MVRDV’s NEXT500 Pavilion, which formed the heart of the 500th anniversary celebrations of the world’s oldest social housing complex the Fuggerei, will now move to Groningen after attracting 30,000 visitors over a 5-week span. In the coming two weeks, the cross-laminated timber panels of the pavilion will be dismantled and shipped to the north of the Netherlands, where the pavilion will be rebuilt as an event space for the Fraeylemaborg Foundation Art and English landscape park.
Located outside Augsburg’s town hall from May 6 to June 12, the NEXT500 Pavilion hosted over 100 events, including workshops, concerts, readings, guided tours, and panel discussions. These events not only celebrated the Fuggerei’s anniversary, but also highlighted the relevance of this housing complex in our current times. Though German merchant Jakob Fugger founded the Fuggerei half a millennium ago, in these times of housing shortage, climate crisis, social inequality, and isolation, the sustainability-oriented and people-centred concept of the Fuggerei still offers a model response to modern issues.
Inside the pavilion, visitors were invited to learn about the “Fuggerei of the Future” with an exhibition presenting a research project conducted by MVRDV alongside the Fuggerei. This research studied the existing Fuggerei housing complex and distilled its successful formula into eight simple building blocks. These building blocks provide the basis for a system for new Fuggerei that can be adapted to differing contexts worldwide, including three case studies developed by MVRDV for new Fuggerei complexes in Augsburg, Lithuania, and Sierra Leone.
In its five-week run, the NEXT500 pavilion hosted visits from various prominent guests, including EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Minister of State Claudia Roth, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder and State Secretary Cansel Kziltepe, as well as thought leaders, foundation personalities and celebrities. The Fuggerei states that “the positive feedback and responses on the exhibition were impressive. Visitors have been moved by the Fuggerei and its ideas for the future. The Fuggerei is way more than a historical idyll with vine-covered houses.”
The Fraeylemaborg Foundation Art and Sculpture Park is a 23-hectare open-air museum and castle in the village of Slochteren, Groningen. With cultural artefacts and architectural sculptures laid out in the form of an English garden landscape – highlighted by a series of “New Follies” – the museum is visited by 100,000 people every year. In its new home at Fraeylemaborg, the Next500 pavilion will continue to provide a space for exciting cultural and social content through exhibitions and events. This concept, and the sustainable re-use of the pavilion, convinced the Fuggerei foundations to send the pavilion abroad. The Fraeylemaborg Foundation has indicated that in 5 years, the pavilion may return to Augsburg, leaving enough time to develop ideas on how the building can continue to inspire and bring people together in Augsburg. The first exhibition in the pavilion in Slochteren, planned to open in summer 2023, will tell the story of the Fuggerei with the goal of inspiring architects and developers working on reconstruction projects resulting from earthquakes caused by gas extraction in Groningen.
“Designing the NEXT500 Pavilion was a thrilling exercise for us, not only to celebrate the Fuggerei’s 500th anniversary, but also because it provided the opportunity for us to take part in the Fuggerei of the Future research, with proposals to bring the Fuggerei formula to communities around the world”, says MVRDV founding partner Jacob van Rijs. “The fact that the pavilion will now find a home in my home country of the Netherlands is emblematic of the success of this endeavour. I am confident that the Fuggerei’s message will travel just as easily as the pavilion to this country, placing a spotlight on affordable social housing and creating a long-term impact.”
“On the one hand, the Fuggerei Pavilion has shown to the public that the Fuggerei enables people to live a self-determined life in dignity for half a millennium. On the other hand, we opened a big window into the future and have proven that the Fuggerei is also a place of ideas and dialogue”, emphasises Alexander Erbgraf Fugger-Babenhausen, Chairman of the Fugger Family Senate. “This spirit of openness and exchange will guide us into the future. We are delighted that the pavilion has found a new home in the Netherlands. The idea of the Fuggerei is radiating beyond the country's borders. By doing so, we are fulfilling what Jakob Fugger wrote for us in the stone tablets above the gates of the Fuggerei: the Fuggerei was endowed in exemplum. It is intended to be a role model and inspire people to work for the common good and to create liveable places that give people a social home.”
About the Fuggerei
The Fuggerei settlement in Augsburg was donated in 1521 by Jakob Fugger for "eternity" for needy fellow citizens. Around 150 people currently live in the 67 terraced houses with 140 apartments – for three prayers a day and 88 cents a year cold rent. To this day, many needy people find safe housing there and receive support for a successful, self-determined life in dignity. As the oldest social settlement in the world, the Fuggerei has been fulfilling its foundation purpose of offering a home to many people in need since 1521. According to the deed of foundation, the Fuggerei should exist forever and, if possible, also be expanded. Jakob Fugger's successors have lived up to this responsibility and have maintained and even expanded the Fuggerei despite major crises over the past half-millennium. More information: www.fugger.de / www.fuggerei-next500.de