MVRDV’s pavilion for the Fuggerei’s 500th anniversary


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. Source and photos Courtesy of MVRDV.