SOUTHEAST ASIA BUILDING05 Mar 2021
UNStudio and Bauwerk introduce the Van B residences in Munich – a completely new ‘analogue smart’ urban living concept
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands – The new Van B residential project, located on Infanteriestrasse next to the future ‘Kreativquartier’ (creative quarter) in Munich, offers a completely new form of housing that reimagines the future of urban living.

As a prototype for modern city dwelling, Van B is designed to cater to changing demographics and multiple family constellations. With its highly flexible apartments, outdoor and shared communal spaces and striking facade, Van B offers a new form of urban living.

Ben van Berkel: “What makes Van B truly special and unique is that it offers a completely new form of ‘smart’ living. This is not smart in the usual sense of tech integration; it instead involves reinterpreting ideas from the digital world in order to improve the analogue, physical spaces we inhabit.”

The architectural strategy was to devise as many different ways as possible to reconfigure an apartment. To achieve this, we designed an adaptable partition and furniture ‘plugin-based’ system that allows homeowners to use the space in a 40m2 apartment almost as if it were a 60 square metres loft. The Van B plugin system allows you to easily change the use of the same floor space in a matter of seconds, making it possible to transform a room from a generous office into a cozy living room, or a bedroom. Van B challenges old conventions of square footage and fixed footprints to empower people to live in more flexible ways. Quality meters become more important than square metres.

The flexibility lies in the fact that each element can work in different configurations and that the resident can chose an individual configuration of plugins based on a catalogue of nine elements. In order to achieve this, a grid  was devised upon which each element is based, as whenever one element is opened, the back of the other one needs to be adjacent to it. This means that no matter which elements the homeowner chooses, and no matter how they arrange them inside their apartment, the modules will work together. With the possibility to reconfigure the apartment to their immediate needs, the homeowner can choreograph their space around their day, instead of the other way around.

Van B offers a variety of apartment types and sizes including one to three room apartments, flats, gallery lofts and rooftop flats, each catering to different demographics and resident constellations.

Essential in the design of Van B is the relationship of the inside to the outside and the creation of a community within the development. Creating connections between people and to the outdoors, and using outdoor space as an extension of the living spaces was essential to the design.