Page B2.2 . 07 December 2005                     
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    Rotterdam Veranda


    There's nothing dark, dingy, or threatening about this 215,000-square-foot (20,000-square-meter) parking garage, which also includes commercial space (shops and a bar/ cafe) at street level.

    The site for the garage is on Rotterdam's newly developed Veranda strip, which includes new housing, commercial buildings, a cinema, and the Feyenoord soccer stadium. The sensitivity to the scale in this part of Rotterdam is what prompted nearly half the garage to be submerged underground.

    Digging Underground

    The brownfield site was formerly occupied by a ship wharf, which limited the choice of structural system used to anchor the building. Dam walls were pile-driven into the excavated site until a clay layer was reached at 107 feet (32.5 meters) deep.

    This dam allows all the soil inside the footprint to remain dry because the walls act as a barrier against water seepage. The ground level of the garage was then poured on top of the unexcavated site, with the open courtyard void at the center. Steel beams were slipped into place under the slab, and then the soil underneath the cured concrete floor was excavated so the next level down could be built.

    The process was repeated until all four below-grade levels were in place. These concrete slabs provide lateral support for the dam walls at the periphery of the garage. In each of the rectangular building's four corners is a large column helping to support the concrete ramps and steel framing. All of these structural elements are painted white to visually lighten them.

    Perhaps the parking garage's most distinctive and inventive feature is its skin, which further contributes to the building's sex appeal. At street level, the designers wrapped the building in a sleek, curved glass wall, behind which is found the commercial spaces that serve the neighborhood and people using the garage.

    Upon this delicate glass base, the building rises in strips of metal and glass, alternating like ribbons of clouds and blue sky. What appears from a distance to be a solid metal skin is actually a perforated, gauzy wrap a sheer shroud that admits a filtered, nonglare dayight into the garage.

    The folded, perforated aluminum panels also encourage good ventilation. At night, when the lights come on inside the garage, the perforated metal sheets seem to disappear, and the garage visually drops its cloak to reveal its interior.

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    Michael J. Crosbie is editor-in-chief of Faith & Form, a senior associate with Steven Winter Associates, and a contributing editor to ArchitectureWeek.



    ArchWeek Image

    Veranda Parking Garage in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, designed by Architectenbureau Paul de Ruiter b.v.
    Photo: Rien van Rijthoven

    ArchWeek Image

    Construction began with dam walls being pile-driven to a clay layer 107 feet (32.5 meters) deep.
    Photo: Architectenbureau de Ruiter b.v.

    ArchWeek Image

    The center court was excavated one floor at a time.
    Photo: Architectenbureau de Ruiter b.v.

    ArchWeek Image

    Four of the nine stories of parking are below grade.
    Image: Architectenbureau de Ruiter b.v.

    ArchWeek Image

    Perforated metal makes the walls look translucent.
    Image: Architectenbureau de Ruiter b.v.

    ArchWeek Image

    Typical floor plan.
    Image: Architectenbureau de Ruiter b.v.

    ArchWeek Image

    Perforated, white painted metal looks silky by day, translucent by night.
    Photo: Rien van Rijthoven

    ArchWeek Image

    View from inside through the perforated metal screens.
    Photo: Rien van Rijthoven


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