Max goes MVRDV

Six months internship in Rotterdam
Maximilian Graber at work

Maximilian Graber, a 22-year-old architecture student from Upper Bavaria. He was awarded one of the coveted internships in the “Baumeister Academy”. The place for his internship: MVRDV in Rotterdam. For BAU MAG, Maximilian reports on his time at this famous architectural bureau, where he worked from March to August.

Fresh from an internship at Renzo Piano in Paris, I moved straight on to my next adventure: six months working at MVRDV, courtesy of the Baumeister Academy. As soon as I arrived in Rotterdam, I knew this city experience was going to be different. This was a place I wanted to stay longer. From the start I liked Rotterdam. It dares to experiment, it seems to be free from architectural restrictions, it is a blend of people and cultures, a fertile ground for innovation and provides space for art and urbanism. I can hardly wait for the work to start.

A typical day at MVRDV starts between 9:00 and 9:30
I start up my computer to begin the day. As quickly as I can I open Rhino, to grab one of the coveted licenses. Not so easy with 170 keen colleagues, twelve of whom by the way are interns. The time until lunch flies by. From 12:00 onwards the first hungry architects gather for lunch at a long line of tables and benches where once a day the whole MVRDV family comes together. We talk about architecture, the latest exhibitions, the last party, the variable weather or the fortunes of Feyenoord Rotterdam.
In typical Dutch style, there is salad, bread, cheese and tasty side dishes on the menu. After lunch it´s back to work, with a short break in the afternoon for coffee and biscuits with colleagues I meet in the kitchen. We sketch, model and design. Decisions are made as a team. We experiment and produce. Not infrequently the results of the week´s work fill a 100-page booklet. Like a picture book, this tells the story of our projects and serves as a basis for discussion in the meetings. We try to include the ideas of the MVRDV directors Nathalie, Winy and Jacob in the design and to further develop them. Up until the end of the day we modify the material and send an update to all those involved, so that they can start the next day with fresh input. Once the work is done, I set off home. When there is urgent work to finish, or when we´re preparing a competition entry, then it can be later. But as an architecture student working late is nothing new to me.

6 months at MVRDV
What´s very exciting for me is the amazing variety of projects. The spectrum of design projects ranges from entire urban districts and building complexes to libraries and exhibition space, as well as shops and single-family houses. For the employees, but above all for the interns, the combination of urban planning and architecture on a smaller scale offers tremendous learning potential. It´s all about practical application and realization, just as much as development theories, research and future scenarios over a period of one or even several generations. We interns are used flexibly, and have the chance to work on different projects and delve into new material. In this way I get to know not only different designs, but also my colleagues and the methods they use in their work.

I am now right in the middle of my time at MVRDV, fully engaged in the work, and before I know it, it will be time to go. Then I will be off somewhere else. The Italian Swiss Alps are calling me – in particular Mendrisio. At the Accademia di Architettura I will continue my studies for a further year, with Olgiati, Botta und Co., applying the knowledge I have gained and hopefully achieving new things.

»The spectrum of design projects ranges from entire urban districts and building complexes to libraries and exhibition space, as well as shops and single-family houses.«

Projects worked on
1) Vienna, “hour-glass” tower
2) Mannheim, Franklin Mitte
3) Hannover, Expo pavilion
4) Mannheim, “Traumhaus”
5) Various competitions

Baumeister Academy
Designing – winning – learning from the best. Each year the Baumeister Academy, organized by the German architecture magazine Baumeister, along with sponsors Graphisoft, BAU 2019 and Schöck Bauteile GmbH, offers outstanding architecture students the chance of a six-month internship at internationally renowned architectural practices. Each winner also receives a grant of €2,500.

All the information on the Academy: