad with timber. On the north side, the facade is broken up into rows of smoothly curving ribbons, while on the south side these surfaces bend outwards to create sharp angles.

Pushed Slab by MVRDV

In contrast, walls facing into the central opening are largely glazed. External staircases provides routes between levels, while greenery is provided by trees in oversized plant pots.

Pushed Slab by MVRDV

"The open area in the middle is the heart of the bank itself," said Maas. "People can meet each other – when they walk in the corridors, they bend towards this opening and they can meet on these terraces."

"You will notice the explosion of balconies," he added. "It is as if the building, which is covered with small wooden elements, has turned and pushed into this side and then the building is cut off."

Pushed Slab by MVRDV

Maas co-founded MVRDV in 1993, with Nathalie de Vries and Jacob van Rijs. This movie is the fourth in a series profiling the firm's work, which also includes an urban centre in the heart of "business-park suburbia" and a library within a glass pyramid.

Photography is by Philippe Ruault.