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Crack open a geode and a crystalline, luminous world reveals itself inside an unassuming rock. Crack open an apartment complex? Behind the sleek glass facades characteristic of contemporary residential towers, Dutch architects MVRDV and developer Edge have conjured textured and dramatically jagged inner topographies — a high-rise landscape reminiscent of a craggy rock cliffside. In Amsterdam, the innovative mixed-use complex Valley playfully evokes a sort of geode in reverse, offering a pixelated counterpoint to the glazed rectilinear forms that increasingly define dense urban living.

The 75,000-square-metre project comprises three residential towers rising from a shared commercial base. A variety of retailers — including cafés, restaurants and a Molteni&C flagship — animate the street level, while the seven podium storeys are mostly occupied by offices, and 200 apartments are spread across the three towers above. From the ground floor, a staircase weaves up the podium levels to a publicly accessible “grotto” atrium that will house an innovation hub for young scientists. Dubbed the Sapiens Lab, the space is slated to open in late 2023 and will combine elements of a museum, laboratory and workshop, all dedicated to providing both students and the public a window into biodiversity.

It’s super-interesting graphically.
Meg Graham, AZ Awards 2023 Juror

Across the three tower volumes, each of the 200 homes features a bespoke layout, with interior design by Heyligers Architects. And while the suites accommodate a broad range of lifestyles and households, the equally varied facades are carefully configured to provide both privacy and ample natural light. MVRDV’s technology experts developed custom digital tools to optimize light and views, as well as to guide the precise application of the more than 40,000 varying stone tiles that adorn the seemingly randomized — and organic — facades.

Landscape design by Piet Oudolf and DeltaVorm Groep introduces 271 trees and some 13,500 additional plantings to the setting, a total of more than 220 plant species. In addition, Oudolf developed a new matrix to confirm the right plants for each location throughout the complex, collating factors including wind, sunlight, temperature and maintenance requirements. While larger trees are clustered across the lower levels, smaller plantings frame the upper balconies. A series of bird- and bat-boxes (as well as “insect hotels”) ensures biodiversity across the site, which is maintained by an automated irrigation system. As the greenery gradually matures, it will frame the area with a lush, living landscape.

Team: Winy Maas with Piet Oudolf; DeltaVorm Groep; Heyligers Architects; Inbo; BBN adviseurs; Van Rossum Raadgevende Ingenieurs; Deerns; DWA; DGMR and Arup

Winner: Multi-Unit Residential Buildings
People’s Choice: Multi-Unit Residential Buildings
Valley

Merging architecture and landscape, residential and commercial – and doing it all so iconoclastically – MVRDV’s Valley is its own typology.

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