MVRDV completes world's first publicly accessible art depot in Rotterdam

The Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is a bowl-shaped archive building that will display 151,000 artworks for public viewing, topped by an award-winning rooftop forest.

by STIRworld Published on : Sep 28, 2020

The cultural heart of Rotterdam, Museumpark, welcomes a new structure into its art-and-sculpture-filled gardens - the public archive building Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, which has been designed by MVRDV. The Netherlands-based practice recently completed constructing the museum, one that will allow visitors to view a collection of 151,000 artworks and also behind the scenes activities of the centre.

The depot will allow visitors to view a collection of 151,000 artworks | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen designed by MVRDV| STIRworld
The depot will allow visitors to view a collection of 151,000 artworks Image: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of MVRDV

Sjarel Ex and Ina Klaassen, directors at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, explain, “This is a working building in which the most important consideration is what the building can do: to look after our collection while still being open to the public. Next year the entire collection of Boijmans Van Beuningen will once again be visible on one spot for the first time since 1935. We are convinced that making the collection accessible shows how much we care and how well we take care of it. This is something that the inhabitants of Rotterdam will be proud of; something that they want to see with their own eyes, because they partly own this enormous artistic treasure”.  

The reception and lobby area inside the public archive building | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen designed by MVRDV| STIRworld
The reception and lobby area inside the public archive building Image: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of MVRDV

The museum takes a bowl-like form that leaves existing views into and routes through the Museumpark uninterrupted. The 39.5-metre tall structure has a relatively small built footprint and also decreases the impact on underground water buffers. The depot will offer a unique experience to visitors with a sturdy engine room displaying artworks, a restaurant, and an award-winning rooftop forest that shares striking views of the city with the visitors.

  • The restaurant opens out into a rooftop forest | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen designed by MVRDV| STIRworld
    The restaurant opens out into a rooftop forest Image: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of MVRDV
  • The airy interiors of the restaurant remain connected with the outdoors | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen designed by MVRDV| STIRworld
    The airy interiors of the restaurant remain connected with the outdoors Image: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of MVRDV

A mirrored facade, consisting of 6,609 square metres of glass subdivided into 1,664 panels, wraps around the curved building and reflects its dynamic surroundings - people passing by, leafy park areas, the clouds, and Rotterdam’s skyline. The facade single-handedly integrates and establishes the large building into its setting while activating the neighbouring parks and buildings.

The mirrored facade reflects the building’s dynamic surroundings | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen designed by MVRDV| STIRworld
The mirrored facade reflects the building’s dynamic surroundings Image: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of MVRDV

The forest rooftop, designed together with MTD landschapsarchitecten from Den Bosch, is planted with 75 birch trees that are highly resistant to the weather conditions on the roof. A special watering system ensures that the soil in which they are being planted will never dry out.

  • Seventy-five birch trees were planted on the 35-metre high rooftop | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen designed by MVRDV| STIRworld
    Seventy-five birch trees were planted on the 35-metre high rooftop Image: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of MVRDV
  • The reflective facade panels being installed on the building | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen designed by MVRDV| STIRworld
    The reflective facade panels being installed on the building Image: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of MVRDV

With the aim of leaving the park as intact as possible, MVRDV gave the circular depot as small a footprint as the programme could allow. The building is divided into five zones, each with its own individual climate environment, to preserve private and corporate collections in the building under museum conditions.

In spite of the small footprint, the museum spaces are commodious | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen designed by MVRDV| STIRworld
In spite of the small footprint, the museum spaces are commodious Image: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of MVRDV

“With this construction completion, now the museum and the users can start to inhabit the building and fill its spaces with priceless art. Although it will take another year before the real opening, the completion is a special moment for all. The depot design is daring, and its success comes from the direct dialogue with all parties involved,” shares Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV.

  • The building is divided into five zones, each with its own individual climate environment | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen designed by MVRDV| STIRworld
    The building is divided into five zones, each with its own individual climate environment Image: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of MVRDV
  • The construction completion paves the way for interior furnishings and moving the artwork into the building | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen designed by MVRDV | STIRworld
    The construction completion paves the way for interior furnishings and moving the artwork into the building Image: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of MVRDV

Designed for the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the project is expected to open its doors in September 2021. The construction completion paves the way for interior furnishings and the long process of moving the museum’s complete collection into their new storage facility.

(Text by Ankitha Gattupalli, intern at stirworld.com)

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