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What if you could design your own land?

In 2012 MVRDV have been invited to participate, together with The Why Factory, in the 13th Venice Biennale, directed by David Chipperfield. The studios presented a collaborative project called "Freeland", exhibited in the Central Pavillion at the Giardini della Biennale.

The question posed in their exhibition was "what if you could start here and create your own world?". In their movie, titled "Freeland", MVRDV addressed it by showing a revolutionary model in urban planning. What if, they ask, you could step away from the government dictated urban development, what if you could forget about restrictive zoning and start planning your own townscape?

Back in 2008 MVRDV was commissioned to create an development strategy for the city of Almere, that would look to the next 20 to 40 years. Located in the Netherlands, Almere is a New Town "developed on reclaimed land since the 1970s, and it has grown – not coincidentally – into a prime example of the low-density, low-diversity suburban condition", as MVRDV writes. The prevision was to add 60,000 homes and 10,000 jobs by 2030, but MVRDV proposed to Almere municipality to correct this mono-functional quality of housing and zoning, preserving a freeland on the east side of the city. This revolutionary urban planning proposes remapping the regulation of buildings and development towards community initiative, "while reinventing the relationship between governments, people, and their urban fabric through the power of the collective via the internet".

As MVRDV writes in a note on the video, "Freeland" "invites organic urban growth, stimulating initiatives through inhabitants can create their own neighbourhoods including public space and infrastructure". Tired of the commodification of the cities, of the lack of diversity, people could regain their space and leave a real and visible trace in planning and designing the place they live in thanks to visionary "housemakers" and "landmakers", that help them to rethink the shape of housing, to free their imagination, while creating towns and communities ruled by ecologic ideals.

MVRDV movie explores the successes, the failures and the surprises of a new, radically liberated urbanism, where citizens are invited to team up in self-organized communities, wiping away the classical centralized planning in favor of do-it-yourself, anarchist development strategies driven by need, individual desires, and community goals, that completely change the way we have been approaching to public green, energy supply, water management, waste management, urban agriculture and infrastructure.

Conceived as a immersive, multi-screen surround projection, "Freeland" was originally accompanied by "AnarCity" by The Why Factory, which would address the same issues. The use of animation technologies and an upbeat narration, makes "Freeland" movie appealing to a wide public, while expressing subversive and innovative ideas, that help us reconsidering the contemporary approach and vision of the city. By turning our conception of the city as a whole, as a centrally-legitimate system that cannot be called into question - a static, monumental, inherited body, into an always changing and collectively built space, MVRDV explores a range of possibilities, none of which are strictly predictable.

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)


Authors: MVRDV (Winy Maas, Jacob van Eijs, Nathalie de Vries, Jeroen Zuidgeest, Jan Knikker, Chiara Quinzi, Ania Molenda. With Klass Hofman, Luca Moscelli) and "The Why Factory" (Felix Mandrazo, Giovanni Bellotti)
Mentioned project: "Freeland" (2012)
Animation: Jurjen Versteeg
Animation script editing: Jennifer Siegler

The Netherlands 2012
Duration: 5'01"