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Gagarin Valley
Image: MVRDV / Gagarin Valley

From the creators of the Marble Arch Mound: a ‘valley of Eden’ on the edge of Europe

MVRDV wants to build a colourful new town in Armenia’s Gagarin Valley

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham
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It’s a shame that Dutch architecture firm MVRDV, which has produced so many terrific buildings around the world, has become best known for creating London’s famously ugly and useless Marble Arch Mound (RIP). They make one mistake, eh?

But MVRDV does lots of cool and innovative things (this forest-topped art depot in Rotterdam, for instance), and the firm’s latest project sees it attempting to make an enormous valley in Armenia more modern, sustainable and ecologically diverse. The project centres on Gagarin Valley: a huge, 34,000-hectare area around 50 kilometres from capital Yerevan, and it’s been commissioned by Armenian non-profit the DAR Foundation for Regional Development and Competitiveness.

So, what do MVRDV’s plans entail? Well, for starters they include providing 12,000 new homes for Gagarin’s inhabitants. But the project will also involve implementing a system of canals and reservoirs by diverting the nearby Hrazdan river. 

And while that’s all very impressive, even more exciting are the project’s environmental credentials. The plans include loads of cycle lanes and walking paths, and MVRDV also wants to make use of Gagarin’s existing Soviet structures and traditional Armenian farmhouses – thereby reducing waste. 

The firm will also introduce 10,000 plant species to the region, creating a mosaic of colours throughout the fields. All of that will, according to MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas, give the valley ‘the appearance of a garden of Eden’.

At the moment, MVRDV’s designs are just that: designs. But they do look fabulous. Here are a couple more renders:

Gagarin Valley
Image: MVRDV / Gagarin Valley
Gagarin Valley
Image: MVRDV / Gagarin Valley

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