MVRDV Wins DAM Preis 2021

John Hill
29. January 2021
Photo: Ossip von Duivenbode

The Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) has announced that the DAM Preis for Architecture in Germany 2021 has been awarded to MVRDV and N-V-O Nuyken von Oefele Architekten for WERK12, a five-story mixed-use building near Munich's Ost station.

Photos of the building, showing story-high onomatopoeias drawn from comic books — WOW, HMPF, PUH, AAHHH, OH — positioned on perimeter walkways, immediately bring to mind the pavilion MVRDV designed for Expo 2000 in Hannover. This is no coincidence, DAM explains in today's announcement of the 2021 DAM Prize, as that earlier building led the client, OTEC GmbH & Co. KG, to commission the Rotterdam firm to design WERK12. The new building contains offices, a fitness center, and restaurants, and it anchors the larger transformation of the former Pfanni production facilities in the the Werksviertel district.

Photo: Ossip von Duivenbode

MVRDV's Expo 2000 building, which still stands and the firm is transforming into co-working spaces, is basically a stacking of programmatically unrelated floor plates connected by exterior staircases. A similar approach is found in WERK12's five double-height floors and external stairs wrapping the deep (3.25m) terraces. The large illuminated letters animate the facade in its post-industrial context, while inside, the fitness center, taking up three of the building's five floors, and other uses take advantage of the high ceilings (5.5m) that were born from demands for flexibility. MVRDV, working with associate architect N-V-O, asserts that users can insert mezzanines into the spaces in the future, if so desired. 

Photo: Ossip von Duivenbode

The DAM Prize for Architecture in Germany started with the nomination of 100 remarkable buildings completed between the end of 2018 and spring 2020. From those buildings, a longlist of 22 projects was determined and then winnowed down by the jury to a shortlist of four projects. A bilingual book, already published by DOM Publishers, highlights the shortlisted projects. WERK12 was selected unanimously by the members of the jury* as the winner. A few quotes from the jurors:

"MVRDV have designed the different levels not as flat planes but as three-dimensional volumes with staggered heights. The spaces flow into one another and form a playful arrangement. A successful experiment for a flexible building with spatial diversity." – Nicole Kerstin Berganski

"If architecture is to speak, it cannot be left sim ply murmuring in the background. WERK12 positively bellows — but it has something important to say: a building can be flexible, universal, robust, open, refined, and at the same time cheerful." – Anne Femmer

"WERK12 and its forecourt form a nucleus for the Werksviertel district. The future-oriented building enables flexible uses — for work, pleasure, and recreation. The bright interior spaces, with a height of over five meters, allow for additional intermediate floors, thanks to the placement of the circulation structure on the exterior." – Andrea Jürges


Photo: Ossip von Duivenbode
DAM Preis 2021 Finalists:

Photo: Ossip von Duivenbode
*DAM Preis 2021 Jury:

  • Nicole Kerstin Berganski, partner at NKBAK
  • Anne Femmer, architect, partner at SUMMACUMFEMMER
  • Nicole Heptner , Architecture Media Management at JUNG
  • Andrea Jürges, Deputy Director of DAM
  • Peter Kulka, Peter Kulka Architecture
  • Hans-Dieter Nägelke, Head TU Berlin Architecture Museum
  • Amber Sayah, freelance journalist
  • Peter Cachola Schmal, Director of DAM
  • Alexander Schwarz, partner at David Chipperfield Architects

Photo: Ossip von Duivenbode

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