The MVRDV-designed Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen was named the Public Building of the Year at the award ceremony of Dutch architecture platform Architectenweb, hosted in Rotterdam on November 10th. MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas and MVRDV partner Fokke Moerel, who led the design team throughout the near-decade-long design and construction process, was in attendance at the ceremony and collected the award.
In giving the award to the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, the six-person jury praised the "radical choices and a strong focus on innovation" of the design. They describe it as "a great solution to a complex problem", as well as "a building that is not to be missed" with "a strong presence in the Museum park". The atrium is described as "dynamic", with "exciting" transparency, while they add that the roof terrace is "a successful public space".
The depot, which was officially opened last Friday by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, is the world's first publicly accessible art storage facility. It holds the entire collection of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, some 151,000 works of art and design, so that Visitors can – alone or in groups – take guided tours through the air-conditioned storage spaces, making the entire collection accessible at once. Unlike a museum building, where only a small percentage of the collection can be exhibited, the depot is an engine room that reveals the world behind the storage and maintenance of a dazzling number of art and design works. Visiting the depot offers a completely new experience: the art is arranged according to size and climate requirements, not art history periods. Old and contemporary works are juxtaposed, inviting new connections to be made.
The architectural solution for this unique programme is found in a round, sturdy, functional building that does not turn its back on its neighbours, instead establishing new relationships with its surroundings in Rotterdam's Museumpark and with the city of Rotterdam itself. The depot owes its shape to the desire to give the building a relatively small footprint. As a result, the building takes up less space in the park, but curves upwards with a 10-metre overhang to accommodate the entire programme. On its roof, the depot replaces the park space it occupies with an even larger public space: a rooftop forest of 75 birch trees, grasses, and 20 pines, with a restaurant in the rooftop pavilion at the centre.
The mirrored façade, consisting of 6,609m2 of glass divided into 1,664 panels, ensures that the building visually blends into its surroundings. Every day – depending on weather conditions – the depot looks different, like a living painting. Inside, the most eye-catching part of the building is the atrium, with its criss-crossing staircases and windows into the storage spaces that give the impression of a panopticon, with a view of the art from all sides. Thirteen large glass display cases, designed by artist Marieke Van Diemen, ensure that the visitor comes into contact with a collage of collection pieces as soon as they enter the building.
Read the jury's comments in full (in Dutch) at Architectenweb. You can also see more of the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen here.
Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is a collaboration between Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the municipality of Rotterdam and the De Verre Bergen Foundation. The depot was designed by MVRDV and built by BAM Bouw en Techniek.