MVRDV designs pavilion for 500-year anniversary of world’s oldest social housing complex

Source: MVRDV

Dutch architecture firm MVRDV will design a pavilion that will debut at the plaza in front of Augsburg town hall in honour of the 500th anniversary of the world’s oldest social housing complex, the Fuggerei.

Since 1521, the Fuggerei, established by German merchant Jakob Fugger, has provided a place for people to live with dignity, charging a constant, unchanging rent of just one guilder a year – or 0.88 EUR in modern currency.

The pavilion itself is a long, narrow gabled building, its form inspired by the long terraced houses of the Fuggerei itself. However, rather than a single straight shape, one end of the pavilion is curved, pointing towards the Fuggerei from its location on the town square, and raised to form an 8.5 m cantilever that provides a lookout point to view the town hall itself. This raised end incorporates a sloped tribune, allowing the pavilion to host lectures, presentations, and other events during the interdisciplinary debate of the 500-year Fuggerei anniversary. The pavilion will be made of cross-laminated timber (CLT), with its large cantilever thus demonstrating the structural potential of a relatively new technology based on a sustainable material.

“In our current times of housing shortage, climate crisis, social inequality and isolation, the sustainability-oriented and people-centred concept of the Fuggerei provides a global role model, and offers a response to the great social and ecological questions of our time,” MVRDV said.

Besides the pavilion, MVRDV will also present a “Fuggerei Code” for the future of social housing.

“From the very beginning, the Fuggerei has set standards that have the power to positively change society and provide an innovative answer to urgent social challenges,” explained Alexander Graf Fugger-Babenhausen, a member of the Fugger Family Senior Council. “The Fugger idea is for everyone, it knows no boundaries. We invite the world to be part of this anniversary.”

The anniversary began in 23 August 2021. More information can be found here.