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The design in 9 steps

Architects Fokke Moerel and Arjen Ketting of MVRDV are leading the construction of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen. They explain the design in nine steps.

1. 'Eureka moment'

Our architects MVRDV have been working on the design for the depot since 2013. At one point we sat with a group of architects around a table-top model of the Museumpark and the surrounding buildings. We wanted to leave the park as intact as possible and design a building that would have minimal impact on the green environment. We had a round shape in mind – a building where you can walk around the outside. On the table there was a red bowl full of sugar cubes, and we said to one another, ‘that has to be the shape of the building.’ By using mirrors to make the façade reflective you amplify the green setting.

2. Ground surface

The bowl shape minimizes the depot’s ground surface, while maximizing the roof area. The building’s diameter is forty metres at ground level and sixty metres at the top. One of the positive outcomes is that the area of the roof terrace, with its view over the city, is maximized.

5. Connection to the Ground

Figure 1
Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 2

We made two full-scale models to investigate how the façade will connect to the ground. In figure 1 we see that the façade on the left goes into the ground, as it were, while it goes round on the right. We felt it was important that the façade does not seem to have been chopped off and that it stands on the ground as though the building had ‘landed’ on the site. In figure 2 we see a clear shadow by the right-hand façade which creates the illusion that the building is free floating.

'The design of the façade gives the illusion that the building has 'landed'.'

- Fokke Moerel

6. Roof Garden

The building’s green surroundings inform the design of the roof garden, with a grand café, which will be created on the top of the building. A total of seventy-five trees will be brought in, and they will already be six or seven metres high when they are planted. We will be planting downy birch (Betula pubescens), which occurs as a single trunk variety and a variety with a shrubby habit. We selected the option with the bushy habit because it creates a fuller backdrop. If you look directly downwards from above the depot, the planting on the roof terrace blends seamlessly with the green environment of the park.

7. Craquelure

The design for the landscape at ground level creates the effect that the depot has ‘landed’ on the site and as a result a type of craquelure has been created around the edges. We did an experiment in which we put a pot down on a mirror with some force. The mirror broke and glass shards formed all over the mirror from the centre to the edges. This formed the basis for our design. The footpaths on the roof are angular, not straight; this is in step with the landscape at ground level. There are green sections with trees and grass between these footpaths.

'Museumpark is accessible to the general public; visits to the depot's roof garden using the express lift will be free as well.'

- Arjen Ketting

8. Six floors

Inside the building there will be two types of flows in the same space – the flow of art and the flow of people. The central space will be kept empty; it is an atrium with thirteen floating display cases containing works of art from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen collection. There will be several lifts: an express lift, a public lift, an art lift and a staff lift. There will also be stairs that cross the Atrium and link the various public spaces. Each atrium staircase will have a landing exactly in the centre of the building, giving visitors the opportunity to look outside from the heart of the depot. There will be depots on floors one to five. The entrance foyer will be on the ground floor. The floor of the Atrium will be on the first floor, the education centre on the second, the galleries on the third and fourth, and the Stichting De Verre Bergen suite on the fi fth. The sixth floor, fully accessible to the public, has the restaurant, gallery and roof garden with the bushy habit beeches.

9. Sustainability

The depot building has been designed such that it will be exceptionally sustainable. As many of the materials used in its construction as possible – recycled aggregate in the concrete among them – will come from sustainable sources. Innovative materials and techniques will make the building’s energy consumption extremely efficient. The building will have underground thermal storage, a new system for climate control and rainwater storage that will supply water for the roof garden and for flushing the toilets. The depot will also have LED lighting and waterless urinals. Seventy-five trees, grasses and sedum will be planted on the roof. The building will also be state-of-the art in its use of solar energy; solar panels on the depot roof will supply the building’s electricity.

Depot Journal

This article has been published before in Depot Journal #1 which is part of a series of six. If you would like to receive all the printed Depot journals by post, please send an email to info@boijmans.nl with your full name and address, reference ‘receive Depot Journals’.